Poll: Majority of Labour supports BDS

Labour’s conference gave a memorable show of support for Palestine in 2018 (Asa Winstanley)

Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada  /  April 14, 2021

Most members of the UK’s Labour Party support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and consider Israel to be an apartheid state, a new poll demonstrates.

The recent survey by British firm YouGov indicated that 61 percent of Labour members support the global BDS movement.

Only 8 percent said they oppose BDS.

In the same survey, almost half of those polled agreed with the statement that “Israel is an apartheid state, systematically discriminating against Palestinians.”

In a sample size of 1,073 members, 49 percent of those polled said they agreed, while 35 percent said Israel is not an apartheid state. Only 16 percent said they didn’t know.

Although Palestinians began using the word apartheid to refer to Israel as long ago as the 1960s, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem finally conceded that Israel is an apartheid regime only this year, in January.

The polling shows that despite the best efforts of right-wing Labour leader Keir Starmer to purge the party of the left and of Palestine solidarity activists, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn, Israeli apartheid is still a tough sell in a party which claims the mantle of socialism.

YouGov was commissioned to conduct the poll by anti-Palestinian newspaper The Jewish Chronicle, to mark the first year of Starmer’s leadership.

The paper’s new deputy-editor, Jake Wallis Simons wrote of the poll that: “The bombshell findings today highlight the scale of the challenge facing the new leader, who has a mountain to climb in his bid to purge the party.”

The paper did not run a headline showing that the majority of polled Labour members support BDS. Instead, it buried the finding in an analysis piece by Wallis Simon. The Jewish Chronicle’s coverage focused on Labour’s alleged “problem with anti-Semitism.”

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London