Poll: Majority of Labour supports BDS

Labour’s conference gave a memorable show of support for Palestine in 2018.

Asa Winstanley

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.”




Socialism? There isn't a trace in Starmer's Labour. It is fully committed to capitalism. It was observed long ago that capitalism will not cede until all the possibilities for reform within it have been exhausted. We are far from that, but the Right exploits the fact to propose the aim is to reform capitalism to keep it in place, while the correct approach is to drive reform so that capitalism is reformed out of existence. Of course Labour members support BDS. Of course they deplore Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Most of the UK population agrees that the Palestinians and Israelis should have equal rights. I doubt that Labour conference delegates will be permitted to wave the Palestinian flag in future though. It won't be banned, but my guess is it will be deemed potentially anti-Semitic, and discouraged. The JC report indicates how foolish Starmer has been: he has picked a fight with his own members and voters in order not to offend people who agree with Netanyahu; ie he has picked a fight with socialists to defend one of the most deeply right-wing politicians on the planet. All those members who have declared their support for BDS have done as much to bring Labour into disrepute as the thousands who have been expelled or suspended for putative anti-Semitism. Perhaps Rayner's lunatic vision is about to come true and tens of thousands will be expelled. Perhaps Labour is about to abolish itself. Perhaps it will re-name itself Likud. Labour rails at Tory sleaze, but what could be sleazier than expelling and suspending thousands on false pretences, refusing to respond to their subject access requests (a breach of law) and permitting the dark bureaucracy at Labour's core to trample party democracy? Labour is worse than an organised hypocrisy, it is an organised corruption. No one who values democracy or social justice can vote for Starmer's party. Yes to Palestinian rights, no to Starmer.


A lot of us have left the party - not because Jeremy was no longer leader, but because Starmer (who we voted for, believing in his 'pledges') proved himself to be the British mouthpiece for Israel.

If we'd been polled the numbers would have been a lot higher.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).