UK poll shows immigration divides the nation

A poll of British adults has found that the question of immigration arouses strong feelings. The poll was commissioned by the former chairman of the UK's right-of-centre Conservative Party, Lord Ashcroft and carried out by his own polling organisation; Lord Ashcroft Polls.

20,000 people were questioned about their attitudes to immigration and immigrants. The poll found that better educated people tended to be more in favour of immigration but showed that some were implacably opposed.

Lord Ashcroft says that he has identified 'seven segments of opinion' on the subject of immigration. These range from those who oppose any immigration at all to those who favour unlimited access of all foreign nationals to the UK. There are, he says, rather more of the former than of the latter.

Seven 'segments' of opinion

The seven segments identified by Lord Ashcroft were;
  • Universal hostility – This segment comprises people who are mainly 'working class, middle-aged and have low levels of formal education'. The group makes up about 16% of the population. Nearly 90% of this group thought that controlling immigration was 'one of the most important issues facing Britain'
  • Cultural Concerns – Older people often with their own houses. Often worried about the pressure immigration might cause on local services (16% fall into this category)
  • Competing for Jobs – concerned that migrants will displace British workers (14%)
  • Fighting for Entitlements – worried about immigrants claiming benefits (12%)
  • Comfortable pragmatists – Better off people who are concerned about the economy but less so about immigration (22%)
    • Urban harmony – City based people who are ethnically diverse with 'a mixed view' of immigration (9%)
  • Militantly multicultural –10% of those surveyed fell into this category. They tended to be well educated, and/or professionals, often working in the public sector. They see immigration as a benefit which outweighs any negative consequences of immigration (10%)

Younger, better educated people less averse to immigration

Lord Ashcroft's survey seems to show that 60% of British people are opposed to mass immigration. However, it shows that younger and better educated people are less likely to oppose it, which gives some hope for the future. It may be relevant that Lord Ashcroft has previously advocated that the Conservative Party should adopt a 'hard line' stance on immigration.

The survey also showed that 80% of those surveyed were in favour of the government's recent advertising campaign aimed at illegal immigrants in six London boroughs. The adverts, driven on the back of lorries, advised illegal immigrants to 'go home or face arrest'.

Strangely, while 80% claimed to be in favour of the adverts, only 17% thought they would have any effect. Even more strangely, 90% of members of the UK Independence Party who were questioned said that they supported the van campaign and only 14% thought they would have any effect.

(UKIP is a right-wing party which campaigns against the UK's membership of the European Union and against mass immigration, particularly unskilled immigration from Europe).

UK press opposed to immigrants

Sanwar Ali of workpermit.com said 'surveys of this time emerge from time to time. They claim to show that the UK population opposes mass immigration and, of course, some of them do. This is hardly surprising given the attitude of the UK press to immigrants.

'However, some surveys also show that Britons are generally worried about immigration at a national level but have no problem with immigration in their area. They also show that younger Britons, who have grown up in a thriving multicultural country, are happy with the current state of affairs'.

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