Clive Lewis: ‘I have Jewish friends who will struggle to vote Labour’
PUBLISHED: 12:43 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:43 02 December 2019
A Norwich Labour candidate has hit back at the results of a major poll predicting a Conservative victory across the UK, claiming: “Norfolk won’t always be blue.”
Clive Lewis, who is standing in Norwich South, said the YouGov poll results - which forecast a Tory win in every Norfolk seat bar his constituency, could "galvanise people" ahead of the election.
He also addressed the issue of anti-Semitism saying he had Jewish friends who are unsure about whether to vote for Labour.
Mr Lewis, who held the seat in the 2017 with a majority of more than 15,000, said: "The only poll that matters is on December 12.
"Seeing the stark reality of a Tory majority when people were thinking there would be a hung parliament galvanises people.
"In Norwich South, we've got used to being in a sea of blue
"It doesn't mean it's always going to be that way. Norfolk will not always be blue.
"We need to make that sooner rather than later."
He added: "When I started on the doorstep it was a tough sell.
"Jeremy comes across better during an election campaign."
He added there had been an "upward trajectory" since their manifesto, calling for NHS and mental health investment and a "green industrial revolution".
But he admitted the Labour party's anti-Semitism issue - and the reaction to Jeremy Corbyn's BBC interview with Andrew Neil which saw him fail to apologise to the Jewish community - "had come up on the doorstep".
Mr Lewis said: "Anti-Semitism is a scourge. My personal view is that the Labour party needs to be beyond reproach because we are the party of liberation.
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"There's always work to do and we expect so much more of ourselves. I would have apologised personally and I have apologised.
"Jeremy Corbyn has apologised in 2017 and 2018."
But he added that people have described the issue as a "concern" and said: "I have Jewish friends who have said they will struggle to vote Lab and that hurts me. But I also have Jewish friends who have no qualms about voting Labour."
He said conversations on the doorstep more frequently centred around "leadership, trust in politicians, Brexit, and the NHS".
The MP refused to speculate over the possibility of a new Labour leader, saying: "For me in the middle of an existential election fight to start talking about that is crass stupidity."
But he said a "big ambition" would be a job in a Labour-run Treasury, "funding policies to de-carbonise the economy".
He added: "People say 'you must have ambition'. Well, that's a big ambition, to be a part of a team that delivers that."
The candidates standing in the constituency are: Sandy Gilchrist (Brexit Party), Clive Lewis (Labour), Catherine Rowett (Green Party), Mike Spencer (Conservative) and James Wright (Liberal Democrat).