Saturday, 24 March 2012

Why every Jewish voter in Barnet must vote for Andrew Dismore

The Jewish community in Barnet is sleepwalking towards a disaster. Sadly, it seems to me that through cowardice on the left and misguided loyalty on the right, they are failing the community on a grand scale. What am I talking about? The forthcoming GLA elections. The two credible candidates are Brian Coleman for the Conservative Party and Andrew Dismore for the Labour party. Both of these politicians have a long history of excellent relations with the mainstream Jewish community. In a normal election, party preferences would mean that a Jewish voter would cast their vote purely on the party preference as they would be comfortable that both men would support the community.

This however is not a normal election. It is for the role of GLA rep for Barnet and Camden. Most Barnet voters have no clue of the role of the GLA. It was created to "oversee" the Mayor. This is where the issue becomes relevant to the Jewish community. Who is going to be the next Mayor of London? The vast majority of Jewish people in London hope that it is Boris Johnson. They do not trust Ken Livingstone and many perceive him as anti Israeli and anti semitic. I've spoken privately to many local Jewish Labour activists who are horrified at the way Ken Livingstone has seemingly gone out of his way to insult the community. Sadly, any who have spoken out have been given a ritual stoning by the wider Labour movement. In normal circumstances, this would alienate the community from the whole Labour movement (with ample justification).

The issue is that sometimes, you have to consider the wider picture. The budget has been a disaster for the Tories. George Osborne's attack on pensioners could well be the magic bullet for the Labour party that brings down Boris. The Jewish community has to face up to the very real prospect of a Ken Livingstone mayoralty. This is where the identity of the GLA rep becomes important. If Barnet swings behind Brian Coleman, it will clearly be down to the Jewish community. Coleman is highly disliked and distrusted by virtually everyone else. How will Livingstone react? Lets just be charitable and say that looking after a section of the community which hates his guts will not be top of his agenda. He cant stand Coleman, his Union backers can't stand Coleman and it will give him every reason to stick the boot in where it hurts. The more Coleman will bleat, the more Ken will enjoy it.

But what about if Andrew Dismore is the GLA rep? He will have a slender majority and Livingstone will be obliged to listen to his colleague and not antagonise his supporters. Labour want to win back the marginal seats of Hendon and Finchley. They believe that the Lib Dem vote will collapse at the general election and that they have a fantastic chance. Livingstone is a party man and he have no choice but to give Andrew Dismore every chance of helping this revival. However you look at it, with Livingstone as Mayor, there is no way at all that the Barnet Jewish community will get anything from the London authorities unless Dismore is elected. Livingstone hates free schools and academies. With Coleman as rep, these will be under massive threat. There are huge areas of policy the Mayor controls and an impotent Coleman would just look on, no doubt screaming in high pitched anger, as measure after measure is passed attacking his closest supporters.

So what, I hear you ask, would happen if Boris gets in and Dismore is elected? Well first, Boris is never going to attack the Jewish community. The Tory strategists would put the loss down to Colemans own problems caused by parking. They would say that Colemans anti motorist policies caused his downfall. They would actually take note. This would be good for all small businesses and shop owners in Barnet. Dismore has shown himself to be an effective operator for all sections of the community. Rumour has it that Boris would be none to upset to see the back of Colemans buffoonary and excess. Coleman is a ticking time bomb. A Dismore victory would diffuse it and the reasons would be clear. Boris would be viewed as blameless for Colemans downfall. If Coleman loses and Boris wins, it would clearly be attributable to the parking policies, which Boris has no truck with.

It is high time that the leaders of the community pulled their heads out of the sand. If anyone believes Ken would do anything other than punish Barnet and make Coleman look impotent, they are deluded. Even if you think Boris has it sown up, just remember that Osbornes granny tax has even been denounced by the Tory supporting Daily Mail. Whilst the Jewish community in Barnet is large, in London as a whole it isn't, which is why Ken Livingstone is quite happy to upset it. The only protection will be an Andrew Dismore victory.

If Coleman gets elected alongside Ken Livingstone as mayor, I think it's inevitable that a chill wind will blow through Barnet for the Jewish community. Being a community leader means sometimes telling people things they don't want to hear. It is time for the local community leaders in Barnet to spell out to those they lead, exactly what the likely out comes of this election will bring.


Morris Hickey said...

Whilst I can well understand your dislike of Coleman (some of which I share in relation both to him and to Roger Evans, the Havering & Redbridge member) I have to say that the tone of this logically argued post begins to carry some marks of desperation.

Rog T said...


I think you've misjudged the tone slightly. I'm not a Labour member, and I don't believe Dismore is the cure to all evils.

It is a fact that Coleman is courting certain sectors of the community. I just wanted to make sure that this could all go wrong if Ken Livingstone wins, which I believe is not beyond the realms of impossibility.

Labour won't say because they are embarrassed. The Tories won't say because Coleman is an embarrassment. That leaves it to the bloggers in Barnet, yet again, to tell the truth

Morris Hickey said...

My comment may have been somewhat inadequate, Rog. I understand your motive, and sympathise with it. If only my personal circumstances allowed me the time to manage a similar blog here in Redbridge! Heaven only knows that we need one.

However, I do use the council's own website forum section (Redbridge i) as well as a limited membership blog called Redbridge Eye. Evans no longer posts on his blog comments submitted by me (even reasonable ones) - so much for the democratic right of free speech.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


It is interesting that you acknowledge that your own party’s candidate is not credible! I agree with Morris that your post sounds desperate, but what is even more desperate is that the voters of London are faced with the same three candidates as last time. Is this really the best that London can come up with? We are supposed to be one of the major capitals of the world, but the political parties treat us like Muppets.

I think you are wrong to claim that the Jewish community has to “face up to the very real prospect of a Ken Livingstone mayoralty” There is not a cat in hell’s chance of Livingstone winning. A few weeks ago he was neck and neck with Boris in the polls, but then he did what he always did. He opened his mouth. But it is not just his hypocrisy over his tax status and his anti Jewish/Israel ranting that will cost him votes, it is the simple reality that he is stark raving bonkers. Boris might be a buffoon, but he is an amiable buffoon. I don’t believe that it is just Jewish voters who are alarmed at the things Livingstone has been saying recently.

I am not so sure that the Conservatives will lose votes due to the budget. Labour and LieDem supporters clearly won’t vote for him - but they never would have anyway. But Labour voters who don’t trust Ken won’t suddenly switch to Boris. They will either abstain or perhaps vote LieDem. The question is, will Tory voters (in particular pensioners) still vote for Boris? I think they will because they know that Livingstone in charge means the GLA precept starts going back up again. Ken just can’t help himself but waste taxpayers money on his crackpot schemes.

As for the Coleman / Dismore battle, both candidates, as you point out, have a track record of supporting the Jewish community but, frankly, neither of them have covered themselves in glory over the years. Just as London deserves better than the candidates on offer, so it is the case in Barnet. Why do the political parties keep foisting upon us career politicians with their snouts in the trough. Who will win? My view is that Coleman will hold on to his seat because I think many Conservative supporters who are voting for Boris, will then vote Conservative across the board for the GLA as well. I cannot see Dismore winning with Livingstone as the candidate for Mayor. But, frankly, whoever wins in Barnet will be a disaster. People would be better off abstaining from the GLA vote in order to signify our disgust at the contempt in which the parties hold us.

baarnett said...

"We are supposed to be one of the major capitals of the world, but the political parties treat us like Goldman Sachs."

I agree with DCMD that it asking a lot for natural Conservatives to vote for Boris, and then NOT to go on to vote for the Conservative GLA candidates, both the geographical one (Brian), and the party list.

Or at least, the numbers who do that may not be enough to matter.

It is expecting there to be votes for Boris and for the 'London Conservative List', but for Labour's Andrew Dismore as well - if the full tactical position is taken.

Still, politics is full of surprises - many London boroughs went Labour two years ago, for instance.

So the slogan has to be "Whether You Vote for Boris or Ken, Vote Tactically in Barnet and Camden, to Kick Out Brian Coleman."

(OK, that slogan can be worked on a bit.)

Morris Hickey said...

How about:

"Clean the air - sack your Coleman" (for those of us old enough to remember deliveries by the coalman!).

Rog T said...

I wouldn't be so sure about Livingstones prospects if I were you. I've recently been speaking to quite a few people who voted Boris last time and are definately voting for Ken this time, for a range of reasons. I suspect that outside of Barnet the arguments are rather different.

As to "my party", I don't currently belong to one.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Apologies Rog, I thought you were still a LibDem. Glad to see that common sense has prevailed!

Don't Call Me Dave said...

If Labour had chosen Oona King as their candidate for Mayor, I think she would have galvanised the Labour vote and Coleman would be toast!

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

I'm not sure, Roger, what you expect Livingstone to be able to do to the Jewish community that would be so bad - "a chill wind"?! I don't think he can do that much that would be so bad for the Jewish community! Goodness me, I hope not. In any case, Livingstone might be bad, but he's not that bad!

I can imagine him inviting more speakers to City Hall that would offend lots of Jews (and other people), eg, more Qaradawis, but what can he actually do? What would he want to do?

I don't think he is consciously anti-semitic, he has - I'm afraid - fairly standard-issue leftist views on Israel, cranked up by his background around the WRP.

I don't like many of his views - and I'm not even Jewish. I know that a lot of usually Labour-voting Jews will not vote for him this time. But there will be many that stick with voting Labour.

I think that some Tory voters will be able to go to the polls, vote Boris and not vote for Coleman. It will be interesting to see the gap - we will probably be able to work it out in Barnet.

I really hope that Coleman doesn't get in, not just because I'm Labour but because Coleman is so very awful.

I'll vote for Ken Livingstone, not because of the man, rather in spite of the man. But because he is the Labour candidate; I still see the party as having links to the trade unions, and wish that the unions would assert themselves more in the party that they fund.

Livingstone is no friend of the unions, in case people hadn't noticed!

Thankfully, elections aren't yet just a matter of voting for this or that individual person: we would really be in deep s*** if they were. There are still some basic political - class - choices to be made!

I know this cuts against my wish to see Coleman - the Conservative candidate - voted out, but it also underpins my hope to see Livingstone - the Labour candidate - voted in.

Rog T said...


In the mayoral elections you do vote for the man. The Mayor has a huge swathe of powers and one difference between Ken and Boris is that Ken does detail. I don't think Ken would deliberately sit down and say "what evil things can I do", but when big decisions are made, he will feel far more inclined to ignore the concerns of communities which he perceives as having no vested interest for him or Labour.