From the beginning of my active involvement in the political process I was aware of a degree of anti-semitism. When I first stood in a local by-election, and then later became a councillor here in Redbridge, this repulsive venom came from two quite distinct directions.
There was the militant hard left which had never grown out of its student days’ political fallacy of ‘no platform for racists and fascists’. The aim was to attack and exclude the Conservatives and the Jews – so they had me coming and going.
There were also the old-style fascists who had come from roots in the National Front and remodelled themselves into various factions, including the BNP. Their overt racism and hatred for Jews was clear for all to see.
Both extremes exhibited similar forms of intolerance and outright thuggish intimidation, directed both at the electorate and their various democratic opponents. In some ways, I got used to the occasional comment at the door when canvassing an elector whose opening remark was: ‘I’m not anti-Jewish, but…’ It was always a very big but. As a candidate you have to work through it, make your case when possible – and move on.
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