More than a third of Conservative voters admit they have a negative view of Muslims, according to a new poll that lays bare the scale of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Britain ahead of Thursday’s general election.
The poll — carried out by ICM last week for the campaign group Avaaz — surveyed 2,011 voters about their views on Muslims and Jews in the UK.
It compared the answers of people who said they voted Conservative and Labour at the 2017 election with the public as a whole, finding that 37% of Tory voters are view Muslims in a negative light, compared to 26% of the electorate as a whole and 16% of Labour supporters.
Conservative voters were also much more likely to say they agreed with the statement that Islam threatens the British way of life — 62% compared to 45% of the general public and 35% of Labour voters.
And 55% of Tory supporters agreed that there should be a reduction in the number of Muslims entering Britain, while 41% of the wider public and 33% of Labour voters backed that statement.
The numbers also paint a grim picture of the level of anti-Semitic attitudes held in the UK.
At 7%, the proportion of both Labour and Conservatives voters who said they have a negative view of Jews as a group was exactly in line with the electorate as a whole.
But 20% of Labour voters agreed with the statement that Jews have a disproportionate influence in politics, compared with 15% of the wider public and 14% of Tory supporters.
And 29% of Labour voters said Jews are more loyal to Israel than Britain. That compares to 24% of Tory voters which is in line with the public as a whole.
The poll came after both Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives faced fierce criticism during the election campaign over how they have handled their respective anti-Semitism and Islamophobia crises.
In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil last month, Corbyn refused to apologise for Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints. Days later, the Labour leader told ITV: “I’m very sorry for what has happened.”
Johnson has also said he is sorry for the “hurt” caused by anti-Muslim sentiment in his party, after several Tory candidates were placed under investigation for comments they have made about Muslims on social media.
The campaign group Avaaz said that the ICM poll showed that Tory voters were more likely than the average voter to hold bigoted views about Muslims, than Labour supporters were to hold anti-Semitic views.
“It may come as a surprise after months of headlines about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but Labour voters are no more likely to think badly of Jews than Conservative voters. Instead, this poll reveals the Conservative base is bubbling with Islamophobic bigotry,” said Avaaz campaign director Bert Wander.