In any political conflict there is a tendency for heat to obscure light. Statistics quoted in a body of text are often not absorbed. So what follows is an attempt to set out the facts graphically and provide some interpretation which shows how they differ from misleading popular perceptions.
- According to Pew Research antisemitism in the UK is very low; both as compared with the median level in Europe and as compared with the national level of Islamophobia and anti Roma sentiment. This does not mean that it is not happening nor that it is not deep rooted in some quarters.
2. Research carried out by MORI on behalf of Jewish Policy Research indicates that strong antisemitic sentiments were very low from the far left right across the political spectrum until you get to the far right; at which point it almost quadruples.
JPR’s central argument – that there is a direct correlation between antisemitic attitudes and hostility to Israel – is undermined by their own survey. This shows that there is indeed a direct correlation between antisemitism and hostility to Israel on the far right – where the figure overlap almost exactly – and almost complete disjunct on the far left – where there is significant hostility to Israel but almost no corresponding level of antisemitism. It would be hard to argue from these figures that the direct correlation between antisemitism on the right and hostility to Israel is not indeed a reflection of overall racism on the right; nor that the lack of such an overlap on the left can reflect anything another than an anti racist position – which defends Jewish and other ethnic minority communities domestically – and extends this to the human rights of Palestinians in Israel.
3. Surveys carried out by the Campaign Against Antisemitism have shown that there is more of a problem with antisemitic attitudes among supporters of the Conservative Party than the Labour Party (Figures as original).
4. This is born out by research from The National Centre for Social Research which shows a very welcome overall decline in racist attitudes overall, that these are less commonplace among Labour supporters than those of other parties and, crucially, that these have declined very sharply since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party. It is worth noting that racism rose across the board after 2001, reflecting the “war on terror” and everything that went with it, and that racist attitudes are almost TWICE as prevalent among supporters of the Conservative Party than they are among Labour supporters.
5. It is also the case that it is the Conservative Party that has links at a European level with dubious Parties and movements that either deny or belittle the holocaust or celebrate the participation of their citizens in the Waffen SS. This was detailed in an article by Jonathan Freedland in 2009 in which he asked “where is the outrage?” An appropriate question.
It is reported on Wikipedia that Jewish organisations quite rightly complained about these links to the Conservative Party in 2018. There have been, however, no marches on Conservative central office, no “enough is enough” placards, no weekly headlines in the Jewish Chronicle targeting them, no declarations of an existential threat. Instead, the greater incidence of antisemitism within the Conservative Party and right generally has been ignored in a single minded focus on making out that Labour has much more of a problem that it does – to the extent that the popular perception is now the inverse of reality.
The figures for Labour are quite revealing when you look at them graphically.
Figure 6. Number of Labour Party members accused of antisemitism as a proportion of the membership.
The ratio of 1:817 (1106 cases out of 550 000) is so small that the number of accused (the thin blue line) barely shows up on the graph.
Moreover, 4 in 10 of those accused turned out not to be Party members in the first place. Of the cases referred by Margaret Hodge, only 20 out of 200 were actually Party members.
Further, of the remainder, more than half had their cases dismissed for lack of evidence. Only 1 in 10 of those accused have either been expelled or resigned. Some of those who have been accused or expelled are Jewish.