Local Election results 2018: Tories snatch back control of Barnet Council amid antisemitism row
PUBLISHED: 09:12 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 19:03 04 May 2018
The Conservatives have taken back control of Labour target Barnet Council in what many say is a protest vote against the antisemitism controversy surrounding Jeremy Corbyn.
Commentators predicted Labour would turn the borough red as the Tories had already lost their majority in March following the resignation of a Tory councillor.
But Barnet’s Labour leader Barry Rawlings blamed the antisemitism row for losing his party votes in the ward.
He told the Ham&High: “If the NEC had done something about it two years ago, people would be waking up to a Labour council in Barnet. It’s not the Jewish vote we lost but the friends, neighbours and everyone who knows a Jewsh person and who grew to see antisemitism as a virus starting in the Labour Party.”
During a long night at the Barnet count in Allianz Park the breakthrough came when the Tories made a clean sweep in the Hale ward, taking a seat from Labour in the process and increasing their vote by almost 2,800.
A key moment came when the Conservatives took all three seats in West Hendon, traditionally a Labour stronghold.
Tory council leader Richard Cornelius, however, said voters were generally more concerned about “local issues” rather than accusations of antisemitism within Labour: “It’s things like potholes, the collection of their rubbish bins and keeping the council tax low.”
But Hampstead Garden Suburb councillor Gabriel Rozenberg (Con) told the Ham&High: “There is no doubt that across Barnet the entirely legitimate concerns that the Labour Party has not been doing enough to tackle antisemitism played heavily on a lot of voters’ minds and rightly so. I don’t believe Labour has taken decisive steps to deal with antisemitism and I think a lot of voters say to themselves that the Labour Party is being led by fringe groups rather than people who come from the mainstream.”
Voter turnout was 43.7 per cent – an increase of 2.6pc from 2014.
In Hampstead Garden Suburb, where the turnout was 48.1pc, the Conservative councillors Rohit Grover, John Marshall and Cllr Rozenberg held onto all three seats and the Tories took all three seats in Golders Green.
In East Finchley Labour held onto all three seats, with Arjun Mitra getting 3,100, Alison Moore 3,094, and Claire Farrier 3,151 votes.
See our live blog from the night as it happened.
Final result in Barnet:
Conservatives 38 seats
Labour 25 seats