Hendon Hustings Hit Mill Hill Shul

Hendon Hustings, Mill Hill shul: Matthew Offord (C), Henry Grunwald (Chair.), Matthew Harris (LD), Andrew Dismore (L)

On wednesday night Hendon constituents heard the views of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates at the Mill Hill synagogue hustings.

Sadly, the Greens and UKIP, who are also standing, were not there.

All candidates should be allowed to both present their case and be questioned. Otherwise democracy hasn’t been fully administered.

And with the Greens being highly anti-Israel and UKIP generally more sympathetic, it would have spiced up the evening.

Admitedly, there is no chance of the Greens or UKIP getting an MP elected in Hendon, but that could be said of the Liberal Democrats. In 2005 the Liberal Democrats polled a miserable 5,589 votes, while Labour and the Conservatives polled 17,981 and 14,976 respectively.

It will be close on May 6th, but only between Labour and the Conservatives. It’s an exciting race, but a two-horse one.

Also, questions to the candidates were too controlled. There was no hands-up spontaneity.

A few audience members got to ask their previously emailed-in questions and that was it. End of.

After five years of what we have been through, voters should have had a chance to really vent their spleens:

– British soldiers coming back from Afghanistan in coffins.
– a hellish economy.
– inflation, deflation, inflation again.
– scandals involving the bankers and our politicians.
– increasing delegitimisation of Israel and British Jews.

I know we are British and it was in a synagogue hall but surely the sh*t should have been hitting the fan so these politicians know what we really think.

Instead each candidate calmly presented their views and were then politely questioned on:

– reducing public sector waste.
– the misery that is First Capital Connect and Mill Hill Broadway’s train service.
– the expenses debacle.
– financing for nursery schools.
– electoral reform.
– the superficiality of the televised leaders’ debates.
– the academic boycott of Israel and the use of extremist rhetoric by certain Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians.

Andrew Dismore (Labour), has been a hard-working MP and was responsible for introducing Holocaust Memorial Day and has also introduced the Holocaust (stolen art) Restitution Bill.

He also helped to reform the law on dissolving Jewish marriages, which has caused hardship to some Jewish partners.

These are serious achievements, enough to woo the Jewish vote alone especially when added to his constant support for Israel.

He also supports international arrest warrants being approved by the Attorney-General first, so putting these warrants on the same legal standing as actual prosecutions. This would stop Israeli politicians entering Britain being arrested at the whim of a single anti-Israel activist.

But his mention of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s targeting of him as “a Zionist” is slightly disingenuous, although understandable.

MPAC is an insidious organisation that unseated Lorna Fitzsimons in Rochdale in 2005 by claiming that she is Jewish. She isn’t. Sadly, in the current nationwide campaign death threats have already been made against some “Zionist” candidates.

However, in Mill Hill, specifically, usurping Dismore will only let in Matthew Offord (Conservative) or Matthew Harris (Liberal Democrat), both of whom are as “Zionist” as Dismore.

Neither did I think much of Matthew Harris’ claim that we should vote for him as a staunch pro-Israel voice among an increased intake of Liberal Democrat MPs, in light of the recent Clegg phenomenon.

As much as I like Harris you would have to strain every sinew in your body to vote for a party that still includes Jenny Tonge, after all she has said about Jews and Israel. Let alone allowing her to stay in the House of Lords!

The same could be said of voting Labour while Martin Linton and Gerald Kaufman are still there.

Harris felt that sacking Tonge from the party would just make her “a martyr”.

So let her be “martyred”.

Why should taxpayers continue paying her a comfortable daily allowance for just turning up to the Lords?

Matthew Offord (Conservative) proposes putting more police on the streets to deal with the increasing anti-Semitic incidents, which I agree with.

The Conservatives must also carry out their pledge to deal with the preachers of hate stirring up trouble in our universities as well as banning Hizb ut Tahrir.

Tough on anti-Semitism, tough on the causes of anti-Semitism.

Andrew Dismore pointed to the difficulty of banning Hizb ut Tahrir for lack of evidence that connects them to terrorist activity. But the government did manage to ban Islam4UK, so why not Hizb ut Tahrir? This is a cop out.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of the controversial JFS decision all evening.

While I am as concerned as anyone about the domestic ongoings of the last five year under Labour, this government’s moral integrity is highly in doubt when it comes to dealing with a supposed ally like Israel.

While our troops are fighting Taleban Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan, and even the Liberal Democrats support that war, the Israeli Army is being castrated in its efforts to fight Hamas Islamist terrorism.

The most cowardly manifestations of this by Labour were its recent refusal to vote against the Goldstone Report that claims Israel committed war crimes when fighting Hamas in Gaza last year and implicitly denouncing Israel for allegedly killing one self-confessed Hamas terrorist in Dubai, when it sacked an Israeli diplomat just because British passports were used.

Meanwhile, NATO troops are pinpointing and whacking terrorists regularly now in Pakistan.

But David Cameron does not quite get Israel and what it is up against either judging by his recent comment that east Jerusalem is “occupied”.

His comment is inexplicable seeing that he understands the problems that we have with preachers of hate radicalising our students.

What does Cameron think these preachers use to radicalise students other than Israel and Jerusalem? Instead of adopting some of their rhetoric he needs to be more nuanced.

Overall there are far more in the Conservative Party than the other parties, including Matthew Offord and the likes of Michael Gove, that do get Israel and the problems of radicalisation in this country.

They should be given the chance to prove themselves.

(If anyone wants an audio of the hustings feel free to contact me).

13 responses to “Hendon Hustings Hit Mill Hill Shul

  1. Jonathan Hoffman

    How appalling that there were no “open” questions. Disgraceful. What have they got to hide?

  2. Thanks, Richard, and that’s a nice photo! I enjoyed the hustings. Henry chaired it well. Jonathan, I would have been very happy to answer open questions; the format of the meeting was decided by the shul, not by the candidates. But I have no complaints about the way the meeting was run – far from it, I thought it was good.

    Incidentally, Richard, I have to tell you, quite seriously, since my party’s support started rising during this election campaign, I have most definitely noticed an increase in Lib Dem support in Hendon. Things may change by polling day, but I believe that if the election was today, then Mr Dismore would come third and it would be a photo finish between myself and the Conservative candidate.

  3. By the way, if my party expelled Baroness Tonge, she’d still be a taxpayer-funded member of the House of Lords; she’d just no longer be a Liberal Democrat. That’s another good reason to reform the House of Lords and get rid of unelected life peers! Shame the Conservative Party doesn’t agree with me!

  4. Jonathan Hoffman

    Look when you are reduced to saying “elect me because otherwise the LibDems will be entirely anti-Israel” that is really a pretty weak platform, isn’t it …

    Far better to elect Matthew Offord and increase the chance of a Conservative government, since they offer the best chance of a fair deal for Israel.

  5. A UKIP presence would have exposed the shameful consensus these parties have on Europe, as judged by the ‘Westminster’s got talent’ debate held 2 days ago. Perhaps that was why they weren’t invited!

  6. Blacklisted Dictator

    Hi Richard,
    Of course, there should have been open questions from the floor. Unfortunately the Hendon hustings was spoon-fed democracy.
    Matthew Harris should have been ashamed of himself for using “the Israeli supporter in an anti-zionist Liberal party” argument.
    Perhaps it might be worth going through the audio and transcribing his exact quote? It is well worth further discussion.

  7. richardmillett

    Except, Harris is an Israeli supporter in an anti-Zionist party. Most other Lib Dem MPs and candidates, apart from Chris Huhne, aren’t Israel supporters at all. So his argument does stand and he isn’t lacking integrity really, unlike the many of the other Lib Dems standing for Parliament.

  8. Blacklisted Dictator

    A bit like voting for a Jewish candidate in the BNP?
    By the way Matthew Offord is 1-6 to win Hendon. I think that one might conclude that a Tory win is a foregone conclusion.
    Labour is 7-2, and the Liberals, thank Hashem, are 80-1.

  9. Thanks, yes, it would be great to have the audio or the transcript, if that’s something that Richard could send? Thanks. Incidentally, I don’t believe that my party is anti-Zionist, although obviously Baroness Tonge can be labelled as such. I don’t see any Lib Dem MPs who can be labelled as anti-Zionist. I think that Martin Linton and Sir Gerald Kaufman are anti-Zionist, but I don’t believe that the whole Labour Party is anti-Zionist. I am myself, incidentally, a lifelong Zionist, pure and simple, happy to describe myself as one to any audience, including those who are hostile to Israel. And as a Zionist, I know what anti-Zionism really is; the Liberal Democrat leadership’s criticisms of of Israeli governments do not constitute anti-Zionism, especially when you consider the other, more positive things that the leadership says about Israel. Here, by the way, is what I wrote publicly in support of Operation Cast Lead: http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-israel-has-no-option-but-to-defend-itself-against-hamas-and-iran-10239.html

  10. richardmillett

    No one is criticising you, Matthew, only your party who are highly vocal against Israel. Nick Clegg’s call to disarm Israel is the equivalent of being anti-Zionist. How long would Israel last?

    I meant, for the sake of democracy, for those who can’t make it to a hustings for some reason but you, i think, were there!

    Anyway, if you let me know the best place to send it to i will 😉

  11. modernityblog

    Well, from the various exchanges I have read on Lib Dem voice I would have to say that Matthew’s party still has many that would defend Tonge’s vile views and are probably themselves a bit, er fixated with Jews/Israelis/Zionists


  12. Blacklisted Dictator

    I reiterate… please supply Mathew Harris’ quote re the mainstream anti-Israel Liberal Democrat line. I got the impression at the hustings that he was suggesting that the Lib Dems were anti-zionist/Israel.
    Perhaps I musunderstood him?