If the volume of Facebook statuses and tweets hailing Maureen Lipman were anything to go by, her public attack on Labour’s approach gave a voice to the private frustration of many in the community, writes Justin Cohen.
But if proof were needed that her voice isn’t a lone one, it came with this week’s Jewish News General Election poll – the first gauge of Jewish voter intentions since Israel’s military operation in Gaza drew condemnation from Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.
This is not a weighted, scientific poll but the fact that such a large number took part – combined with some striking similarities with previous polling – means the parties would be remiss to ignore this snapshot, particularly with just six months until polling day and with Jewish voters likely to play a key role in several marginal seats.
There can be little doubt that the relationship between Labour and the “Jew in the pew” has deteriorated significantly since Miliband’s triumphant visit to Israel. That nearly a third of people are less likely to support Labour as a direct result of Miliband’s reaction to the IDF will surprise few. But, as ever with statistics, this poll also provides a rare glimmer of hope for those looking hard enough.
The fact that it indicates his party is polling at 19 percent – compared to 15 in 2010 (incidentally at a moment when Labour was headed by a man whose Israel credentials were rarely questioned) – may be viewed by its hierarchy as a cause for both gloom and hope.
But that suggests Labour, while retaining its core support, has hardly won any new backers in opposition.
In particular, as a result of its approach to Israel, it appears that it has failed so far to capitalise on the apparent Lib Dem collapse. Those with a keen political eye will also draw comparisons with recent analysis – conducted ahead of the Israel-Hamas conflict – of results from the British Election Survey.
Although it’s crucial to note that respondents were not on that occasion offered the ‘undecided’ option, only Labour (30 percent to 19 today) and Lib Dems (five to three) show such considerable differences.
For the latter, this poll represents a damning verdict for the party and Nick Clegg, who was initially applauded for making significant steps towards mending long-term strains between his party and Israel’s friends.
People will be left speculating as to how much of this is down to general national disquiet and how much to specific communal concerns.
While the Tories don’t appear to have gained additional support on 2010 despite its leader’s strong defence of Israel, they also haven’t lost any backing as may be expected of a party in power.
Some have said this poll could have quizzed voters on the lack of reaction from Central Office to comments by Sir Alan Duncan and Andrew Bridgen.
After all, there are questions still be answered there. But we make no apologies for focusing on questions around Labour and UKIP more than the other parties – recent events make them the most newsworthy topics to explore.
While UKIP’s support among the community has grown considerably – in common with the wider country – these results show that significant concerns still around it. One thing’s for sure. In the lead-up to what looks set to be a fascinating election, Nigel Farage’s party is right to say they have much to prove.