Katy Balls

How deep does Labour’s anti-Semitism problem go?

How deep does Labour's anti-Semitism problem go?
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Since Keir Starmer's election as Labour leader, he has been criticised for failing to take strong positions on a variety of topics. However, the issue where Starmer tends to talk the toughest is anti-Semitism. The Labour leader has promised to root out anti-Semites from the party and when the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that Labour was 'responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination', Starmer described it as a 'day of shame'. He went on to suspend Jeremy Corbyn over his response to the report and in the process sparked a civil war. 

However, new polling for the Jewish Chronicle suggests that Starmer could have a tougher job on his hands than he and his team first thought. A YouGov poll of more than 1,000 Labour members points to trouble ahead for the Labour leader, one year on from Starmer's promise to purge the 'poison' of anti-Semitism from the party. 

Seventy per cent said that Labour doesn't have an anti-Semitism problem — while 46 per cent agreed that the scale of the allegations were 'exaggerated'. Meanwhile, 24 per cent of those surveyed said the party did not have a serious problem at all. As for Corbyn, an overwhelming 72 per cent of those surveyed said he should not be expelled from the party. The poll also points to unhappiness with Starmer's leadership — just under a third of those surveyed said Starmer was doing a worse job than Corbyn. 

Given that Starmer is under pressure to do more on anti-Semitism, the poll points to how these efforts could prove difficult. Starmer has said he will not tolerate Labour figures playing down the problem. But rather than simply a number of rogue individuals, that viewpoint appears to be much more widespread. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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