AN OPEN LETTER TO MY SUPPORTERS IN BOREHAMWOOD KENILWORTH
First of all I wanted to thank each and every one of you who voted for me on Thursday. To all of you who put your faith in me to become your councillor, or who have showed me care and love in these past two years that I have been your Labour ward champion. I am also indebted to the incredible team of volunteers at Hertsmere Labour Party who dedicated so much time to help me in the two election campaigns I have stood in over the last year.
I have knocked on thousands of doors, spoken to hundreds of you, and many of you have become friends. I have met some amazing people on this journey. Each of you special in your own way. We have laughed together, shared stories about our lives and our families and sometimes we have even cried in each other’s arms. I am so sorry that I will not get the chance to be your ward councillor. It would have meant so much to me.
Through this process I have heard why you are proud to live here in Borehamwood. But I have also listened to the multitude of problems and neglect you feel you are experiencing at the hands of complacent, self-serving, arrogant Conservative council. I truly believe that as your councillor I could have helped transform your ward and brought about many of the improvements you sought.
What hurts the most is that ultimately I was defeated following a vicious, libellous racist smear campaign against me by Hertsmere Conservatives or their supporters. I was branded a terrorist sympathiser, a Marxist, a self-hating Jew, and they spread lies about me being a member of the JVL and Elstree Liberation Front (the latter by Brett Rosehill, the Conservative candidate himself). Each of these labels are utter fabrication. To dedicate an entire leaflet to residents simply to smear me, to hire out the huge LCD screen at Elstree Station to defame me, for the Jewish Chronicle to run an entire article to scare voters away from me and drag my name through the mud in my own (Jewish) community that I love and have worked and volunteered in for so many years. Why? These are extraordinarily desperate actions that blow a hole in the validity of the entire local democratic process and in the legitimacy of the election result itself.
This vote was stolen from me a second time, in an even more painful, unjust way than the first, when I lost on the drawing of lots following a dead heat back in May.
These smears also incited the most vile anti-Semitic abuse on social media that I received in my life. I also received an offensive communication at my work email. I have been told to go and die in the gas chambers, that I am a “self-hating Jewish C***” along with other anti-Semitic tropes being created about me. My family has also received abuse over a matter that is literally nothing to do with them. This has upset me deeply and also caused enormous stress to my heavily pregnant wife. I hope those who created or shared these sleep soundly at night. Neither me or my family deserve the smears, relentless intimidation and abuse we have suffered. Hertsmere Conservatives have been reported to the police for inciting racial hatred.
All I am is just a simple guy who loves his community, feels an affection for the people of Borehamwood Kenilworth and wants to try to make it a better place. Why were my political enemies were so afraid of me winning? Why did you feel the need to be so vindictive, to politically execute me? Just because I was making a few changes for our community, because I want to create a better Borehamwood?
But let’s also remember that have achieved some incredible things by standing together recently.
We have saved the wildlife and trees in Well End and forced the developer to re-auction the land he had tried to hack down. I have helped get the Well Enders a seat to speak to the Council's Portfolio Holders about creating a Conservation Area. I am proud to have started the petition that offset that process.
It looks like we saved at least one of the ancient Ely Gardens oaks through our protests. I am delighted to have stood with you, to have helped organise this campaign and to have lodged the Freedom of Information request that brought into doubt the shoddy evidence of any damage the tree roots were doing to the properties that were being used as an excuse to fell them.
I am glad that I have helped give voice to many of you who are campaigning over the appalling parking situation around the town, especially in Manor Way where my public question forced the Council's Portfolio Holder to listen to residents whose petition had been ignored for eight months.
With anti-social behaviour on the rise, I am also happy that I played a role in resolving such issues on Tempsford Avenue and Ripon Way.
Together, we prevented the hideous podland development that would have seen an environmental disaster take place on the Aldenham Reservoir embankment and ruined the experience for local people as it was turned into a high-end tourist development. I am proud that I ran the Freedom of Information request that exposed the owners’ myth about the dam being in a precarious state – an excuse they wanted to use to force through planning acceptance of the podland proposal.
As your councillor, I would have given you my heart and soul. But it wasn’t to be. Please don’t let my defeat crush your hopes for a better Borehamwood. You can all be Dans, and equally, I hope I can be as brave as many of you have with your own personal challenges that you have told me about over the past couple of years.
All being well, in a few weeks time I will become a father again. I’ll be withdrawing from the local political arena for now to prioritise my family and parenthood. This experience has been very emotionally draining. However, community activism is in my DNA and Borehamwood is in my heart. I won't let the Tory intimidation and smears break me.
I wish you well, thank you so much again, and please come and say hi if you see me around The Wood.
Yours in peace and love