BICOM poll finds 38 per cent of public 'believe Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic'

By contrast, just a quarter felt the Labour leader was 'a committed campaigner against racism of all kinds'


A poll that shows 38 per cent of the public believe Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic suggests the Labour leader's supporters do not all believe his defence of party's row over Jew-hate, the head of the research centre behind it has said.

Polling firm Populus asked 2,035 people to choose between contrasting statements on Mr Corbyn, on behalf of Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM).

It found that 38 per cent of people agreed that Mr Corbyn was an antisemite; while a quarter felt he was a “committed campaigner against racism of all kinds, including antisemitism”.

BICOM chief executive James Sorene said the two options reflected the narrative arguments of the Labour leader and those of his critics.

He added that he was “slightly surprised” at the lack of support for Mr Corbyn suggested by the data.

While 19 per cent felt Mr Corbyn has “worked hard to deliver peace between Israel and the Palestinians”, 35 per cent agreed that he “only seems interested in talking to those organisations which have been deemed terrorists by the British Government, the EU and the US State Department”.

Mr Sorene said: “If you have a poll where you ask something about Jeremy Corbyn, there’s a base of his support, which you would expect, potentially, to go up into the 30s.

“I was surprised how low the support for him was in the polls. The fact that he could only muster 25 per cent and 19 per cent shows that even his own loyalists and his own base don’t quite believe his explanations.”

But a Labour source said the decision not to include questions about other party leaders “calls into question the independence of this poll and BICOM’s intentions in commissioning it”.

Mr Sorene and Populus designed the questions in the wake of the summer’s “Wreathgate” controversy, which centred on how Mr Corbyn attended a 2014 wreath-laying ceremony at a Tunisian ceremony, which contained the graves of two Black September terrorists.

Mr Sorene said: “We throw in a topical question each year. It is my experience over the summer with this problem he faced [Wreathgate], and he was explaining it away.

“I wanted to know how many people were buying this argument, or following the argument of his critics. We are a research centre, and I wanted to see it.

“The questions were designed to measure [Mr Corbyn’s] own excuses, versus what people are throwing at him. It’s to force people to choose either one or the other, or to say they don’t know.”

An outside polling expert contacted by the JC suggested that the choice between two statements was not a “particularly effective” tool for looking at the issue, adding that the language used in the survey was “very emotive”.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Jeremy has a long and principled record of solidarity with the Palestinian people and engaging with actors in the conflict to support peace and justice in the Middle East, for a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state. That is the right thing to do.”

A recent JC survey found that 85 per cent of British Jews think the Labour leader is antisemitic. A separate Survation poll of the general public, published in September, found 39 per cent agreed.

The BICOM poll also found that 47 per cent of respondents believed that “hating Israel and questioning its right to exist” is antisemitic. Twenty per cent of people disagreed with the statement.

Israel was also seen as the UK’s third-most important Middle Eastern trading partner, behind Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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