Nearly three quarters of Labour members said that the issue of antisemitism in the Party was “invented or wildly exaggerated by the right-wing media and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn”, according to a new poll by Lord Ashcroft. That number rose to over 90% among members of the pro-Corbyn Momentum group.
Nevertheless, most of those Labour members who held this view also thought that the Party’s leadership “should have done a better job of dealing with the issue.”
According to the report, only about one in five Labour members – and only 6% of those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the second Labour leadership contest in 2016 – agreed that “antisemitism was a real problem in the Labour Party, and that is why it got so much attention.” Conversely, one in four of those who backed Mr Corbyn in 2016 believed that the right-wing media and opponents of Mr Corbyn are to blame for the amount of attention that the antisemitism crisis received.
This view was echoed by members in focus groups, who made comments such as: “The antisemitism stuff was rubbish. There may have been the odd incident, but it was hyped, weaponised. Other parties didn’t get the same scrutiny.” Others noted: “[Mr Corbyn] should have said there’s no room for prejudice in the Labour Party, it’s not what we stand for, we’re going to have a really open, visible investigation and we’ll stamp it out – not do it all behind closed doors.”
Former Labour voters in the focus groups also apparently often raised the subject of antisemitism spontaneously.
The pollster interviewed 10,107 adults in Great Britain online between 14th and 20th January and weighted data to be representative of all adults in Great Britain. 1,073 members of the Labour Party were interviewed online between 10th and 14th January. Focus groups of Labour members and former Labour voters were also held in January.
Joe Glasman, Head of Political and Government Investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “This poll makes for very worrying reading. In indicating that they believe that the issue of Labour antisemitism is ‘invented or wildly exaggerated’, an overwhelming proportion of Labour’s vast membership is effectively accusing British Jews of lying. These Labour members are likely to continue to influence the direction of one of the country’s two major parties and their views about Jews and antisemitism will fester in our politics for a generation. This is Jeremy Corbyn’s legacy.”
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
(Photo credit: Lord Ashcroft Polls)