Stability is key as Oliver seeks more
OLIVER DOWDEN has been Hertsmere’s MP for just two years, but those years have seen a marked shift in Britain’s political climate.
Prior to being elected in 2015 he was David Cameron’s deputy chief of staff.
But barely 12 months after Mr Dowden entered Parliament, his former boss sought the exit, after losing the referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
As Mr Dowden says, it is a “profoundly important and interesting time to be in Parliament, at a time of such extraordinary change”.
Born and raised in Hertsmere, he has seen the Jewish population in the area grow significantly, going, as he puts it, “from being slightly on the outside to being integral, and enriching community life enormously”. The constituency now has one of the largest Jewish communities in the country.
“On a national level,” Mr Dowden says, “I’ve tried to be a voice for the community, for example, by standing up to antisemitism and anti-Israeli sentiment, in questions and representations to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary”.
On local matters, the 38-year-old has been busy dealing with transport issues such as the Thameslink rail route, and education.
“We’ve made some progress, but there’s a lot more to do”, he says. “I’ve managed to help get a new primary school at Yavneh but, at the secondary level, it’s pretty clear to me that we are at least one form short in the broader Hertsmere/north London area.
“There’s just not enough capacity at Yavneh or the other
Jewish schools in north London. I will certainly be continuing to campaign to get that greater capacity, because I know how frustrating it is for parents — particularly for Jewish parents, who want their child to have a good Jewish education — and there’s not a place for them.”
If re-elected, Mr Dowden highlights “continuing to champion Jewish communal causes, improving our transport, protecting our green spaces, and helping to support our local schools” as his priorities.
“On security, one of the saddest things as an MP representing a constituency with a large Jewish population is that when you visit Jewish schools or shuls, the level of security that you have to go through.
“These are children going to school and families going to worship, and it’s a sad fact of life that security needs to be in place. I continue to make the case for resources to provide community security.”
However, as Mr Dowden says, after June, “clearly a lot of attention will be on the EU and the terms of our withdrawal. We’ll have to scrutinise the terms of Britain’s exit, so I will take a Sitting MP:
Oliver Dowden (Con) Majority: 18,461
Size of electorate: 70,772
Percentage of Jewish voters: 14.3 close interest in that”.
The result in Hertsmere mirrored that of the country almost exactly in the EU referendum: 50.8 percent voted to leave, 49.1 percent voted to remain.
Like Theresa May, Mr Dowden is a former Remain supporter. He describes himself as having been a “reluctant remainer… swung by two factors, the economic impact and geopolitical impact of leaving.
“However, I thought it was right for the British people to have their say and, both locally and nationally, people voted by a small but clear majority to leave the EU. So I see my job now as making sure that we actually deliver on that, to get the best possible deal.”
Labour and the Liberal Democrats are yet to select their candidates in the Hertsmere constituency.
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