A representative poll of the British population conducted prior to the general election showed that 39% of respondents believe that Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite and that 47% believe that the Labour Party has an antisemitism problem.
The poll of 12,147 was commissioned from Deltapoll by a Jewish charity and conducted between 29th November and 2nd December 2019. The general election took place on 12th December.
The poll provides insight into how the British population understood and reacted to the accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. An overwhelming majority of the population had seen a lot or at least a little media coverage of antisemitism in recent months, with less than one fifth saying that they had not seen any coverage or were unsure if they had.
Almost a quarter of respondents believed that Mr Corbyn and the Labour Party are antisemitic, with an additional 15% believing that only Mr Corbyn is antisemitic, and 8% believing the Party is but its leader is not. Just over a fifth said that neither is antisemitic. However, almost half (47%) thought that Labour has a problem with antisemitism, with just over a quarter respectively thinking that it did not (26%) or did not know (27%). A clear majority of 59% considered that Mr Corbyn had been incompetent in handling accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Almost half of respondents (46%) believed a different leader of the Party would have handled the antisemitism crisis better.
One tenth of respondents believed that Mr Corbyn is hostile towards Jews, one quarter believed that he has poor judgment as a politician and 23% believed that he does not have prime ministerial qualities. Conversely, 8% said that he was not given a fair chance and 15% believed that the media is hostile towards him. If Mr Corbyn had handled the accusations of antisemitism in Labour better, 28% said that that would have made them more likely to vote Labour, while over half (55%) said that it would not.
Of those respondents who were considering voting Labour and believed that the Party has an antisemitism problem, 34% said that it made them less likely to vote Labour, 29% were prioritising other issues and 15% believed that it was more important to have a Labour government. Only 8% of those likely to vote Labour believed that the antisemitism problem was minor and being handled well.
For those respondents who had voted Labour in 2017 but were, at the time of the poll, uncertain about how they would vote, 16% cited antisemitism as the reason.
As to how the accusations of antisemitism in Labour made them feel, almost a quarter (24%) of respondents said that they were angry that Labour had a leader who could not deal with it properly and 13% said that they felt let down by Labour. As to the media’s role, 16% said that they were “annoyed with the media for over-hyping the story” and 15% said that they were “annoyed with the media for making too much of it”. 16% were also “annoyed with the Conservatives for using it for political reasons”, while 2% even said that the accusations of antisemitism made them “suspicious of Jews”.
A fifth said that they were worried about increasing racism in society and almost a third (31%) said that it made them embarrassed at the state of British politics. Only 15% said that the accusations of antisemitism in Labour had not really impacted them.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.