Socialist Worker

Survey shows we have to fight for our anti-racist ideas

Issue No. 2622

A majority of people have positive attitudes towards migration

A majority of people have positive attitudes towards migration (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Despite the racist onslaught from the politicians and the press, a majority of people think immigration has had an overall positive impact on Britain.

A new survey asked people to rate the impact of immigration on a scale of one to ten—with ten as the most positive. The average score nationwide was 5.7.

The findings from the National Conversation on Immigration survey are based on polling and “citizens’ panels” in 60 cities and towns across Britain and Northern Ireland.

The survey still shows that racism is a deep seated problem.

Some of its findings showed the impact of the Tories’ racist assault, which has been directed at Muslims in particular. Some 40 percent agreed that, “Having a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures has undermined British culture.”

It also confirmed a longer term shift in people’s attitudes towards migrants.

People have become more tolerant to migrants since the early 2000s—but views about certain migrants have hardened.

So 57 percent believed that the “government should have different targets for higher skilled and lower skilled migrant workers”.

This isn’t surprising. It is exactly the view put forward by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee report on Tuesday.

The findings challenge the middle class, liberal view that paints working class Brexit voters as inevitably racist

The majority of respondents balanced between racist and non-racist ideas. It’s possible to win people away from racist ideas about migrants.

One citizens’ panel participant from Macclesfield in Cheshire said, “I’ve got first-hand experience.Immigrants who come to this country tend to be hard-working.

“On the other hand, you read in the news that they take advantage of the benefit system, the housing system, don’t put in and quite often take out.” People’s views are shaped by the ideas pushed by politicians and the media, and by their own personal experience.

The two can often clash.

Successive polling shows that people who think immigration has a negative impact on Britain as a whole think it has a more positive impact on their local area.

A question in the survey confuses the two asking, “Do you feel that immigration had a positive or negative impact on the UK, including your local community?”

The findings challenge the middle class, liberal view that paints working class Brexit voters as inevitably racist.

One of the highest non-racist scores was in Wolverhampton, a town in the West Midlands that overwhelmingly supported Brexit.

The survey describes the citizens’ panel as “pro-migration and mostly non-graduate”.

What the findings show is the need for an uncompromising defence of all Muslims and migrants. And a mass movement that gives confidence to anti-racists to take on arguments in every area.


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