We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Hertsmere Liberal Democrats condemn by-election abuse

May 2, 2020 3:15 PM

Hertsmere Liberal Democrats have strongly condemned the smear campaign by Hertsmere Conservatives which led to anti-Semitic abuse against Labour candidate Dan Ozarow during February's Hertsmere borough by-election in Kenilworth ward

The harassment, which appeared to be orchestrated, led to Dr Ozarow being labelled across social media as a 'Jew-hating Jew' a 'Nazi,' and 'lacking a Jewish soul', plus calls for him to 'go to the gas chambers' and be 'sent to Tehran'. Several comments of this nature were even posted by sitting Conservative councillors. Hertsmere Conservatives sent a letter from their candidate to Kenilworth voters' homes implying that Dr Ozarow supported Hamas and Hezbollah, and the Independent reported that councillor Paul Morris displayed a similar claim on an electronic billboard outside Elstree and Borehamwood railway station.

Dr Ozarow also received abusive emails and a threatening message about his unborn baby, causing severe distress for his pregnant wife and other family members. These actions are currently being investigated by Hertfordshire police, alongside allegations that Hertsmere Conservatives committed electoral offences and incitement to racial and religious hatred.

Hertsmere Liberal Democrats' condemnation of the abuse follows similar statements from Hertsmere Labour and Green parties, on an issue where the borough's opposition parties have found common ground.

Jerry Evans, Liberal Democrat councillor for Bushey North, said:

"While Hertsmere Liberal Democrats fully recognise that anti-semitism in any form is abhorrent, we must condemn the tactics Hertsmere Conservatives have used to smear Labour candidates in recent elections.

"Calling out genuine anti-semitism is vital. But weaponising any scrap of a candidate's past to twist into slurs such as 'self hating Jew' or 'the worst anti-Semite' is, frankly, disgusting.

"It is very clear to us that this behaviour, far from helping to stamp out racism, actually incited a wave of abuse that has been deeply upsetting to everyone involved.

"The rub is that this tactic, employed by Hertsmere Conservatives with the sole aim of winning an election, caused a wave of Jew-on-Jew abuse, a rise in local anti-semitism and dragged local politics into the deepest, dirtiest, gutter".

Saif Al-Saadoon, chair of Hertsmere Liberal Democrats, commented:

"At this time of crisis in our country, when we are hearing heart-warming stories of communities coming together, it is particularly important that we take a stand against such divisive and damaging behaviour."

"We call on Hertsmere Conservatives to apologise unreservedly to Dr Ozarow for their conduct during the by-election campaign.

"It is time to end such vicious and desperate personal attacks and instead focus on the local issues which really matter in our borough. Quite simply, the residents of Hertsmere deserve better".