Immigration

British social attitudes to immigration and racism revealed

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 10:13 GMT Jump to Comments

The British public were quizzed on their attitudes towards immigration, pride in Britain and racial prejudice.

More than three quarters of the public (77 per cent) wanted to see a reduction in immigration to Britain, and public views on the level of immigration are significantly more negative than in 2011. This year's reading is most comparable with 2008, and so it could be said that the British attitude to immigration has remained broadly consistent over the past decade.

Only a small minority, 4 per cent, said that immigration should be increased and this has remained consistently low since it was first asked 18 years ago.

Asked whether they think immigration is good or bad for Britain’s economy, close to half (47 per cent) of respondents indicated that they believed immigration is bad for the economy.

Interestingly, although there is very low support for increased immigration, close to a third (31 per cent) do see immigration as being good for the economy. In addition, the number of people who selected an answer indicating that immigration is bad for the economy has fallen by five percentage points since 2011.

Comparing whether people believe that immigration is good for the economy with their view on the level of immigration, we can see that more than half of people (54 per cent) who see immigration as good for the economy also want to see immigration reduced. Thus, even people who may ordinarily be in favour of immigration seem to be concerned about current levels.

On national pride, people are less likely to say they are “very proud” to be British than when they were last asked 10 years ago. Less than a third of the public now say they are “very proud” to be British, with less than half saying they are “somewhat proud”.

When asked how proud they were of British institutions, just over half (53 per cent) said they were proud of the Armed Forces, up by 10 per cent on 1995, when just over a third were proud.

When asked about their feelings towards the way democracy works in Britain, 17 per cent of respondents said they were very proud, with just over half (52 per cent) somewhat proud. These are up from both the 1995 and 2003 results, with only 13 per cent and 15 per cent 'very proud' respectively.

When asked to consider if they are racially prejudiced, the oldest age group (55+)  admit they are the most. Conversely, the youngest age group (17-34) admitted they were racially prejudiced the least.

With regards to their party alignments, Conservative supporters were twice as likely to self-report racial prejudice than the Liberal Democrats. 

Penny Young, Chief Executive of NatCen Social Research commented: “The findings are troubling.  Levels of racial prejudice declined steadily throughout the nineties, but have been on the rise again during the first decade of this century. This bucks the trend of a more socially liberal and tolerant Britain. 

"Our local and national leaders need to understand and respond to increased levels of racial prejudice if we are to build strong local communities”.

The British Social Attitudes Survey has been conducted annually since 1983. The 2013 survey consisted of 3,244 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain.

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