Voters think Labour is almost as ‘nasty’ as Tories, new poll finds

Public says Labour significantly less 'decent' under Jeremy Corbyn than it was under Gordon Brown

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Saturday 22 September 2018 18:22
Comments
Jeremy Corbyn arrives at Labour party conference in Liverpool

Voters now think Labour is almost as much of a "nasty party" as the Conservatives, a new poll has found.

Almost a third (31 per cent) see Labour as "the nasty party", while 34 per cent say the title still belongs to the Conservatives, according to a ComRes poll for Jewish News.

The survey also found that twice as many voters think Labour is less "decent" under Mr Corbyn than under Gordon Brown than express the opposite view.

It follows months of controversy over antisemitism in Mr Corbyn's Labour Party, and criticism of the party leadership's handling of the issue.

The "nasty party" phrase was famously used by Theresa May, then the Tory chairman, in 2002, when she warned her party it needed to improve its image among voters.

ComRes found that almost half of voters (48 per cent) thought Labour "was a more decent party" under Mr Brown than under the current leadership - twice as many as the 24 per cent who thought it was more decent under Mr Corbyn.

The poll also revealed that just 19 per cent of people think Labour is currently doing enough to tackle antisemitism. 50 per cent said the party was not doing enough, while 32 per cent said they did not know.

The antisemitism row has prompted some Labour figures, including Streatham MP Chuka Umunna, to claim the party is "institutionally racist".

That view is shared by more than one in four voters (28 per cent), according to the ComRes poll, although 40 per cent said they disagreed.

Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes, said: "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.”

Some voters have suggested the row over antisemitism in Labour is an orchestrated "smear" campaign by Mr Corbyn's opponents to discredit him.

28 per cent of voters said they agreed with this assessment, but 45 per cent thought the Labour leader was "either unwilling or unable to act decisively against antisemitism in his party".

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."

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