Jewish Labour Voters Returned After Shifting Support, Boosting Stamrer, Experts Tell TML  


Starmer vowed changes to the Labour Party after it faced accusations of antisemitism 


By Kristina Jovanovski/The Media Line 


Members of the UK’s Jewish community have welcomed Keir Starmer as the new prime minister after his Labour Party won the national election in a landslide Thursday night. This victory puts in power a party that has taken a more critical stance on Israel’s offensive in Gaza compared to the previous Conservative government. 


Dr. Jonathan Romain, a social campaigner and rabbi at Maidenhead Synagogue near London, told The Media Line that the results show that Jewish voters who traditionally supported the Labour Party had returned after shifting their support elsewhere. 


“In this election, it’s very clear that… Labour Jewish voters have returned to the fold,” Romain said. “And the hope is that this trust will prove to be justified and that Keir Starmer will deliver in office what he has promised in opposition.” 


The Labour Party won a resounding victory with a large majority of 410 seats out of 650 in the UK Parliament. 


The governing Conservatives will now be the official opposition with 118 seats. 


The party had been plagued by accusations of antisemitism under former leader Jeremy Corbyn. 


A 2020 report by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that claims of antisemitism had not been properly handled. 


As the new Party leader, Starmer apologized to the Jewish community, promising changes, including blocking Corbyn from running as a Labour candidate. 


However, as an independent MP, Corbyn will return to Parliament after winning his constituency in the election, something that Romain said many Jewish voters would be disappointed to see. 


Romain also thought Jewish voters would be relieved to see that the right-wing Reform party would get fewer seats in Parliament than what the exit poll had earlier suggested. 


An exit poll for the major British broadcasters predicted Reform, led by pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage, would get 13 seats but it actually won four seats. 


Romain said that while some may believe that the new government will face more pressure to push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the majority of seats that Labour won means that Starmer will have the freedom to go with the policy he prefers. 


“I think it’s widely recognized that a cease-fire by itself isn’t enough,” Starmer has been reported as saying. 


“Any cease-fire has to be accompanied by some kind of peace treaty.” 


While congratulating the new prime minister, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Sir Ephraim Mirvis highlighted the politically unstable context in which Starmer will be leading the UK. 


“He takes on the mantle of national leadership at a critical time, when our fragile world is threatened by polarisation, extremism and conflict. May he successfully confront these challenges with wisdom and compassion, and may his Government bring the blessings of prosperity, social cohesion, and security to all the citizens of our great country,” Mirvis wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. 


Amnon Aran, professor of international politics of the Middle East at London’s City University, told The Media Line that a Labour government could bring more voices against Israel’s Jewish settlement violence and expansion. 


While he expected the government to argue in favor of a two-state solution, the Labour Party has said it would not follow Spain and Ireland, which both immediately recognized a Palestinian state. 


“I think even in relation to Israel and the Palestinians, there, we might see some change, but I think they will be primarily rhetorical,” Aran said. 


He stated that if a larger war breaks out between Israel and Lebanon, encompassing more of the region, a Labour government may consider not supporting Israel as much as the Conservatives had. 


The Labour Party took a different stance from the Conservatives on the arrest warrant requests issued for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 


While British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party had strongly criticized the arrest warrant requests as “unhelpful,” Labour MP David Lammy, who had headed issues on foreign affairs, said his party recognized the independence of the ICC. 


Aran believed that the new government would change its rhetoric and be more nuanced about this topic compared to the previous Conservative government. 


He said while the Labour Party would have to find a way of taking a position that fell in line with the US, which called the arrest warrant requests “outrageous,” it cannot completely reject the ICC prosecutor’s stance. 


“There is a sizeable number of politicians in the party and, of course, constituents, that could not simply be brushed off, and in that sense, I think Labour would find it more difficult to simply object to an ICC ruling flatly in the way that the Conservatives had done when chief prosecutor [Karim] Khan made his decision public,” Aran said. 


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