For voters in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green, in North London, concerns about the recent performance of the Conservative Party appeared to overshadow lingering concerns about the Labor Party’s previous mishandling of antisemitism cases.
In the 2019 general election, Labor suffered a significant loss of support in the parliamentary constituency that covers Golders Green – apparently a reaction to allegations of anti-Semitism in Labor under Jeremy Corbyn. But in the local elections on Thursday, voters unseated the party of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Barnet, the borough that covers Golders Green, and returned control of the council to Labor.
Steve Andresier, 70, who has lived in Golders Green for 30 years, said he had voted for two Labor candidates and one Green party candidate in these elections because he wanted to get rid of the Conservatives.
He got the scandals plaguing the government of Mr. Johnson – the prime minister violated the lockdown restrictions he imposed during the pandemic – had further strengthened his resolve to vote against the Tories.
The elections will not have a direct effect on the national government, but Mr. Andresier said he wanted to send a message. “I detest them,” he said, describing Mr. Johnson as “a clown,” adding that he wanted to signal his discontent with the government with his vote.
Thomas Radice, 81, said that the national political situation had also influenced his vote, but he added that he did not think the Conservatives had been effective at the local level, either.
He cited a lack of transparency among top government officials and said that the Conservative Party no longer seemed to be united behind Mr. Johnson. “We’ll see after today, maybe there will be quite a shift in loyalty toward Johnson,” they said. “And I want to give a push toward that.”
In Barnet, which is about 15 percent Jewish, Mr. Corbyn’s successor as Labor leader, Keir Starmer, signaled his commitment to make amends when he began his party’s campaign in the borough last month.
Under Mr. Starmer, Labor has worked to root out anti-Semitism and mend its ties with British Jews. But some voters in Golders Green, which has an even larger Jewish population than Barnet as a whole, described the lingering hesitation about voting for Labor even though they were disillusioned with the Conservatives.
At a church just off a main street lined with kosher delis and a bagel shop, residents arrived to cast their ballots on Thursday. Among them was Jonathan Hyman, 74, who is Jewish. The Labor Party had made a huge effort to revive its reputation, they said, “but I think there is a tarnishing,” they said.
Mr. Hyman voted Conservative on Thursday, as he typically does, but said he was overwhelmingly distrustful of politicians.
“They all tell lies,” they said.
Mia Chaudhuri, 26, a committed Labor supporter, acknowledged that the last general election was a difficult time for the party in her area.
“I do think Keir Starmer is more widely appealing overall,” she said, especially as she works in a Parliament with “a new level of chaos.”
Vivienne Lewis, 66, and her husband, Alan Lewis, 69, who are Jewish and have lived in the area for three decades, came out to vote together on Thursday. They both said they had voted Conservative.
“But I always vote Conservative with a heavy heart,” Mr. Lewis, a former Labor voter, said.
Mrs. Lewis described her vote as the better of two bad choices. The House of Commons, she said, has “become like a massive playground” under Mr. Johnson.
“I think he has done a few good things; he seems to be able to bluster his way through, ”Mrs. Lewis said. “He has nine lives.”
Mr. Lewis said that Labor had made strides to re-establish itself with Jewish voters and that he expected Labor to receive more support in Golders Green. But, he added, the British left’s stance on Israel had sometimes spilled into anti-Semitism.
“The Jewish community definitely felt under threat, though I didn’t necessarily feel that way, actually,” they said of the allegations plaguing the party under Mr. Corbyn. “But it felt like the only safe thing was a Tory vote.”