The announcement of the general election came at the same time as starting the role in Yorkshire and the East coast. Alongside the Leeds Jewish Rep Council, we created a committee of lay leaders in which to assist with political engagement. During the election campaign period we met with 30 candidates from across 18 seats and attended 6 hustings and 1 community event in Bradford to meet with candidates.
Leeds North East (the Leeds constituency with the largest Jewish population) hosted a Jewish hustings at a local synagogue in which was attended by the three main parties, the turn out for the event was 160 people, very pleasing after such a short turn around.
The election results showed a few friends keeping their seats Mary Creagh (Wakefield) Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Castleford and Pontefract) and Rachel Reeves (Leeds West) as well as Leeds North West previously held by Lib Dem Greg Mulholland being won by Jewish MP Alex Sobel.
The majority of new MP’s in the region are Labour including Jared O’mara in Nick Cleggs old seat of Sheffield Hallam, and Laura Pidcock in Pat Glass’ old seat of North West Durham – both members are seen as Corbynites and far left candidates.
During the election period I had regular update meetings with the President of the LJRC who coordinated the lay person committee that accompanied me to meetings with candidates – this enabled our working relationship to strengthen quickly into the role. During the beginning of the election we worked together with the Bradford Community and the Lib Dem central office once David Ward was announced as a parliamentary candidate, and also attended events with Naz Shah and Salma Yaqoob to distinguish the mood for Bradford West. Shah held the seat with an increased majority and has committed to meeting with us and continuing the relationship with the community.
External to the election – I have been to meet the Sheffield and York communities and discussed ways in which the JLC can help them either with parliamentary engagement or community and have plans to meet with the Newcastle community during the summer. I will continue to work with the MP’s already met within West Yorkshire and expand that further with the respective communities’ involvement. As well as this I have been introduced to the Harrogate and Bradford communities and continue to work with them.
Locally, I have met with many of the decision makers and stakeholders with in the community to establish working relationships and have attended crisis planning meetings and Project Griffin training with CST. The presence of the JLC within the Leeds Community is definitely on the rise and the community is aware of the work we are doing in the area. I look forward to expanding this work and creating more relationships both internally and externally.