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In 2024, the Jewish vote is remarkably similar to the UK population as a whole

British Jews are influenced by the same political developments, troubled by the same problems, and affected by the same challenges as everyone else in the country

Dr Jonathan Boyd

I recall well the widespread feeling of relief across the Jewish community the morning after the 2019 General Election. For months, even years beforehand, many Jews had been deeply concerned that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn might be given the keys to Downing Street. In the end, only 11 percent of British Jews voted for him, almost certainly the lowest level of Jewish support for the Labour Party in history. By contrast, 61 percent of British Jews voted Conservative.

But it wasn’t just Jews who were relieved. Many others were, too. The Labour Party was trounced in its worst election performance since 1935, so much so that several political commentators suggested at the time that Labour wouldn’t recover for a generation.

British Jews intend to vote for the Labour Party even more than the general population

How things change. Just four-and-a-half years on, following a global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the war in Gaza and Israel, and turmoil in the Conservative Party that saw it go through three Prime Ministers in a single term, the reconstituted Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer is on course for potentially its largest-ever victory. Nationally, about twice as many people are expected to vote for Labour than Conservative – around 40 percent to 20 percent of the whole.

Some have posited that any Jewish tendency to lean toward Labour may have been squashed by the October 7 attacks on the grounds that Conservative Party support for Israel and its record on combating antisemitism feels more solid than Labour’s. There is some evidence for this – our analysis of a November 2023 Survation poll suggests that many Jewish volatile voters – those whose allegiances commonly switch from election to election – flocked from Labour to Conservative at that time.

But if that happened, it appears to have been short-lived. The new Institute for Jewish Policy Research study, based on data gathered in mid-June from responses to our 2024 Jewish Current Affairs Survey, shows Jewish support for Labour at 46 percent and Conservative at 30 percent. Both of these proportions are higher than those found in the general population, but the overall preference of the Jewish population on the eve of the election is crystal clear.

Importantly, these findings also demonstrate that collectively, Jews are remarkably similar to the UK population as a whole. JPR has measured Jewish voting intentions in each year since 2019, and Jewish support levels for both the Conservatives and Labour broadly track national support levels – they rise and fall at the same times. In this respect the Jewish population is a microcosm of the national population – we are influenced by the same political developments, troubled by the same problems, and affected by the same challenges as everyone else. Outwardly, our dominant concerns seem to be about Israel and antisemitism, but inwardly – in our day-to-day lives – we’re focused on the same issues as the rest of British society, such as health care, education and the cost-of-living.

Watch this short video with some of the key findings:

When it comes to voting intentions, Jews in the UK are divided along denominational lines

That said, we should be cautious about making generalisations about Jews. Because when it comes to politics, there is no coherent ‘we.’ We are actually extraordinarily divided along denominational lines; those on the nominally orthodox to haredi side of the spectrum overwhelmingly lean Conservative; those on the progressive and secular side overwhelmingly lean Labour. Not dissimilarly, the synagogue-affiliated Jewish population as a whole is currently predominantly Conservative, but the unaffiliated Jewish population is predominantly Labour.

That, in turn, raises an important question for Jewish community leaders. Who, exactly, should they seek to represent? All 300,000 self-identifying British Jews, including everyone from the Charedim to the most communally marginal and unaffiliated, in which case a majority broadly aligns with Labour at present? Or just the communally engaged and affiliated half, in which case a majority broadly aligns Conservative?

It’s not a simple conundrum. And if, as many leading Jewish Conservatives predict, a Labour government takes steps to recognise Palestine, bans arms sales to Israel, or turns a blind eye to the BDS movement, it could get a whole lot more complicated.

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Dr Jonathan Boyd

Executive Director

Dr Jonathan Boyd

Executive Director

Jonathan has been Executive Director of JPR since 2010, having previously held research and policy positions at the JDC International Centre for Community Development in...

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