MP Tugendhat is ‘saddened’ by antisemitism on campaign trail

MP Tugendhat is 'saddened' by antisemitism on campaign trail

The Tonbridge & Malling Conservative MP was returned with 62.8 per cent of the vote but after the count in the Angel Centre in the early hours of last Friday [December 13], he said: “It was a campaign that wasn’t as always as clean as previous ones.”

He added: “For the first time I faced antisemitism, which I found particularly offensive and very surprising for a community like this – and frankly rather distasteful.

“It’s very un-Tonbridge, it’s very un-Kent and it’s very un-British.

“I hope that kind of behaviour will be left behind us for various reasons, some of them particularly obvious. I would hope that type of attitude is going to leave our politics for good.”

The Labour Party has been dogged by accusations of anti-Jewish abuse among its members and the executive’s inability to cope with it.

The leader Jeremy Corbyn was repeatedly grilled about his stance on the issue and called upon to apologise for his party’s failings in dealing with the problem.

Tugendhat is a Jewish name by origin and members of the MP’s family were murdered in the Holocaust.

Mr Tugendhat told the Times: “Over the years I have heard antisemitic abuse in the UK and around the world. What saddened me this election is that I heard it in our community.

“I’m glad to say these views are clearly rare in West Kent, but I am disappointed they happen at all.”

He also reacted angrily to some hate mail that fellow Conservative candidate Nus Ghani received in her Wealden constituency.

A leaflet posted through her door was defaced with the words: “We don’t want you as our MP. Go back to Kashmir.
Useless racist b****.”

Ms Ghani tweeted: “Today’s post – so I’m the racist & being told to go back to where I come from?”

Mr Tugendhat responded: “This hateful language has come up too often. I’ve heard antisemitism on the doorstep for the first time. This must end.

“Some of [my] family fled Nazi persecution to come to an island of liberty. We are still that island today. We’re better than this.”

Though Tom Tugendhat’s share of the vote was down by almost one point on the 2017 result, he claimed he had secured the largest majority since Tonbridge & Malling was created in 1974. This means that the gap between first and second place is the widest on record.

“It is an honour and immense privilege to be re-elected to serve Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling with the largest majority in the history of the seat,” he said. “I am truly grateful to those who supported me last week and helped with my campaign.

“This election is a huge mandate for me to continue delivering for our community on the things that matter: building our new medical centre, investing in our schools and colleges and continuing to improve our High Street.”

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