London’s Johnson campaigns in Jewish areas

Johnson, who is in a tight race with Labor candidate and former mayor, visited two of community's landmark bakeries.

April 16, 2012 06:02
2 minute read.

BORIS JOHNSON_370. (photo credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)


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Mayor of London Boris Johnson conducted a tour of some of the Jewish hotspots of north London on Sunday ahead of the city’s mayoral election next month.

Johnson, who is in a tight race with Labor candidate and former mayor Ken Livingstone, dropped into two of the community’s landmark bakeries to shake hands with surprised customers who were out restocking their pantries after Passover.

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The election campaign has become increasingly bitter, with Livingstone in particular drawing heavy criticism from the Jewish community for comments he made in a closed meeting with Jewish Labor party activists. The former mayor said that Jews were unlikely to vote for him as votes for the Left are inversely proportional to wealth levels and that the Jewish community is rich.

He later apologized for the comments and mentioned successes his administration made in cooperation with the Jewish community during his tenure as mayor in an op-ed in the The Jewish Chronicle.

Livingstone has heavily courted London’s large Muslim population and has pledged to educate city residents about Islam and Muhammad’s last sermon, during the mayoral race.

Speaking about a possible descent into sectarian politics, Johnson rejected such tactics and said that it was the mayor’s job to unite the city.

“My job as the mayor of London is to represent all the city and bring people together, not try and play one group off against the other for some psephological calculations,” Johnson told The Jerusalem Post on the campaign’s Boris Battle Bus, referencing the election campaigning. “I think people in all communities recognize that’s the best way for the city.”

The mayor also addressed communal concerns about security issues and said he has raised the issue with the police, following the attacks in Toulouse.

Although Johnson would not say whether or not he would allocate extra resources for security at synagogues, nurseries and private Jewish schools, which provide for their own protection, he asserted that his administration has worked hard to increase the general security situation in London.

“What I will say is that we have fought for extra funding for the police, extra funding for security for all communities of London and I don’t believe in a month of Sundays that that funding would be given to Ken Livingstone from central government,” he said.

He also praised the Jewish communal security CST organization for its work.

During his tour, the mayor visited several London neighborhoods with large Jewish populations, including Edgware, Golders Green and Hendon, ducking into kosher cafes and grocery stores to hand out fliers and talk about the campaign and the city’s needs.

Walking down Golders Green Road, the mayor was waylaid by concerned citizens and wellwishers alike, accompanied by assorted cries and car honks of support, as well as a phalanx of campaign staff and activists.

London goes to the polls on May 3.

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