Lib Dems play race card against UKIP candidate
Shneur Odze – Orthodox Jewish rabbi and UKIP candidate for the first Greater Manchester mayoral election on 4th May 2017 – is once again in trouble because his religious practices clash with political correctness.
More than three years ago when Rabbi Odze (a member of the Lubavitcher Jewish sect) was on the UKIP slate for North West England at the European Parliamentary election, he made national headlines because Orthodox Jewish “religious modesty” laws forbid him to have physical contact with women. Dr Fred McGlade resigned as UKIP’s North West regional organiser in February 2014 because he felt it was inappropriate for Odze to be a candidate. The national UKIP leadership – cynically aware that having Odze on the ticket might help them distance their party from the “far right” took the rabbi’s side, and Dr McGlade quit the party.
Last weekend the issue was raised again by Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Jane Brophy, who complained that Odze refused to shake her hand at a hustings event – not because he objects to Lib Dems, but because he refuses on principle to shake hands with women.
Ms Brophy said:
“I think if you’re standing for a position then religion shouldn’t come into it. I should be treated equally as a woman, as a candidate, as everybody here.”
Perhaps a more serious objection to Rabbi Odze standing as a candidate is that when serving as a Tory councillor in Hackney in 2004, he was censured and suspended from the council for three months after removing a sack of electoral registration forms from the Town Hall and delivering them to a local newspaper in what he claimed was a stunt to reveal poor security. His suspension followed failure to complete a supervised ethical training programme.
The panel censuring Odze commented:
“The evidence indicates that Councillor Odze was, at the least in part, motivated by a wish to compromise the Mayoral election. The evidence suggests that Councillor Odze was aware that what he was doing was wrong, that he was misusing confidential information and that his actions likely to bring his office into disrepute. …Cllr Odze undermined public confidence in the Council and he encouraged a member of staff to breach their contract of employment by co-opting them to assist him in this plan.
As stated above the breach of trust involved in the incident was such as to go to the heart of the relationship between Councillor Odze and the Council. It is difficult to imagine a more serious case being referred back to the Council for local determination.”