Some Jews are still voting for Corbyn’s Labour — they explain why

A recent JC poll found only 7 per cent of Jews would vote Labour. Ben Weich asks them why



The breakdown of Jews’ relationship with Labour, seen by many as their historic political home, is such that an October poll for the JC found only seven per cent of Jewish respondents would consider voting for its candidates.

But among that sliver of the community, there is a core of politically-engaged Jews who have remained loyal to Labour, despite their acknowledgement of antisemitism in the party’s ranks.

Opposition to Brexit and the politics of the Conservatives are commonly cited reasons for backing Jeremy Corbyn’s party, as is the affection many have for their MPs.

Jonty Leibowitz, a constituent in Finchley and Golders Green, where many left-leaning Jews are predicted to vote for Luciana Berger, told the JC he will nonetheless vote Labour due to his opposition to the Liberal Democrats.

The 24-year-old think tank researcher said: “I have got huge respect and sympathy for Luciana Berger and how she was treated.

“But she is running as a Lib Dem and I don’t think the Lib Dem manifesto would be good for the country. I don’t think revoking Article 50 would be democratic and I can’t ignore the pain austerity has caused.

“Labour is aware there has been a problem with antisemitism and I think it is beginning to rebuild trust.

“I base my vote not just on the relationship between parties and my community. While I acknowledge antisemitism in Labour, it’s not my only consideration.”

Charlotte Nichols, Labour’s Jewish candidate in Warrington North, argued that the greater threat the community comes from the far right, accusing the Prime Minister of “emboldening” nationalism.

In the wake of the announcement of a December election, a number of left-leaning Jewish political organisations have emerged to counter the narrative that the community has completely abandoned Labour.

Jews Against Boris has begun a crowdfunding campaign, and will campaign in the Prime Minister’s Uxbridge constituency, while Vashti, a “new progressive Jewish media platform” was launched on Sunday.

Journalist Rivkah Brown, an editor of Vashti, told the JC that mainstream coverage of antisemitism in Labour “has shut down, rather than opened up debate”.

She said: “I grew up in Diane Abbott’s constituency and in a proudly Labour family. I vote and have always voted Labour because I share its core commitment to a more just society.

“Yet my support for the Labour Party is not unequivocal. I’ve been deeply hurt by the presence of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and appalled at the abuse Jewish activists and MPs have faced.

“I’ve also been disappointed by the way the party has dealt with antisemitism — in particular the party’s heel-dragging over the expulsion, suspension and resignation of Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson and Ken Livingstone — which haven’t met its anti-racist standards.

“Antisemitism in the Labour Party is a serious problem and requires serious action. That means clearer communication from party leaders; stronger disciplinary procedures; and better engagement with Jewish community groups.

“Yet whatever it does, the Labour Party will never overcome its antisemitism crisis without the support of British Jews who want it to thrive. The Labour Party has lost the trust of many in our community — I want to help them regain it.”

Mike Katz, the Jewish Labour Movement’s national chair, said he sympathised with left-leaning Jews’ “difficult choice”, saying it was “scandalous they are forced into choosing between their progressive beliefs and their anti-racist values”.

He added: “On the one hand, they want to avoid a no-deal Brexit and would prefer a public vote to Remain. Why should they back a mendacious Tory PM who pursues a nasty, divisive agenda against minorities, women and pro-Europeans?

“Against that, of course, they cannot possibly endorse a Labour leader who has utterly failed to deal with the antisemitism raging through his party, which historically has always been a home for Jews. Like JLM, the majority of Jews think he is unfit to lead Labour, let alone our country.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive