Cllr Sara Conway

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for  Finchley and Golders Green, Cllr Sara Conway,  has announced her withdrawal from the contest at the next  General Election.  She stated last week  “Due to personal matters I have decided to stand down as the Labour Party’s candidate …… with immediate effect. I would like to thank the Finchley and Golders Green Labour Party for all their support over the past five months.”

The announcement came shortly after Cllr  Conway’s interview elsewhere in the press, reported in last week’s  Jewish Tribune , during which she said Labour’s anti-Semitism row had been “weaponised” and “whipped up”  The Barnet Councillor had stressed  she was not seeking to “dismiss or push back” on claims, but added : “There has been an element…..of the press and right –wing commentators that has drummed this  up to such a level that it then becomes an endless back and forth” that doesn’t work”.

The comments drew criticism from incumbent Conservative MP Mike Freer, who said “I condemn the idea that anti-Semitism has been ‘weaponised’ or ‘drummed up’.  Tell that to the number of Labour activists and MPs like Dame Margaret Hodge.”

Cllr Conway responded to Mr Freer’s condemnation. She said “In my earlier comments I was referring specifically to the right-wing press and far-right commentators on social media, including those who have themselves promoted racist rhetoric, who use this issue as a political football to create polarisation and division – which can undermine our fight against anti-Semitism.”

Cllr Brian Gordon , who had intended to raise the issue at Barnet’s  next Council meeting, said he was pleased Cllr Conway had resigned her candidature. He added  “I would not be at all surprised if the adverse publicity arising from her confused thoughts on antisemitism had something to do with this”.