Amid anti-Semitism scandal, Jewish support for UK’s Labour at historic low

Julie Wiener

Jeremy Corbyn leaving his home in London, April 29, 2016. (Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn leaving his home in London, April 29, 2016. (Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

(JTA) — If there were an election tomorrow, only 8.5 percent of British Jews say they would vote for the Labour Party — a sharp decline since last year’s election, when 18 percent of Jews voted Labour.

A poll by London’s Jewish Chronicle published Wednesday found that 38.5 percent of Jews give the party the worst possible grade on anti-Semitism— 5 out of 5.

The poll was published on the same day three Labour members were suspended over allegations of anti-Semitism. Also Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to renounce Hamas and Hezbollah, Islamic terrorist groups Corbyn one described as “friends.”

The British Telegraph reported Monday that dozens of Labour members have been suspended because of anti-Semitic or racist remarks in the past two months, though only 13 of the suspensions were announced publicly.


Jacqueline Walker, a vice chair of Momentum, the Labour party’s “hard-left activism” group according to the Jewish Chronicle, was the third party member suspended Wednesday, after the paper notified party leaders of her claims that Jews were responsible for an “African holocaust.”

Walker, the Chronicle reported, also has repeatedly said the ongoing allegations of anti-Semitism against party members are part of a “witch-hunt” against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The two other members suspended Wednesday were Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, a city councilman in Newport, South Wales, and Terry Kelly, a councilman in Renfrewshire Council.

In the Jewish Chronicle’s poll of a “representative sample of more than 1,000 British Jews” conducted Tuesday and Wednesday by the Survation firm, two-thirds of respondents said Corbyn — who became party leader last summer — is doing a bad job of addressing anti-Semitism in his party.

The Chronicle’s article did not identify the poll’s margin of error.

The poll also showed a longer-term decline in Jewish support for Labour, with more than two-thirds of respondents saying they had not considered voting for the party since 2005.

Of those who did not vote for Labour last year, but have considered doing so in the past decade, 84 percent said they considered Corbyn’s position as leader an “important” factor when deciding whether to support the party, according to the Chronicle.

Suspended member Walker made her comments about the Holocaust on Facebook in February in response to a comment from a critic. “As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews,” she wrote, according to the Chronicle.

“Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice,” she said.

Her comments were uncovered by the Israel Advocacy Movement.

Walker posted on Facebook again Wednesday, prior to her suspension, saying it was a “lie” to suggest there was a “major problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party.”

“Like everywhere in British society the Labour Party fails, and fails too often, to be what we would want it to be – a bastion of socialism and internationalism,” she wrote.

“The chief victims of those failures however are not people of Jewish descent, but are the many other representatives of other minorities underrepresented in the structures of the [Labour Party] and discriminated against inside and outside the [Labour Party] economically, culturally and politically in contemporary Britain.”

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