Pollsters are generally unloveable creatures but oftentimes they spot trends in public opinion that the rest of us miss. Some of these analysts are now warning that the Conservatives’ poll lead may not be all it seems.
For instance, the current poll of polls has the Tories 11 points ahead of Labour, which sounds like a comfortable advantage. However, at this stage in the 2017 campaign, the polling average put the Tories 18 points ahead — and look how that turned out. The number-crunchers note, too, that the Liberal Democrat vote appears too thinly spread across the country and that Labour support traditionally rallies in the final weeks of an election.
As such, some of the foremost experts on voting behaviour are raising the prospect of an unthinkable outcome: another hung parliament. They are not alone: only 18 per cent of voters polled for yesterday’s Mail on Sunday expect the Conservatives to win a majority.
Since almost none of the smaller parties would back Boris Johnson, talk has inevitably turned to the possibility of a minority Labour government. Over the weekend, Nicola Sturgeon began outlining her demands in exchange for a vote-by-vote support arrangement for a Jeremy Corbyn administration. Predictably, her top negotiating priorities are another referendum on Scexit and more powers for the Scottish Parliament.
The First Minister’s willingness to put Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in power is being treated as another process story. It is no such thing. It is a test of Sturgeon’s character, where she stands and who she stands with. The Labour Party she contemplates crowbarring into 10 Downing Street is no longer the party of Blair and Brown. This Labour Party has been taken over by the far-Left and along the way it has become the largest, most successful vehicle for anti-Semitism in Western Europe.
When Nicola Sturgeon makes an offer to Labour, this is the Labour Party she is prepared to put in power. Former Labour MPs Ian Austin, John Woodcock and Tom Harris have warned of the anti-Semitism that has taken over the party and even urged voters to back the Conservatives instead. Labour’s candidate in Clacton stood down after using the derogatory term ‘Shylock’ in a meeting with Jewish colleague, councillor Zena Brabazon. Gideon Bull maintains he did not call Brabazon the name directly, was unaware of its anti-Semitic meaning and insists it was ‘an honest mistake’.
The party’s candidate in Gordon quit after it emerged she had compared Israel to a child-abuser and said charges of Labour anti-Semitism had been ‘orchestrated by the wealthy establishment who do not want a socialist Labour government’. Kate Ramsden said she could ‘see why many Jewish people have been hurt by my words’ but it ‘was never my intention and I apologise unreservedly’.
It emerged that Zarah Sultana, Corbyn’s candidate for the safe Labour seat of Coventry South, had pledged to ‘celebrate’ the death of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, backed a Palestinian right to ‘violent resistance’ and, at university four years ago, objected to a Jewish student standing for election to a post representing black and ethnic minority undergraduates. Sultana said that her comments were ‘written out of frustration rather than any malice’ and she apologised.
Labour’s shadow international development secretary Dan Carden denied singing ‘Hey Jews’ to the tune of the Beatles hit Hey Jude during a bus trip back from Cheltenham Races last year. He maintained he would ‘never be part of any behaviour that undermines my commitment to fight racism in all its forms’.
Labour’s chief campaigner in Harlow was found to have warned in a blog of ‘a Jewish final solution to the Palestine problem’. When this apparent allusion to the Holocaust was brought to the attention of the party’s Harlow candidate, she reportedly tried to defend her aide. Laura McAlpine later told the Jewish News she ‘did not and would not defend Brett Hawksbee’s remarks in this blog’ and called them ‘unacceptable’.
It is a testament to how comprehensively Labour has been taken over by anti-Jewish cranks that the above list only covers incidents reported in the past week . It does not include the fact that Labour is presently under investigation for anti-Semitism by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, only the second political party after the BNP to be probed in this way. A recent poll for the Jewish Leadership Council found that 47 per cent of British Jews would ‘seriously consider’ leaving the country if Corbyn became Prime Minister.
What on earth is Nicola Sturgeon thinking trying to put these people in power? She may wish to be remembered as the SNP leader who took Scotland out of the UK but she risks going down in history as the woman who gave Britain an anti-Semitic government in living memory of the Holocaust.
One of Sturgeon’s most admirable qualities is her commitment to making minorities feel at home in Scotland. She is often to be found sending well wishes to or even attending in person the festivals of Scotland’s smaller faith groups. She meets regularly with representatives of marginalised communities. She is usually among the first public figures to condemn an incident of racism or bigotry. Small gestures, but important ones, they send the message that Scottishness is not contingent on race or religion; that those who want to belong, belong.
Here is what the First Minister said earlier this year when asked about Jews’ fears of rising anti-Semitism: ‘I want to reassure Scotland’s Jewish communities that there is no place in Scotland for any form of anti-Semitism or religious hatred. We value our Jewish communities. We value the contribution that they make to Scotland, and that is a message that should go out strongly from this chamber… If one member of that community feels unsafe here, all of us have a duty to respond to that and do everything possible to change it. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously.’
No doubt those words were sincerely spoken but good intentions are not enough. If she is ready to put an anti-Semitic party into Downing Street, we are compelled to ask why. Why doesn’t the prospect horrify her as it horrifies British Jews? Why does she preach anti-racism from one corner of her mouth and make overtures to racists from the other? Why does her opposition to prejudice come with a Jewish loophole?
This dalliance with Corbyn Labour carries far more risks than potential rewards. For instance, the closer we get to polling day, the more keenly campaigners who have unearthed thousands of anti-Semitic posts by Labour figures will scrutinise the social media output of SNP activists, aides and elected politicians. The First Minister must feel awfully confident that her party doesn’t have a problem in this area.
Now that Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he will allow a second Scexit referendum if he becomes Prime Minister, pro-Union voters wonder what point there is in voting Labour to stop the SNP when Labour no longer wants to stop the SNP. The same is true of anti-Semitism. Opponents of the tidal wave of hatred sweeping the Labour Party cannot cast a protest vote for the SNP when the SNP is willing to put the anti-Semites into government.
The past 20 years have been defined by the SNP-Labour war for dominance of Scottish politics. The battles have been brutal, the enmities bitter. That both sides are essentially managerial centrist outfits disagreeing solely on the constitution only enhances the mutual loathing. The purpose of tribalism is to make trivial hatred seem respectable.
Yet in this election, Labour and the SNP are, in effect, standing on a joint ticket. Vote Labour and the SNP gets its second referendum; vote SNP and the Hezbollah groupies get the keys to Number 10. After decades of knocking lumps out of each other, Labour and the Nationalists have made a common cause out of putting the country and its Jewish community in peril.
Nicola Sturgeon understands what has happened to Labour and knows that its vendetta against British Jews is repugnant. Still, she raises the possibility of propping up a wretched assemblage of bigots and fanatics.
The prospect of another hung parliament makes most Britons groan but in British Jews its potential to elevate Jeremy Corbyn inspires a special kind of dread. They are being made to feel unwelcome, even afraid, in their own country. As long as she is prepared to put Labour in power, Nicola Sturgeon is complicit.
Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Letters: scotletters [insert @ symbol] dailymail.co.uk.