A Conservative councillor caused an uproar at the Radlett election hustings when he shouted at the Labour candidate, Holly Kal-Weiss, that she wasn’t British.
At Monday nights meeting at the United Synagogue (December 2) Hertsmere Borough Councillor, Anthony Spencer roared “she’s not British, she’s American”.
Holly fired back: “I have a British passport and I’ve lived here 30 years. How long do you have to live in the UK to be considered British?”
Cllr Spencer then tried to make an issue of an old photo of Holly Kal-Weiss at a woman’s march in Washington where the person next to her had a Palestinian flag.
Challenged by Holly to show the photo, the audience were heard to shout “sit down” to him.
The infuriated chair, QC, Jeffrey Gruder, told Cllr Spencer, “You, with respect, are disgracing yourself. Sit down,” with cheers and claps from the audience.
The scene was captured on video by a member of the audience.
After the meeting, Holly Kal-Weiss said “I was absolutely shocked. It was blatant racism. I have worked long hard in the local community as a social worker, teacher and campaigner.”
Hertsmere Labour spokesperson, Nik Oakley, said: “Conservative Party candidate, Oliver Dowden, signed up to a ‘clean campaign’ pledge and challenged the other candidates to do the same. We were more than happy to do that, but it would appear that some of his campaign team did not agree.
“It was an unedifying spectacle bringing the Conservative Party into disrepute and Oliver Dowden has rightly distanced himself from it.”
Cllr Spencer said: “I took exception to the fact that the Labour candidate described herself as British. If she had said a dual nationality it would have been different.
“She was mirroring the room, so she was psychologically making the room think they’re exactly like them. 23 times she said she was Jewish and so am I so it is what it is at the end of the day.”
At the moment of Cllr Spencer’s outburst, the panel was talking about nationalisation and he believed her answer was unsatisfactory.
He added: “Her answer was to borrow zillions without any questions asked when the interest rates are so low at around one per cent. I felt this was an unsatisfactory answer.
“I also showed her a picture of the candidate with another woman in America holding a flag stating ‘free Palestine’ which essentially means killing the Jewish population and clearing them out of Palestine.
“I thought it was totally inappropriate for this audience with a large Jewish audience in the town.
“I said she was an American citizen – it’s not racist at all. She was born in America, not England.”
Oliver Dowden CBE, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Hertsmere, said he disagrees with Cllr Spencer’s statement.
He commented: “There was a lot of concern at the hustings last night about Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party and anti-Semitism.
“I’ve known Cllr Spencer for several years and understand why he feels so angry about this issue, but do not agree with him over Holly’s nationality.”