Monday 7 May 2018

Barnet Council Elections Analysis part 2 - A deeper look at Racism and Anti Semitism at the polling booths

What happened on Thursday night in Barnet was actually quite extraordinary. Barnet Labour suffered the biggest collapse since Devon lock in the Grand National. The bookies and the pundits didn't see it coming (well we did, but clearly no one listened). I would say that for anyone who knows the Borough, the reasons for what happened are quite clear. The pattern was repeated nationally in areas with large Jewish communities.  What happened was nothing to do with the Barnet local Conservatives/Labour parties and everything to do with the National Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.  There have been countless opportunities to deal with anti semites in the party. The meeting with British Board of Deputies was an opportunity to turn a new page, but sadly that was wasted.

Many people do not think Jeremy Corbyn is someone they trust as a leader and they used the opportunity to send a message to the Labour party. Elections can be brutal, democracy is not perfect, but ultimately people vote on the issue that most affects them. Whilst that determined the overall pattern of the election, there are some disturbing trends that a deeper dig into the numbers reveals.

Racist/Anti Semitic voting patterns

A clear example is Brunswick Park, a split ward. I am quite disturbed by what we saw here. Not that Kathy Levine won for Labour, she is a decent councillor and deserved it. What upsets me is that Mukesh Depala, the Tory at the top of the list alphabetically polled so poorly. Mukesh got far less votes than the other two Tories. Mukesh is a very decent candidate, hard working and pleasant. Why did he get less votes than the other two Tories? Whilst the Tories have rightly called out Labour for anti semitism, it seems that a section of Tory voters have displayed a horrendous attitude to an excellent candidate here.

Brunswick Park
SurnameFirst NameDescriptionVotes
DepalaMukesh HarilalThe Conservative Party Candidate2362
EnderbyClareineLiberal Democrats321
FarbeyDavid SamuelGreen Party443
HughesMichael JamesLiberal Democrats263
LevineKathyLabour Party (Elected)2369
MagobaClementLabour Party2184
PalmerAndyLabour Party2293
Rutter LisaThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)2517
SegerRoyLiberal Democrats221
Weeden-SanzRobertoThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)2586
I am not at all surprised that Lisa Rutter got back in, as she has a track record. I like Lisa and her husband Mark. She's been supportive of various youth projects I've worked with.  I'd rather hoped that in the year 2018, we'd have moved beyond such appalling voting patterns. This is not a pop at the Conservative Party, who deserve credit for selecting Mukesh, I rather hope that it shames a few people who should know better into thinking about the effects of this sort of casual racism. I have no doubt that Kathy Levine will continue to work hard and be an excellent councillor and in the post Labour Corbyn world, all of those who stayed at home this time will have seen that Labour councillors can deliver. If in four years time, Labour retake seats in Brunswick Park, those racists who denied Mukesh a vote will have only themselves to blame if Labour retakes the seat on Kathy's work.

Another interesting split ward is East Barnet. This was previously held by Labour. At this election, Felix Byers snatched a seat for the Conservatives.

East Barnet
SurnameFirst NameDescriptionVotes
BullenDavid LewisLiberal Democrats323
ByersFelix AlexanderThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)2429
CohenPhilip JohnLabour Party2399
CooperJoLabour Party (Elected)2509
CuratiMargaretGreen Party498
FinlaysonJonLiberal Democrats339
HookerSean JamesLiberal Democrats302
PavanakumarPavanThe Conservative Party Candidate2310
PearceAnne Marie DeniseThe Conservative Party Candidate2365
WilliamsLaurieLabour Party (Elected)2509

East Barnet ward perhaps demonstrates the anti semitism in the Labour Party. Both of the Labour Councillors elected got exactly the same number of votes (2,509). The one who wasn't elected, was also alphabetically top of the list on the polling sheet which is usually a huge benefit. However despite this bonus, which often adds up to 3-400 votes Phil Cohen polled a hundred or so less than his colleagues, letting in Felix Byers. It is clear that Phil was the victim of Labour supporters, who for whatever reason, were not prepared to back a candidate with a Jewish name. The pattern was repeated in West Hendon, where Jewish candidate Adam Langleben finished last for Labour despite being an extremely hard working councillor.

West Hendon Ward
KhalickHumayune Rasheed Labour Party2074
LanglebenAdam MichaelLabour Party2014
SlocombeAgnes CelestineLabour Party2078
The pattern was repeated across the Borough, with Labour candidates with Jewish sounding names doing worse than their colleagues and Conservative candidates with Asian or Eastern European names suffering the same treatment.  Even well known, senior longstanding Conservatives such as Sachin Rajput seem to suffer at the polls from Tory voters dislike of people with Asian names

Oakleigh Ward

RajputSachinThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)2768
Compare his vote to colleagues lower on the list

Smith Thomas Roger, The Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)            2814
Sowerby Stephen Lawrence, The Conservative Party Candidate (Elected) 2774

It is not only Asian sounding names that Conservative voters don't like, spare a thought for their Burnt Oak Candidate, Ekaterina Dragomirova. To poll 20% less than your colleague, in a ward where no campaigning is done and you are second on the list alphabetically is quite revealing. It is rare to hear people being complimentary about "Eastern Europeans". It seems to me that this has translated into the Conservatives ballot box results.

AaronJack OliverThe Conservative Party Candidate985
DragomirovaEkaterina TsenkovaThe Conservative Party Candidate755
RicherNicole AlisonThe Conservative Party Candidate892

I sincerely hope that the Conservative party recognise that there is a problem with their voters, a problem that in a tighter election may cost them.

For the record, Labour does not seem to have the same issue with its Asian named candidates. Have a look at the Labour result in Colindale. The votes follow alphabetic order on the polling sheet, which indicates people have not exercised a racial preference.

Narenthira Nagus Labour Party (Elected) 3121
Sargeant Gill Labour Party (Elected)         2912
Zubairi Zakia Labour Party (Elected)        2831


What we have seen at the ballot box is quite alarming. There is clear evidence of both racism and anti semitism at the polling booth, the flavour of which seems to depend on the party. I do not believe that this is a party political issue as such. We wouldn't have seen it of the parties hadn't picked the candidates. It is a problem with society. It is a very serious problem, as it may put people from minorities off the idea of standing. We are calling for Barnet Council to start taking racism and anti semitism seriously in our Borough. The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem.  The appalling truth is that there are candidates who lost because people who would normally vote for their party seemed to be influenced by their ethnic origin. As an active member of a political party, that is something I find abhorrent. I sincerely hope that by the 2022 council elections, we have reached a stage where people are judged by their capabilities, work rate and effort rather than their ethnic background.

We would like to see Barnet Council pull together a commission fronted by local faith groups, to eradicated this problem and ensure that the London Borough of Barnet is free from racism and anti semitism. It is in all our interests.

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