Anti-Semitism row 'could cost Labour hundreds of thousands of votes' - poll

Posted On: 
23rd September 2018

The row over anti-Semitism in Labour could cost the party more than half a million votes at the next general election, according to a new poll.

Labour has been dogged by anti-Semitism rows in recent years.

The YouGov study, commissioned by the Labour Against Anti-Semitism campaign group, found that 32% of potential Labour voters believe the party has a problem with anti-Jewish abuse, with 39% of those saying it would make them much less likely to vote Labour.

That amounts to around 12% of all those who describe themselves as potential Labour voters - or around 500,000 people if extrapolated to a national level.

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Meanwhile, 28% of so-called Labour 'waverers' - those who currently vote Labour but could be tempted to switch allegiance - believe the party has an anti-Semitism problem, with 26% of those people - equivalent to around 300,000 voters - saying they would be much less likely to vote Labour if the problem is not addressed.

Eleven percent of those who describe themselves as solid Labour voters also say they believe the party has a problem with anti-Semitism, with 2% - or around 100,000 - saying it would make them less likely to vote for the party.

The survey of more than 5,000 people is the most comprehensive study so far on views of anti-Semitism in Labour.

The party faced heavy criticism from a string of Jewish community groups over the summer after initially refusing to fully adopt an internationally-agreed definition of anti-Semitism, a move that sparked fury from some of Labour's own MPs.

Labour has since opted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition in full, and last week vowed to beef up its compliance unit to help it better deal with allegations of Jew hatred by party members.

The LAAS/YouGov study also makes grim reading for Jeremy Corbyn, with 58% of all voters saying his handling of the anti-Semitism row has been "competent". Just a fifth (20%) of voters said he had handled the issue competently.

Euan Philipps of Labour Against Anti-Semitism said the poll delivered "a damning judgment on a Labour leader who has lost the moral authority to lead".

He added: "Labour party members must now ask themselves how much they wish to remain loyal to Corbyn, how much they want to risk further tarnishing the party’s already sullied reputation for fighting racism, and how much they want a Labour government.

"Because while Mr Corbyn remains leader the prospect of a Labour government remains increasingly far away."

A Labour spokesperson said the party was "fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations".

They added: "We are taking action against anti-semitism, standing in solidarity with Jewish communities, and rebuilding trust."