The Brent Progress and Labour councillor Sam Stopp recently (13 Aug 2017) ran a Twitter poll that asked,“Why are there so many anti-Semites on the Left?” The available options were: ‘poor education’, ‘weak leadership’, ‘anonymity’ and ‘another reason’.
References to ‘leadership’ and ‘anonymity’ suggest that ‘the Left’ is taken to mean the Labour Party; including its (anonymous) members on social media.
Cllr Stopp’s last poll on antisemitism in the Labour Party (4 Aug 2017), “Is Labour a safe space for Jews?” apparently failed to deliver the desired results, as Stopp wrote a grumpy article on his blog, Labour Vision, bemoaning the fact that a “group of respondents… were seemingly hostile to the basic premise of the question, i.e. that Labour might not be a safe space for Jews”. Stopp included screenshots of many replies to his poll in the article. The final result of this poll showed that a majority (57%) had replied ‘yes’.
Accordingly, this time nothing was left to chance, and the existence of “so many anti-Semites on the Left” was simply presented as an established fact. Cllr Stopp may genuinely believe this to be the case- but the vast majority of Labour members wouldn’t recognise this portrayal of their party, or the wider Left.
Stopp declined to present any corroborating statistics etc. as an introduction to the poll. No doubt this was merely an oversight, and said evidence will be forthcoming; which will indeed be a welcome addition to the debate.
Such information was not readily available to the Commons Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry into antisemitism (16 Oct 2017), as it concluded that,
“Despite significant press and public attention on the Labour Party, and a number of revelations regarding inappropriate social media content, there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.”
Polling or Trolling?
The actual results of this self-selecting poll may not be the sole point of the exercise. On 20 June 2017, Stopp tweeted, “How many of our number would react correctly to the phrase, “I am a Zionist”?” This received three responses; one (its owner now suspended by Twitter) is likely to have been offensive, to which Stopp replied, “There’s the first rabid bite.” It was also the last, as apparently no one else took the bait. What Stopp would consider to be the correct reaction isn’t clear, but Labour Vision articles such as Why All Labour Members Should be Zionists (3 Mar 2017) may give an indication.
What is clear is that Stopp uses any indignant responses to his ridiculous polls as further evidence of a supposed antisemitism problem on the Left, when in reality they show both an awareness and a weariness of his agenda in furthering this smear.
The option ‘weak leadership’ received the most votes, at 39% (of 176 votes). Does this mean anything? Probably not, but judging by some of the previous articles published on Labour Vision, this result should at least please Cllr Stopp.
*UPDATED– The recent publication of Campaign Against Antisemitism’s 2017 Antisemitism Barometer contains information that was previously absent from the debate. It states,
“The YouGov data shows, for example, “that Labour Party supporters are less likely to be antisemitic than other voters“