LONDON, September 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
- 76% support non-EU migration limit; 34% think government has set one
- 60% think immigration has been bad for Britain
- 79% support 'Go Home' ad vans; only 17% think they will work
- Most do not think Tory majority would mean tougher immigration policy
More than three quarters of voters support the idea of an annual limit on immigration from outside the EU, but only one third think the government has introduced such a limit, according to new research from Lord Ashcroft.
Lord Ashcroft's poll of more than 20,000 voters, together with a discussion event involving 85 members of the public recruited to represent a range of opinion, is the biggest study on attitudes to immigration ever undertaken in Britain.
The study includes the following findings:
- While a majority supports each of the government's important policies on immigration, most do not know they have been introduced. 76% support an annual limit on non-EU migration; 34% think it has been imposed. 70% support a minimum earning threshold for anyone wishing to bring a spouse from outside Europe; 25% think one has been set. 81% support a minimum probationary period to deter sham marriages; 25% think one is in place.
- 60% say immigration has produced more disadvantages than advantages for Britain. 23% say they are about even, and 17% say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Immigrants "claiming benefits and using public services when they have contributed nothing in return" and "increasing pressure on schools and hospitals" are the biggest concerns. "Doing jobs that need doing but British people don't want to do" and being "prepared to work harder for lower pay than British workers" are regarded as the main advantages.
- 36% say they or someone in their family have found it harder to find work or are paid less because of competition from migrant workers. 24% say they or their family have been denied access to housing or other public services because immigrants seem to have been given priority.
- 83% say they or someone in their family have been treated in the NHS by staff originally from overseas. 13% say they or their family have employed immigrants to do cleaning or building jobs at home.
- 79% say they supported the government's 'Go Home Or Face Arrest' ad vans and only 18% thought they were racist - but only 17% thought the initiative would succeed in persuading illegal immigrants to leave the UK. Only 37% think people in the UK really have a high chance of being arrested and deported.
- 31% say the Conservatives have the best approach to immigration, followed by UKIP (24%) and Labour (23%). 43% say Britain would have a tougher immigration policy under a Conservative government with an overall majority; 48% say the policy would be much the same as it is today.
Analysis of the poll findings revealed seven 'segments' of opinion towards immigration in Britain:
'Universal Hostility' (16% of the population) who are critical of all aspects of immigration; likely to be working class, middle aged, and with low levels of formal education.
'Cultural Concerns' (16%), largely older owner-occupiers, particularly concerned about pressure on public services and cultural changes to their local area or in society.
'Competing for Jobs' (14%) often acknowledge that immigrants work hard in low paid jobs, but are worried about competition in the labour market and downward pressure on wages.
'Fighting for Entitlements' (12%) are mainly concerned about immigrants competing for public services and benefits, which they think they often receive at the expense of established residents.
'Comfortable Pragmatists' (22%) are largely graduates and professionals and show little concern about immigration as an issue, thinking immigration has enriched society as well as putting pressure on public services.
'Urban Harmony' (9%) are young, ethnically diverse and largely city-based. They are more positive than most about immigration and less supportive of measures to restrict immigration.
'Militantly Multicultural' (10%) are dominated by graduates and professionals, with a large public sector contingent. They are overwhelmingly positive about nearly every aspect of immigration; most say migrants have made their area a better place to live.
In the introduction to his report, Small Island: Public Opinion And The Politics Of Immigration, Lord Ashcroft writes:
"Whatever people's view of immigration itself, few think any recent government has had any real grasp of it, or that any of the parties does today: politicians underestimated the size of the challenge, lost control of the situation, refused for too long to acknowledge that any problems might result and are now struggling but failing to cope. Most do not feel there is any strategy for dealing either with the number of migrants, for their successful integration into British society, or for managing the effects they see or fear in terms of housing, infrastructure, jobs, the NHS, schools, or the benefits system."
Commenting on the range of opinion towards immigration revealed in the research, he observed:
"Public opinion on immigration is more varied, and certainly more nuanced, than is sometimes supposed. At the same time, while those who take the most favourable view often regard opponents as backward-looking and fearful of change, those who are most concerned think supporters of immigration are insulated from its more challenging consequences."
Noting that most people were not aware of the measures the government had introduced to control immigration, he said:
"Of course, most of these things take place well out of sight of most voters. Reducing net migration is not something that will be achieved before their eyes. More to the point, the people whose communities have changed will not see them change back, and those competing for jobs will still to have to do so.
"In the end, migration is inseparable from global economic conditions; governments appear as powerless to manage the first as to deal with the consequences of the second."
Notes to Editors
- 20,062 adults were interviewed online between 17 and 29 May 2013. In addition, 2,006 adults were interviewed between 2 and 4 August 2013. Results have been weighted to be representative of all adults in Great Britain. A day-long deliberative discussion event was held in London on 11 July 2013 involving 85 members of the public recruited to represent a range of opinion on the subject of immigration. Full data tables are available at LordAshcroftPolls.com.
- Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, author and philanthropist. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of Crimestoppers, a member of the Board of the Imperial War Museum and a Trustee of the Imperial War Museum Foundation, Chairman of the Trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy, Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and Treasurer of the International Democrat Union. From 2005 to 2010 he was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
- His political books and research papers include Smell The Coffee (2005), Minority Verdict, What Future For Labour?, What Future For The Liberal Democrats? (2010), Crime, Punishment & The People, Project Blueprint, The Leadership Factor (2011), Degrees of Separation, The Armed Forces & Society, Blue Collar Tories, Project Red Alert, They're Thinking What We're Thinking: Understanding The UKIP Temptation (2012), What Are The Liberal Democrats For?, Marginal Territory, and Are You Serious? Boris, The Tories And The Voters (2013).
- Full details of Lord Ashcroft's polling and commentary can be found at LordAshcroftPolls.com, where you can sign up for news alerts. You can also follow him on Twitter: @LordAshcroft.