New poll puts Labour well ahead of Tories among Jewish voters

Aftermath of October 7 appears to have made little difference on party preference, according to JPR survey


LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer addresses charities at the Civil Society Summit on January 22, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Labour has established a commanding lead among UK Jews according to a new poll of voting intentions, with support for the Conservatives plummeting to less than half of what it was five years ago.

At 46 per cent, Labour’s share of the prospective Jewish vote is even higher than the national average (42 per cent) - a measure of Sir Keir Starmer’s success in restoring trust in the party among British Jews after support for it fell to an all-time low of 11 per cent in 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn.

The 30 per cent of Jews who still back the Tories is a higher proportion than the party’s national average share (22 per cent).

Jews are more likely to vote Green than the population at large but less likely to vote Reform or Liberal Democrat.

Nearly three out of ten Jews under the age of 30 intend to vote for a party other than Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat.

Religious denomination plays a strong part in voter preference with those who define themselves as Orthodox far more inclined to support the Conservatives than Labour.

The results are based on more than 2,700 respondents surveyed by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research last week.

The sample was more than five times larger than for a Survation poll earlier this month, which put the Tories (42 per cent) nine points ahead of Labour (33 per cent) among Jews. The JPR puts Labour 16 points clear of the Conservatives.

According to JPR, the Greens are the third most popular party among Jews with 10 per cent intending to vote for them (compared with 6 per cent of the UK as a whole); followed by the Liberal Democrats on 8 per cent (11 per cent nationally); Reform, 6 per cent (15 per cent); and 1 per cent, the SNP or Plaid Cymru (3 per cent).

Dr Jonathan Boyd, JPR executive director and co-author of the report on the poll findings with Dr Carli Lessof, commented that British Jews “intend to vote similarly to the UK population as a whole, and clearly favour the Labour Party over the Conservatives on the eve of the 2024 General Election.

“Their views have evolved over the course of the current parliament along similar trajectories to the British electorate as a whole, and their tendency to support the Labour Party has bounced back since the 2019 General Election.”

Nevertheless, he added, “there are significant distinctions among Jews when examined by denomination – the more religiously conservative are much more likely to favour the Conservatives than the more religiously progressive or secular, who favour Labour.”

Dr Boyd said there was “no evidence to demonstrate a significant shift in Jewish people’s political allegiances overall following the October 7 attacks in Israel, the subsequent war in Gaza and rising concerns about antisemitism in Britain. Whilst these issues are of great concern to most British Jews, their influence on Jewish voting behaviour appears to be limited.”

Half of Jewish women surveyed (50 per cent) now favour Labour, compared with 29 per cent Conservative: the figure for Jewish men is 30 per cent Conservative and 40 per cent for Labour.

Among the Strictly Orthodox, the Conservatives enjoy 66 per cent support and Labour just 15 per cent; among mainstream Orthodox, 53 per cent are pro-Conservative and 29 per cent pro-Labour. But the figure is reversed among Progressives (60 per cent Labour, 18 per cent Conservative) and unaffiliated (51 per cent Labour, 14 per cent Conservative).

More than a quarter of unaffiliated Jews plan to vote for a party other than Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat.

While only in one in five of Jews under the age of 30 plan to vote Conservative, even among the over-70s Labour has the edge with 40 per cent support compared to 36 per cent for the Tories.

Data collected by JPR shows the decline in Conservative fortunes within the Jewish community. Asked in 2020 how they had voted in the previous year’s elections, 61 per cent said Conservative - “most likely an all-time high,” commented the JPR report’s co-author Dr Carli Lessof. The Liberal Democrats enjoyed an exceptionally high share of the Jewish vote in 2019.

By November 2022, following the resignations of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss as Prime Minister, support for the Conservatives had plunged to 33 per cent, while Labour’s had climbed to 47 per cent.

The authors say it has been suggested that Jews might have swung back to the Conservatives after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 because some feel the party’s policy is more favourable towards Israel.

But for the time being, they state, “we find no clear evidence of this in the data we have so far explored. Whilst many Jews have been affected deeply by those attacks, and indeed by the subsequent war, overall, there is little to differentiate them from the wider general population of the UK in terms of their voting intentions.”

A further JPR report on the impact of October 7 is in the offing.

The authors observe that failure to take account of denominational distinctions among Jews could skew some data on voting intentions. “One cannot accurately assess Jewish social or political attitudes without very careful consideration of denominational factors,” they stress.

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