Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour members who support him have been the target of severe criticism over the last week, on the grounds that left-wing members are more prone to antisemitic opinions and behaviour – and that Corbyn has not done enough to prevent the Labour Party from becoming more antisemitic.
But data commissioned by a leading antisemitism charity suggest that this narrative is not only inaccurate but counter-factual.
Antisemitism is vile. It is to be addressed and fought wherever it exists, including in the Labour Party.
Concerns among Jewish communities about antisemitism are absolutely valid and must not be minimised or dismissed.
But some Labour members believe that those valid concerns have also been misused as a political football over the last week.
Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), as its homepage states, “is a volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law.“. It publishes an ‘antisemitism barometer‘ report, based on polling it commissions from YouGov, the polling company with well-reported Tory connections.
That barometer reflects the state of the UK in terms of attitudes to Jews, as well as the attitudes and concerns of our Jewish citizens – and it has featured on social and some mainstream media this week because of a chart showing the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes among this country’s political parties.
CAA’s 2017 barometer showed that 32% of Labour voters agreed, when asked by YouGov, with at least one antisemitic statement:
YouGov conducted a similar poll at the beginning of 2015, but that report does not show the respective states of antisemitic opinion among supporters of political parties.
YouGov’s 2015 and 2017 political party data pages for the CAA ‘Barometer’
However, YouGov did gather the data, which the SKWAWKBOX obtained from YouGov – and they reveal a fact that will surprise many who have followed media coverage of Labour’s ‘antisemitism problem’ under Jeremy Corbyn.
The surveys covered common antisemitic tropes – beliefs or assumptions that stigmatise Jewish people – and a comparison of the two surveys shows that, contrary to the current narrative that Labour’s left-wing members under Jeremy Corbyn have driven the party to a more antisemitic position, the data in fact show the opposite.
Since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, the party and its supporters have become significantly less antisemitic on every metric used in the survey – as the ‘net’ data summary shows:
The individual results carry even more impact – remember, these are net results of Labour supporters’ agreement with the statements, so the bigger the negative bar, the less antisemitic a result it represents:
Of course, these data do not mean that there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party. Far from it – and any level is too high. Those who call for Labour to improve are perfectly right to do so and Labour’s new General Secretary has the issue at the top of her agenda when she takes over the post next week.
But where the call has become an accusation against Jeremy Corbyn that the party has become more antisemitic under his leadership – that accusation is objectively false and the media narrative around it misleading.
Labour’s membership has also roughly tripled since the 2015 leadership contest – with the party moving significantly to the left as left-leaning members joined in huge numbers. That influx of left-wing views correlates with the significant fall in antisemitic views among the party’s members and voters.
The Labour leader has a lifelong record of fighting against all forms of bigotry. In just two years of his leadership antisemitism in the Labour Party has fallen, as the mostly-left membership has soared.
Data commissioned and accepted by a leading Jewish charity campaigning against antisemitism, from surveys by a Tory-led polling company, demonstrate that far from becoming more antisemitic, Corbyn’s Labour rejects antisemitism at significantly greater levels it did under his predecessor Ed Miliband.
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