Third of voters may not vote for Labour because of alleged anti-Semitism, poll suggests

Ben Kentish
Ken Livingstone is facing disciplinary charges after claiming Adolf Hitler supported Zionism: Getty

Allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour are putting more than a third of British voters off supporting the party, a new poll suggests.

The survey, conducted by ComRes on behalf of the Jewish News newspaper, found 34 per cent of voters said reports of anti-Jewish sentiment made them “think twice” about voting Labour.

That figure rises to 50 per cent among current Conservative voters, 43 per cent for Liberal Democrats and 34 per cent among Ukip backers. Fourteen per cent of Labour voters say they are deterred from supporting the party because of alleged anti-Semitism within its ranks.

The finding comes as an internal Labour disciplinary hearing begins looking into allegations that Ken Livingstone made comments “grossly detrimental to the Labour Party” after he suggested Adolf Hitler supported Zionism.

Mr Livingstone has been suspended by Labour since making the comments last April. He has consistently stood by his remarks, claiming he was simply stating historical facts.

In his defence submission ahead of the hearing, he claimed he was being targeted by “supporters of Israel” who were attempting to “silence” his criticism of the Jewish state’s “aggression”, and called the disciplinary hearing “absurd”.

According to the ComRes poll, 29 per cent of voters believe the former London mayor should be expelled from the party, while 20 per cent disagree.

Justin Cohen, news editor of Jewish News, said: "The fact that a majority of voters with a view on Ken's fate - including a quarter of those still prepared to vote Labour - say he should be expelled speaks directly to the charge he faces of making comments detrimental to the Labour Party.

"Every time he opens his mouth he seems to bring the party and the leader he professes to care so much about into further disrepute. It's time the party severed ties with this serial offender if it cares at all about its relationship with the Jewish community and about upholding its own rules.

"Ken Livingstone may be able to wheel out five Jews to defend him, but this doesn't deflect from the alienation that many in the Kewish community, including lifelong-Labour voters, currently feel about the party."

Of those surveyed by ComRes, 28 per cent think the Labour Party has “a particular problem” with anti-Semitism, compared to 22 per cent who say it does not.

Fewer than one in five voters (18 per cent) think Labour is currently “doing enough” to tackle anti-Semitism within the party.

And in a blow to Jeremy Corbyn, more voters felt the party had a stronger “sense of common decency” under former leader Tony Blair than under the current leadership.

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn told The Independent: "Jeremy and the Labour Party have consistently spoken out against all forms of anti-Semitism and condemn all forms of anti-Semitism, which is why we set up the Chakrabarti inquiry into anti-Semitism and the Party is implementing its findings."

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