Give despair a chance
The return of religion in English politics
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, had been the target of a suspected arson attack, and had previously taken to wearing a stab vest after learning that David Amess’s killer had carried out a reconnaissance on his location.
Two days before Freer’s announcement there had been a knife attack at a kosher market in his constituency. A fortnight earlier, a mob descended on a Jewish event in nearby Hendon after the address was leaked. Also this year, a man brandishing an imitation firearm was seen accosting Jewish pedestrians in Clapton. A pupil was attacked outside the JFS (formerly the Jewish Free School). Three Israelis were assaulted in the West End for speaking Hebrew. Before Christmas, police investigated claims that Jewish children were prevented from getting on buses in London. At the eastern edge of London, the Borough of Havering cancelled its Chanukah celebrations over ‘community tension concerns’.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression to foreign visitors. London is a big city and a safe one. There aren’t ‘no-go zones’, although there are zones you might not want to go to. I regularly use the Northern Line and pretty much every day will see at least one man wearing a yarmulke without anyone bothering them. Most people in London can, and do, live a normal life as if nothing is happening, which is the benefit of a big city, but also part of the problem.