A majority of Jewish Labour members find their local branches unwelcoming despite Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to eradicate anti-Semitism in the party, a new study reveals.
A survey of almost 3,000 Labour members, conducted by the Fabian Society, a think tank affiliated to the party, found Jewish members were least likely to find their local party “friendly and welcoming”.
In a report published last week, the society, which recently published a major essay by Sir Keir, said there had been “little progress” since its last survey six years ago.
One Jewish member who stood for local office told researchers: “I was asked questions about my loyalty and affiliations and memberships because I am Jewish. Other candidates were not asked these questions.”
The report, entitled More to Do, says that “across every question” asked of 2,890 Labour members, those in “disadvantaged or under-represented groups” were “more likely to report negative experiences of local parties than members without the same barriers”.
It adds: “Across a number of questions, Jewish members reported the worst experiences.”
‘When it comes to inequality, there has been little progress’
Some two per cent (58) of those surveyed were Jewish. Asked whether they disagreed with the statement that “everyone in the local party is friendly and welcoming”, 65 per cent of the Jewish members surveyed disagreed, compared to 43 per cent of people overall.
More than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual members (53 per cent) and disabled members (51 per cent) disagreed that everyone in their local party was friendly and welcoming. Only 34 per cent of members overall agreed with the statement.
The survey was carried out in August, a month before the Labour conference backed reforms, including a new fully independent complaints process which Sir Keir said “closed the door on anti-Semitism” in the party.
Ben Cooper and Andrew Harrop, the authors of the report, wrote: “This is the second time the Fabian Society has run a comprehensive survey on how active members of the Labour Party feel about their local parties and their experiences of seeking leadership and candidate positions. When it comes to inequality, there has been little progress since the last survey in 2015.”
One individual member reported “quite high levels of anti-Semitism, both macro and micro aggressions”, while another told researchers: “I’m Jewish and a member of JLM [the Jewish Labour Movement]. Many local party members see this as a bad thing… I worry they’d block me from being a candidate for that reason.”
A Labour spokesman said: “Keir’s relentless focus since his election as leader has been on positively changing the Labour Party. Thanks to the significant progress made, we are proving to the public that we understand and are acting on their priorities.
“This progress includes rebuilding our relationship with the Jewish community,and demonstrating wholeheartedly that only Labour is the party of equality and opportunity for our members and the country. We are committed to taking our dedicated membership with us at every step.”