Regular readers will recall that I blogged about the Jeremy Newmark saga at the beginning of March, after the JLC published parts of the Report they commissioned. I again expressed scepticism about the allegations against Councillor Newmark. I was aghast at the JC’s reprehensible editorial which called for his resignation as a Councillor and said ‘he must never again have any role in public life’. Sure enough three weeks later (21 March) the JC reported that the police had dropped the matter!
In that blog I reproduced the truly vile letter sent by Hertsmere Conservatives to known Jewish voters in the Borough (from a list ‘compiled informally by activists who had noted which houses had mezuzot’ !!!). Tonight I had the chance to question the Leader of Hertsmere Council who signed the letter, Councillor Morris Bright. The webcast is here (my supplementary question starts at 0h:26m:10s). My question – addressed to Councillor Bright – is here:
He read out a prepared response covering the Standards Board, Nolan Rules, etc.
I followed up with this supplementary:
Councillor Bright – On the basis of an appallingly badly researched and arguably libellous editorial in the Jewish Chronicle a letter went out from the Conservative Association, signed by you but ‘on behalf of 35 Councillors, all 7 Hertfordshire county Councillors and the Hertsmere MP’, suggesting that Councillor Newmark’s conduct when he was CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council would add to fears of the Jewish Community in Elstree and Borehamwood regarding antisemitism. Your clear suggestion was that Councillor Newmark’s conduct fuelled antisemitism. You only sent it to households that you had somehow identified as Jewish!
A few weeks later the police dropped the matter and confirmed there would be no investigation into Councillor Newmark. To anybody like me who had bothered to do their homework it was obvious that Councillor Newmark had done nothing wrong. But you blatantly failed to do your homework. It was even worse than that. Utterly cynically you attempted to weaponise antisemitism with this immoral letter. You said “This is NOT about politics” and you tried to justify that by saying – in a complete non sequitur – that your grandfather was the first Jewish Mayor of Hackney in 1959 and that he would be appalled at what has happened to the Labour Party. You even got that wrong. Your grandfather Morris Blitz was NOT the first Jewish Mayor of Hackney. Solomon Lever was Mayor in 1951.
Councillor Bright – You ended your despicable letter by saying that you hoped that Councillor Newmark would do the right thing – ie resign. My question to you tonight Councillor Bright is will YOU do the right thing? You must AT LEAST now – here – give Councillor Newmark a massive apology for failing to do any due diligence, instead giving credibility to an absurd and completely unjustified Jewish Chronicle editorial and accusing him of fuelling antisemitism. You must also consider your position. Now. Apologise.
No apology. Just some blather about how the letter wasn’t political ahead of the elections because he had called for Councillor Newmark’s resignation once before.
To adjust the final sentence of the infamous letter …
I hope Morris Bright will do the right thing asap. If not, then at the local elections on May 2nd there will be an opportunity for him to be removed by the people.
Postscript: Jeremy Newmark re-elected – JC shamed.