What happened in Barnet?

Adam Langleben, Barnet Labour councillor, has made a video which is circulating widely, which gives the impression that Jewish voters in Barnet have deserted Labour in droves. In the media he has reported that Jewish voters had told him “not this time”. According to him “every” Jewish household was the same. That man Corbyn is, apparently, to blame for Labour failing to win Barnet. Look at the election results and the picture of Labour failing as a result of Jewish voters deserting it looks questionable.

Analysing election results is notoriously difficult for the simple reason that the outcome is the result of individual decisions by thousands of people. What happened in Barnet? Labour lost 6 seats to the Tories and gained one from the Liberal Democrats. The Tories had 32 seats in 2014, Labour 30 and the Libdems 1. This became Tories 38, Labour 25 in 2018. First of all, let’s look at the four wards in which Labour lost seats, and the one in which they won a seat, and compare the results with those in 2014. Read on below or download a PDF here barnetanalysis

West Hendon: three Labour losses.

2018

2014

Churchus

LD

264

Bunting

Green Party

300

Don

Con ELECTED

2196

Emery J

LD

163

Green

Green Party

299

Emery P

LD

172

Khalick

Labour

2074

Green

Green Party

292

Langleben

Labour

2014

Hettiarachchi

Con

1488

Lees

LD

236

Ive

LD

163

Prager

Con ELECTED

2155

Kay

Labour ELECTED

1769

Richman

Con ELECTED

2130

Langleben

Labour ELECTED

1794

Slocombe

Labour

2076

Mann

Con

1459

Watson

LD

184

Murray-Leonard

UKIP

445

Samuel

Green Party

307

Slocombe

Labour ELECTED

1747

Sodha

Con

1357

Total votes cast

13,628

Total votes cast

11,456

Labour votes

6164

Labour votes

5,310

Tory votes

6481

Tory votes

4,304

Labour had all three seats in West Hendon in 2014 but lost them lost all to the Tories in 2018. Votes cast increased by 2,172 in 2018. The Labour vote went up by an average of 284 for its three candidates. However, the Tory vote increased by an average of 725. The best placed Labour candidate was just 56 votes below the lowest placed Tory.

Brunswick Park : One Labour loss

2018

2014

Depala

Con

2362

Beeton

LD

270

Enderby

LD

321

Ioniddis

Labour ELECTED

1944

Farbey

Green Party

443

Javes

Green Party

499

Hughes

LD

263

Levine

Labour ELECTED

1951

Levine

Labour ELECTED

2369

Otten

LD

168

Magoba

Labour

2184

Ritson

LD

218

Palmer

Labour

2293

Rowe

Labour

1820

Rutter

Con ELECTED

2517

Rutter

Con ELECTED

1899

Seger

LD

221

Savvides

Con

1742

Weeden-Sanz

Con ELECTED

2586

Tambourides

Con

1876

Total votes cast

15,559

Total votes cast

12387

Labour votes

6,846

Labour votes

5,715

Tory votes

7,465

Tory votes

5,517

Labour won two seats in Brunswick Park in 2014, the Tories one. In 2018 Labour lost one to the Tories. There were 3,172 extra votes cast. Labour’s vote rose by an average of 377 per candidate, the Tories increased by an average of 382.

East Barnet: One Labour loss

2018

2014

Bullen

LD

323

Aitken

Green Party

638

Byers

Con ELECTED

2429

Challice

Labour ELECTED

2108

Cohen

Labour

2399

Cohen

Labour ELECTED

1993

Cooper

Labour ELECTED

2509

Evangeli

Con

1894

Curati

Green

498

Giltinane

LD

173

Finlayson

LD

339

Pressland

Green Party

505

Pavanakumar

Con

2310

Rams

Con

1820

Pearce

Con

2365

Roberts

LD

194

Williams

Labour ELECTED

2509

Tambourides

Con

1873

Umbo

LD

175

Samuel

Green Party

307

Varvarides

Green Party

576

Williams

Labour ELECTED

2044

Total votes cast

15,681

Total votes cast

14,300

Labour votes

7,417

Labour votes

6,145

Tory votes

7,104

Tory votes

5,587

In 2014 Labour won all three seats in East Barnet, in 2018 it lost one to the Tories. The extra votes cast were 1,381 in 2018. Labour’s vote increased by an average of 424 and the Tories by an average of 505. Labour lost its one seat by just 30 votes.

Hale: one Labour loss

2018

2014

Ambe

Labour

2166

Ceasar

Green Party

536

Barker

Labour

2347

Creighton

LD

297

Batt

Green Party

420

Davey

Con ELECTED

2178

Creighton

LD

355

Goodman

LD

335

Goodman

LD

397

Jacobs

LD

243

Gurung

Con ELECTED

3007

Jeanmaire

Labour

1994

Jacobs

LD

306

Lyons K

Labour ELECTED

2019

Jajeh

Con ELECTED

2999

Lyons R

Labour

1830

Simberg

Con ELECTED

3130

Rayner

Con ELECTED

2155

Velleman

Labour

1976

Simberg

Con

2010

Total votes cast

17,103

Total votes cast

13,597

Labour votes

6,489

5,843

Tory votes

9,136

6,343

In Hale in 2014 Labour had one candidate elected, the Tories two. In 2018 the Tories took all three. Labour increased its vote by an average of 548 per candidate, but the Tories increased theirs by and average of 931. There were 3,506 extra votes cast in 2018.

Childs Hill: one Labour gain

2018

2014

Clarke

Labour ELECTED

2224

Ajakaiye

Labour

1408

Cohen

LD

1279

Cohen

LD ELECTED

1509

Ferguson

Green Party

406

Davies

LD

1198

Gearson

Con

2222

Grover

Con

1500

Palmer

LD

1126

Henry

LD

1222

Pate

Labour

2080

Marasco

Green Party

501

Patel

LD

876

Patel

Labour

1381

Ryde

Con ELECTED

2262

Ryde

Con ELECTED

1544

Young

Labour

1877

Smith

Labour

1463

Zinkin

Con ELECTED

2243

Zinkin

Con ELECTED

1536

Total votes cast

16,595

Total votes cast

13,262

Labour votes

6,181

Labour votes

4,252

Tory votes

6,727

4,580

Here Labour made one gain from the Libdems and the Tories maintained 2 seats. The winning Labour candidate’s vote was almost 800 higher than the highest placed Labour candidate in 2014. Labour votes rose by 1,929, an average of 643. The Tory vote increased by 2,138, an average of 712 votes.

High Barnett

2018

2014

Belandra

Labour

2386

Fletcher

Green Party

973

Cohen

LD

577

Gibson

LD

631

Lemon

Labour

2344

Harding

Labour

1209

Longstaff

Con ELECTED

2764

Haylett

Labour

1188

Macdonald

LD

581

Hooker

LD

705

Michaels

LD

481

Lawson

Green Party

826

Prentice

Con ELECTED

2792

Levine

Labour

1052

Rowland

Independent

471

Longstaff

Con ELECTED

2161

Teare

Con ELECTED

2605

Macdonald

LD

859

Trevethan

Labour

2604

Perry

Con ELECTED

2152

Wade

Green Party

328

Poppy

Green Party

922

Wicksteed

Green Party

425

Prentice

Con ELECTED

2171

Total votes cast

15,681

Total votes cast

14,300

Labour votes

7,334

Labour votes

3,449

Tory votes

8,161

Tory votes

6,484

In High Barnet, even though the Tories once again won all three seats, Labour’s vote more than doubled. The lower Green vote only accounts for half of the increase. Labour was within two votes of winning a seat.

What happened and why?

There can be no doubt that the accusations of anti-semitism in the Labour Party have had a negative impact on its electoral results (I’ll look at the national results in a separate article). But the picture painted by the media and opponents of Corbyn that Labour’s lost seats were due simply to Jewish Labour voters refusing to vote for them is as yet unproven. Obviously to get a rounded picture you would have to look at all the results and the social composition of each of the wards in the constituency. The situation is far more complicated than the easy headlines suggest.

Labour’s vote did not collapse as a result of Jewish voters abandoning support. In fact its vote increased by 23,000 in comparison with 2014 though the percentage increase overall was just 1% because of the higher turnout. Even if Labour hoovered up the Green Party’s lost 11,000 votes that only accounts for half of the increase.

More interesting still was Labour’s gain in Childs Hill. According to blogger Broken Barnet (Teresa Musgrove, a Labour member) this is a ward with 17% Jewish population. Why did the Labour vote increase by almost 800? The Labour candidate, Anne Clarke, was a leader of the Save Barnett Libraries campaign. Teresa Musgrove suggests that she was elected “because she is that rare thing: a candidate who has proved her worth by being steeped in local activism, deeply embedded in grassroots local issues and several local campaigns…”

There are other factors at play as well. Broken Barnet talks about the “changing face” of West Hendon. One of the issues in the ward was “the faux regeneration of the former West Hendon council estate: call it ‘regeneration’, call it social cleansing – the result in terms of political outcome is a radical realignment of old loyalties.”

Broken Barnett suggests that Labour’s record in opposition “has not been strong – or even memorable”.

Time and again their performance has been too low key, unclear, weak and poorly communicated to residents. Too many times the Labour group has failed to challenge the iniquitous agenda of the Tory administration, to fight with real passion, and well directed strategy…The continual struggle to expose the damning truth about the performance of the Capita contracts has been left to Unison,and local activists and bloggers….A preference in favour of life in the centre of the party is partly to blame for this fatal inertia, as is a position out of step with the new energy within the Labour movement and the key policies of a hugely popular manifesto.”

Take the fight against Library cuts: this should have come from Labour, not have been left to the group, Save Barnet Libraries, to pursue. Instead we saw the library lead in Labour actually take part in a bid to run one of the Tories new ‘partnership’ libraries: an excruciating blunder that horrified campaigners, and further alienated them from the Party”.

This reflects a wider problem at the national level. One of the lowest levels of support for Corbyn was amongst Labour councillors, many of whom have resisted breaking from New Labour’s agenda. The absence of a struggle against the austerity agenda at the level of councils has not enhanced Labour’s electoral fortunes, especially when some of their councils have implemented whatever is passed down from central government, without any campaign against the cuts. Too many Labour councils see themselves as mere administrators, managers.

Certainly the result in Childs Hill shows that where resistance is organised against attacks on public services then your electoral prospects are enhanced. The local Labour group does not appear to have been interested in mobilising opposition to the Tory council in defence of public services.

Anti-Semitism

So far as the issue of anti-semitism is concerned Broken Barnett refers to her own ward of West Finchley “which has a Jewish community of more diverse character than that of West Hendon”.

One might expect there to be a higher level of Labour voters who would be upset by the antisemitism issue – yet this was retained for Labour, with an increased vote, despite the departure of veteran, and much loved, councillor Jim Tierney. Rabbi Danny Rich was elected in his place – he is a senior figure within the community of Liberal Judaism: hopefully voters found assurance in his candidacy, and voted accordingly.”

It is possible that Jewish voters who did not vote in 2014 did so in 2018 to ‘punish’ Labour. However, given the size of the increase of 38,000 in the Tory vote, and the fact that the Jewish population only comprises 15%, this increase can hardly have been comprised only of Jewish voters.

Generally speaking what are described as different ethnic ‘communities’ do constitute block votes. They do not vote according to their ethnicity or religion. They all have different political views across these communities. There is no single ‘Jewish community’ represented by the Board of Deputies. There are many and varied Jewish communities. There are class differences amongst them as with the population at large. There are differences amongst Jewish voters, some of whom believe that there is a definite campaign against Labour, exaggerate the scale of anti-semitism within the party. (See Anti-Semitism: real and counterfeit)1

The picture in Barnet is far more complex than editorial writers or politicians with an axe to grind are prepared to admit. Those local leaders who have tried to simply blame Corbyn for the fact that Labour did not win a majority on the council, are conveniently drawing attention away from their own responsibilities, highlighted by Broken Barnet.

Martin Wicks

May 8th 2018

Addendum

Overall vote 2018

2014

Party

Vote

%

Vote

%

Conservatives

146,605

47%

108,774

41.7%

Labour

126,508

40.6%

103,429

39.6%

Greens

10,107

3.2%

21,193

8.1%

LD

27,472

8.8%

20,355

7.8%

UKIP

122

5,851

2.2%

Independent

471

0.2%

1,264

0.5%

Left Unity

107

Women’s Equality

497

0.2%

Total votes cast

311,782

260,973

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