Poll: Israel concerns push UK Jewish voters to heavily favor Conservatives

Anthony Weiss

(JTA) — Concerns over Israel loom large as Jewish voters in Britain intend to cast their ballots overwhelmingly for the Conservative Party in the upcoming parliamentary elections, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by The Jewish Chronicle newspaper and released Tuesday, found that Jewish voters intend to support the party of incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron by a margin of 56 percent to 18 percent for Labor, with 12.5 percent undecided and roughly 2 percent each going to the Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party. The margin climbed to 69 percent Conservative to 23 percent Labor when those who refused the survey or were undecided were eliminated from the results.

Some 73 percent of the 566 respondents said that the parties’ attitudes toward Israel were “very important” or “quite important” in influencing their votes. The Israel concerns paid off for the Conservatives, with 61 percent of respondents favoring their policies on Israel and the Middle East, while 8 percent favored the policies of Labor, which in recent months has been sharply critical of Israel’s conduct.

By a wide margin, respondents also saw Cameron as having a better attitude as prime minister to the UK’s Jewish population than Labor leader Ed Miliband — 64 percent to 13 percent — even though Miliband is Jewish.

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Respondents said that in the previous election, in 2010, they favored the Conservative Party by 51 percent to 17 percent, with 7 percent for the Liberal Democrats, who have been a junior partner with the Conservatives in the current coalition government.

A 2014 report by the Christian think tank Theos, using data from the 2010 British Election Survey, found that in the same election, Jews voted 58 percent for Conservatives, 21 percent for Labor and 16 percent for Liberal Democrats, although the authors warned of a small sample size.

The Jewish Chronicle poll released this week was conducted by Survation, a British market research firm. Jews make up approximately 0.5 percent of the British population.