Poll: Labour members say anti-Semitism crisis “invented”

13 February 2020 — The Electronic Intifada

Asa Winstanley

A new opinion poll found that 73 percent of Labour members think anti-Semitism in the party is exaggerated.

Almost three quarters of the UK Labour Party’s members agree that the anti-Semitism crisis in the party has been “invented or wildly exaggerated.”

That’s according to a new survey by the influential pollster Michael Ashcroft.

Only 22 percent of members who took part in the poll agreed that “anti-Semitism was a real problem” in the party.

Since Jeremy Corbyn – a left-wing activist who had long been involved with the Palestine solidarity movement – was elected Labour’s leader in 2015, the party has been targeted by a sustained disinformation campaign, smearing Corbyn and party members as anti-Semitic.

Released on Monday, the poll of Labour members shows that 73 percent agreed with the statement that “Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was invented or wildly exaggerated by the right-wing media and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn.”

The figure is even higher – 92 percent – among members of Momentum, the party faction founded to back Corbyn.

The statement, openly expressed, would likely be grounds for expulsion from the party in a rigged disciplinary process.

“Anti-Semitism denial” is now often portrayed by witch hunters as proof of anti-Semitism.

For such people, it would apparently follow that Labour should now expel three quarters of the party’s membership – which would amount to at least 354,000 people.

Miniscule

The figures are a rebuke to Momentum’s boss Jon Lansman, who has claimed Labour has a “widespread problem” with anti-Semitism.

Lansman did not reply to a request for comment.

The poll comes soon after the latest official party figures, released last month, showed that, in total, 2,178 Labour members had faced anti-Semitism allegations since 2017. As Labour has approximately 500,000 members, that amounts to 0.4 percent of the overall membership.

And as The Electronic Intifada’s reporting over the last few years has shown, many, if not almost all, of this tiny number are not even real cases of anti-Semitism.

Only 56 Labour members have been expelled for alleged anti-Semitism, with a further 145 resigning or allowing their membership to lapse during disciplinary proceedings.

Between 2018 and 2019, 1,201 members were suspended, formally investigated or otherwise disciplined for alleged anti-Semitism.

A further 388 complaints were deemed worthy of no further action after an initial assessment.

A note accompanying the Labour data indicates that a coordinated campaign was undertaken to report “anti-Semitism” cases as a way to attack the party’s grassroots, which is largely left-wing.

“A third of all cases in 2019 have the same single individual as the main complainant,” states the document, released by the office of the party’s general secretary, Jennie Formby.

“Labour were divided”

Michael Ashcroft is a Conservative member of the House of Lords, Britain’s unelected upper chamber.

But his polls are closely watched by key players in British politics, and often survey large numbers of people.

The report he released on Monday also included findings from a poll of more than 10,000 voters on the reasons that Labour lost the general election in December.

While a leaked internal Labour document reportedly found that the top reason for the defeat was the controversy over Labour’s position on Britain’s departure from the European Union, Ashcroft’s poll blamed Corbyn above all.

The top reason given by voters polled was that “Jeremy Corbyn was not an appealing leader,” with Brexit coming in second most important.

Among the poll of Labour members, Brexit was the top reason blamed, closely followed by the hostile media. “The media gave an unfairly negative picture of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn,” was the number two reason given by members.

Other figures from the wider poll of voters suggest this was indeed the case.

The figures suggest that, in this election, the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, and the internal party witch hunt, broke through and was a factor swaying the electorate.

“Labour were divided” was the fourth most important reason given by voters as to why the party lost. The anti-Semitism “crisis” was often a source of rancor feeding Labour’s internal divisions.

In joint fifth place were the ideas that the party “no longer really represented its traditional voters” and that “Labour failed to address the controversy over anti-Semitism in the party convincingly.”

But there is ambiguity in the polling data. Those answering that Labour had failed to “address the controversy” does not necessarily mean they agreed the “controversy” was valid.

This is borne out in the poll of Labour members. Of those polled, 45 percent responded that the party leadership “should have done a better job of dealing with it” even while agreeing that anti-Semitism in Labour “was invented or wildly exaggerated.”

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