Daily Israel Report

Anti Immigration Sentiment Soars in Britain

A British poll that shows 48% of voters would consider supporting a far-right party has caused alarm on the left, complacency elsewhere.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 2/28/2011, 8:21 PM / Last Update: 3/1/2011, 1:02 AM

In last year's general election in Britain, both the Conservatives and Labour addressed the issue of immigration and the popular feeling that uncontrolled immigration had caused problems for Britain. However, due to Britain's electoral system, no party with an explicit anti-immigration agenda such as the British National Party or the United Kingdom Independence Party managed to make it into Parliament.

This contrasts with results in Holland and Sweden where the Freedom Party and the Swedish Democrats made major breakthroughs. In France, the National Front polls at 20%.

Now, a poll conducted in Britain for the left-wing Searchlight Educational Trust finds that 48% of voters would consider voting for a party that would tackle immigration and Islamic extremism provided it steered clear of violence and "fascist imagery". 52% said that Muslims cause problems in the United Kingdom.

The poll found that two thirds of white Britons felt that immigration had made a negative contribution. They were joined by 43% of Asian Britons and 17% of black Britons. According to the poll, a strong correlation existed between economic insecurity and hostility to immigration. The results were slightly skewed by older pro-conservative voters whom the pollsters called cultural integrationists. Another interesting result is that more nonwhites than whites favor freezing immigration on till the economic situation improves.

While the full report will only be published  on the web Monday night, it has already been embraced by the British left to attack the government of David Cameron and former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom the left considers a traitor.

David Cameron is attacked for his recent speech denouncing multiculturalism and calling for a muscular liberalism that would spell out more clearly what values are acceptable and what are inacceptable. Critics from the left condemn the Cameron speech for legitimizing the sentiments expressed in the poll. The Left and its journalistic mouthpieces, such as the Guardian and the Daily Mirror, also claim that the government's current austerity policy is causing layoffs and lowering the standard of living. This is increasing economic insecurity and therefore fueling the dangerous attitudes surfacing in the poll.

Tony Blair is attacked for his "New Labour" approach that essentially jettisons politics based on class and therefore made working class Britons feel that they had been abandoned. If politics are not based on class, then the substitute is the identity-based politics expressed by the respondents to the poll.

While the survey was conducted by the well-regarded Populus polling organization, some critics are uneasy about questions that are too vague to permit conclusions. Another obvious criticism is that the poll is self-serving. Searchlight advertises itself as an organization that combats fascism by educational work. Obviously the more alarming the attitude towards immigrants is, the greater the need to fund the organization.