It's Ken again: Livingstone says 'richer' Jews vote Tory

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has repeated his claim that Jewish voters support the Conservative Party because they are wealthier than in the past.

On BBC’s Newsnight programme on Monday Mr Livingstone said Jews were now “richer” than 50 years ago and had shifted from backing Labour.

Discussing a report from think-tank Policy Exchange on the role of ethnic minorities in politics, he said: “The defining issue is not your colour or your religion, it’s your level of income. People vote according to their income.

“Fifty years ago the Roman Catholic community, the Irish community in Britain, the Jewish community, were solidly Labour.

“As the Jewish community got richer it moved over to voting for Mrs Thatcher, as they did in Finchley.”

Adrian Cohen, chair of the London Jewish Forum, said: “It's pretty obvious that politicians shouldn't write off parts of the electorate based on crude assumptions about their perceived relative affluence.

“Many Jews are not rich, indeed many struggle to make ends meet. In any event there are many factors which influence how a person chooses to vote and one shouldn't refer to Jewish Londoners as if they were homogeneous.”

Former Labour MP Mr Livingstone was widely criticised when he made a similar point about Jewish voters ahead of the 2012 mayoral election in the capital.

At that time a group of prominent Jewish Labour supporters wrote to leader Ed Miliband to express their concern about Mr Livingstone’s candidacy.

Last updated: 1:07pm, May 7 2014