Veteran Labour councillors join Conservatives

  • Veteran Labour councillors joined Conservatives after smear campaign by far-left activists
  • Former leader of Labour Group ‘rewarded’ with mayoral candidacy after wearing shirt at synagogue comparing Tory councillors to Hitler
  • Labour councillor given “slap on the wrist” for claiming daughter should get new home because neighbour was “gay prostitute”

Two former “old school” Labour councillors have joined the Conservative Party after being targeted in a smear campaign by far-left activists — as details emerged about whitewashing in the local party.

Julie Johnson, who represented West Hendon between 2006 and 2014, said both she and husband Geoff no longer recognised the party she first joined in the 1960s — and were forced out in a takeover by activists who support Jeremy Corbyn.

She said: “It’s not the party I joined anymore. They’ve got too many people who, as far as I’m concerned, are not true Labour people. They’re ultra-left-wingers who jumped on the bandwagon when Corbyn became leader and they’ve made my life a misery for the last five months.

“The worst thing is, the people in the Labour Party who I thought would support me and come to my assistance didn’t, they were watching their own backs. So I’m glad I’ve joined the Conservatives. They’re a very friendly bunch of people and always tried to see things from our point of view when I was a councillor.”

Geoff, who represented Colindale between 2010 and 2014, added: “One of the smears they put about was that Julie called the people on the West Hendon estate ‘rubbish’. We’ve been part of this community for a long time and Julie would never speak to the people of West Hendon like that.

“She actually said there was a lot of rubbish in Welsh Harp and, as chairman of the residents association, I should know. A couple of weeks ago there was a clear up and there were 166 sacks full. Through my political life I’ve always been a union man but I couldn’t stay in Labour. Julie’s granddad was Jewish, too, so the antisemitism has affected her.”

Last week it was reported that Jewish “lifelong socialist” Adele Winston, 75, had defected to the Conservatives over Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to address growing antisemitism in Labour and the local party’s failure to deal with antisemitic abuse she received from an activist.

Barnet Conservatives have also expressed concern about a “whitewash” following the behaviour of two Labour councillors and their insensitivities towards minorities. In both cases the councillors were quietly cautioned following internal Labour investigations. One was even rewarded with the Labour Group’s mayoral candidacy.

The first concerned a since-deleted Facebook post by East Finchley councillor Alison Moore. It showed her attending a Purim party at East Finchley Reform Synagogue wearing a shirt with pictures comparing Conservative councillors Hugh Rayner, Reuben Thompstone and Tom Davey to Adolf Hitler. Cllr Moore, who is a former leader of the Labour Group and who will become Mayor of Barnet if Labour win the May 3 elections, captioned the photo with: “In case anyone was puzzled by the odd fancy dress — villains on the back and heroes on the front.”

Cllr Tom Davey, who is chairman of the Council’s housing committee, has also spoken out against comments made by West Finchley councillor Kath McGuirk during a debate on housing allocations. She told the committee the flat her daughter had been housed in was inappropriate because a neighbouring tenant was “a gay prostitute”. Cllr Davey said this was homophobic and created a safeguarding risk by identifying the resident’s address. He cut short the debate on advice from Council officers.

Council leader Richard Cornelius said: “Labour have repeatedly smeared Conservative councillors with unfounded allegations of ‘dog whistle politics’ on the flimsiest of pretexts — but even lifelong socialists are now joining us because they are fed up of the nastiness, antisemitism and prejudice in the Labour Party.

“Nationally and locally, Labour have responded to allegations of antisemitism and prejudice in their ranks by quietly brushing the matter under the carpet with a slap on the wrist. Just as Shami Chakrabarti was rewarded for her antisemitism whitewash with a peerage, Cllr Moore has been rewarded for her disgraceful behaviour with the Labour candidacy for Mayor of Barnet. This is not the behaviour of a party fit for office. Enough is enough.”


Notes

  • In January 2015 left-wing blogger Theresa Musgrove, aka Mrs Angry, recalled being on the campaign trail with Geoff and Julie Johnson. She said they “seemed to know everyone by name, and worked so hard for the people they represented; old school Labour: Julie being West Hendon to the core, born and bred. The hard slog that these councillors put in, the piles of casework that they deal with: easy to overlook”.