The Labour Party is almost neck and neck with the Tories when it comes to who is viewed as the ‘nasty party’ of British politics, according to a new ComRes poll for Jewish News.
Theresa May famously told the Conservative conference 16 years ago that some viewed her party as ‘nasty’. And despite the recent Windrush scandal and accusations of a hostile environment towards immigration under the Tories, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is viewed in such terms by 31 percent of Britons compared to 34 percent for the government. 35 percent of the 2,002 adults quizzed ‘don’t know.
The results will come as a blow to Labour as delegates gather in its annual conference in Liverpool and follows a summer dominated by the ongoing antisemitism scandal surrounding the party.
Older people (over 55s) are far more likely to associate the ‘nasty’ tag with Labour than younger respondents (18-34) – 46 percent compared to 18 percent.
ComRes found 48 percent believe Labour was more ‘decent’ under Gordon Brown than it is under Corbyn, twice as many who feel it is more decent now. Overall, young voters are evenly split on which era was more decent – though many would have been under 16 when the former chancellor left office. But Corbyn received firm backing from those who backed Labour at the last election, with nearly half deeming the party more decent under Corbyn compared with just 27 percent under Brown.
On antisemitism, half of respondents claimed the party is not going enough to tackle the scourge the leadership has acknowledged exists in its ranks, including 31 percent of Labour voters. Just 19 percent say enough is being done, an increase of just one percent on March 2017. Nearly half – 45 percent – say Corbyn is unwilling or unable to act decisively against antisemitism.
Andrew Hawkins, chair of ComRes, “There is widespread acknowledgement that British politics has turned nastier; this poll suggests that the Labour Party may be slipping into a quagmire of its own making by failing to persuade voters that it is serious about tackling antisemitism and by losing its reputation for decency.
“That the Tories were seen as ‘the Nasty Party’ for the best part of 25 years gave Labour something of a monopoly on kindness but that advantage seems to be being squandered.”
However, more than five in 10 Labour voters – 55 percent – insist Corbyn is the victim of a smear campaign by political opponents to discredit him over antisemitism.
One in ten of Labour voters said Labour is institutionally racist and 69 percent that it is not. Among all respondents, those figures were 28 and 40 percent – with 32 percent who don’t know. Those aged over 55 are more than twice as likely to brand the party racist as 18-34s.
Following the resignation of Frank Field last month, 25 percent of all those quizzed – including Labour voters – think MPs uncomfortable at Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to tackle antisemitism should resign to avoid damaging their own reputation, while more than 44 percent think they should remain in the party and ‘try to effect change from within if change is needed’. Nearly a third – 31 percent – don’t know.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.
“We are taking action against antisemitism, standing in solidarity with Jewish communities, and rebuilding trust.”
A Labour Party source said: “The Tories are the nasty party. Always were, always will be.”