The prospect of seeing a Jewish prime minister in 10 Downing Street – as Britain goes to the polls on May 7th – has failed to catch the imagination of the British Jewish community.
According to a recent poll commissioned by the Jewish Chronicle, 69% of Jews in Britain prefer the Conservative party led by current prime minister David Cameron, compared to just over 22% who favor of the Labor Party, headed by Ed Miliband. This is a sea change in the attitude of Jewish voters towards the Britain’s two main parties, who have historically voted for the Labor Party in overwhelming numbers.
If elected, the 45 year old Labor leader would become the second Jewish prime minister of ‘her majesty’s government’. Following in the footsteps of Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who held the same office more than a century ago.
Disraeli, who was Jewish by birth, baptized himself as an Anglican – a deliberate move, some historian argue, to get public acceptance. The “Jewishness” of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, on the other hand, hardly seems to be an issues in this month’s election. His father Ralph Miliband, who fled to Britain from Belgium in 1940 escaping the Nazis occupation, was a noted sociologist and Marxist author.
Last year, Miliband earned the ire of many in the Jewish community for his vocal criticism of Israel during the Gaza conflict. His subsequent support for a Palestinian state further estranged his relationship with community. To Miliband’s detriment, his main rival and the present Prime Minister David Cameron is seen by many as a strong ally of Israel.
The shift in electoral preference among Jewish voters – numbering roughly 300, 000 – is expected to have only a marginal effect on final outcome.
In recent months, Miliband has tried to improve his standing among Jewish voters, calling himself “a strong friend of Israel, ” and standing against the boycott campaign aimed at Israel.