Labour antisemitism: the voters’ verdict

13 07 19

Nick Lowles blogs on new polling which underlines the crisis facing Labour over its failure to deal with antisemitism in its ranks.

Labour has suffered yet another week of humiliating headlines, as the party’s failure to deal with antisemitism in its ranks were laid bare by a BBC Panorama programme.

The programme featured stark and gut-wrenching testimony. In a sense, what the programme did was reinforce something we knew: there have been many, many incidents of antisemitism, which have left Jewish members outraged, and fearful. Jewish members have been subjected to antisemitic comments at party meeting, and abuse online. 

Party members who have made clearly antisemitic comments online and offline have been dealt with too slowly, and too leniently. There has been a campaign of denial – where supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have at best sought to downplay sickening racism, and at worst have engaged in antisemitic smears about a supposed conspiracy to ‘weaponise’ antisemitism.

The party’s procedures to deal with this crisis have failed, and the failure to put that right is in itself an insult to the Jewish community.

We commissioned new polling the day after Panorama aired, to try and understand voters’ views. The results have been reported in this weekend’s Observer. Here’s what I think are the key numbers:

  • Voters think the issue is genuine and serious: 42% agreed with that sentiment, while 16% of voters said they thought the issue was being exaggerated to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Amongst Labour voters, just over a third said they thought it was being exaggerated to undermine Corbyn, but 26% of Labour’s own voters agreed the issue is genuine and serious. 
  • A third of all voters now think Labour is an antisemitic party, including 15% of Labour voters. 45% of Labour said that they don’t know if it is an antisemitic party or not. 
  • Only one-fifth of Labour voters say that the party is doing all it can to tackle antisemitism. 49% of all voters say the party should do more to tackle the issue.

We already knew that Labour has a serious issue to tackle. We know because victims of anti-Jewish racism have said so, repeatedly. What we know now is that voters can see this problem too, and they want Labour to do more to tackle it.

(All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,675 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 12th July 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).


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