As part of a Newsnight debate on immigration the BBC have commissioned a new poll from ORB on the subject. The overall findings are similar to those in the Ipsos MORI poll for the Sun – only 24% of people think the government is handling immigration well, with 72% thinking they are handling it poorly.

A slight plurality of people think that immigration does more help than it does harm to the UK (by 44% to 41%). People are also more positive when asked about their own local area – 37% think immigration has has a positive effect on their community, only 27% think it is has a negative effect. Generally speaking though most people think that immigration has had little or no effect on their local area – 59% think it has either had just a little effect, or not effect at all.

ORB then asked about several potential risks connected with immigration. The idea that immigratrants might pose a threat to public order and safety met with the lowest agreement (36%). On the ideas of immigration posing a threat to employment 52% agreed, 48% agreed that a lack of immigration might damage the economy. The most widespread agreement (62%) was with the idea that immigration might lead to Britain losing its identity.

Looking at the two polls together there seems to be very hostility to immigrants themselves, people didn’t think they were criminals or scroungers (quite the opposite in fact, they think they hard working). Relatively few people think immigration has had much of a negative effect on their own area. Concerns are less specific, and more effect the effect on the country as a whole. On balance people tend to recognise that immigration has a positive effect on the country; they just think there is too much of it. The concerns the polls reveal, about the ability of public services to cope, the pressure on employment opportunities and the change on the character of Britain are all ones related to the sheer amount of immigration into Britain.


32 Responses to “Newsnight immigration poll”

  1. I think those statistics are a pretty good representation of the public mood for better or for worse and should surprise very few.

    The public can see that as far as the economy in general is concerned immigration can only mainly be a positive thing.

    The problem comes when you start to consider that a large amount of the benefits are a one hit wonder. The costs are not easily measurable but the benefits very much are.

    Those that have come here to live have gone straight into rental accommodation, started paying tax, buying food, houses, entertainment, manufactured goods, etc etc, which all increases government revenue. This at virtually no historical cost to this country’s tax payers.

    A large amount of this country’s statistical growth has been imported in more ways then one instead of created by anything else the government or the British people has done recently. So by definition this type of growth is unsustainable and therefore pretty much illusionary in the longer term.

    It seems that the general public are far smarter and far far less racist then the government and the media has ever given them credit for. Good for them.

  2. Isn’t this exactly the type of poll where the numbers will be skewed, because some people are hesitant to say what they really think?

    I am asking a rhetorical question really, because I’m sure my answer is ‘yes’.

  3. Evan Davis on the effects of migration.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/evandavis/

    For those of you who believe the BBC.

    Peter.

  4. Although I agree with the sentiment of Davis’ articule I’m not sure I believe what he is saying about supply (in this case, of labour) creating jobs in itself. Is he trying to tell us that there will as many buses to drive and as many passengers to bus as there are bus drivers available? Surely it is possible for there to be similtainiously an excess of people with a given skill as a result of immigration- the glaring example being junior doctors. According to Mr. Davis logic, the extra supply of people with these skills ought to create more jobs, but I don’t see that happening there….

  5. But you are forgetting the basic facts!, all these immigrants will vote FOR McLabour! and will be more than happy to vote for the EUro and EUSSR CONstitution too!, thats what Mclabour want in England, they dont want English people, thats what its allll about you can be sure of that.

  6. I’d be interested to see what the public’s attitude is to EU or non-EU migration.

    Do they feel that EU migration is good because the workers will, theoretically, return home or go elsewhere in the EU in response to a changing job market? or do they feel it’s bad because it can’t be limited and potentially drives down wages?

    Do they feel non-EU migration is good because it’s more easily limited and the immigrants make a commitment to the UK? or do they think it’s bad because the workers are more likely to stay?

  7. NewsElephant,

    I think equally as interesting would be to look at the class breakdown, to see how different groups here see different groups of immigrants.

    If you were to pick some sample jobs from the categories “A to E” I suspect that peoples attitude may well be different depending on where they are on “A to E”.

    An “A” bank manager might be happy with a “C” Polish plumber but a “C” British plumber might not. Equally an unemployed “D” manual labourer might not like the idea of lots of unskilled “D” Latvians, but be happy about a “A” Pakistani doctor.

    Age differences and regional ones would be interesting as of course would if it could be included ethnic background. It would be interesting to see the views of second generation commonwealth migrants to new EU migrants.

    Another ethnic one that I think would be interesting is to see how the ethnicity of UK residents effects the attitude to the ethnicity of new migrants.

    Do British asians resent the fact that migration to the UK seems a lot easier for an Australian or American than it was for them? ( I am not saying it is, but rather how is it percieved.

    I think a detailed poll that had a large sample (2,000+) would show that there are a whole range of complimentary and contradictory opinions.

    However from the figures Anthony has given us I am extremely glad that the hysteria of the last few weeks seems to not be reflected in the general publics attitude.

    Peter.

  8. New Elephant – I think I promised one of the Colins that I’d dig out a poll on that after the MORI poll, anyway this is the best I can do: a Populus poll from 2006 that asked if people whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I’m more worried about immigrants coming into Britain from Europe, rather than further abroad”. 46% agreed, 49% disagreed.

  9. The POLL highlights that immigration to 72% of people is worrying left in the hands of this government – you’ll probably find that the 24% for the governments handling of immigration were in fact hard line Labour voters & immigrants themselves .

    You only need to look at any high street in Britain to see the changing face of our society – certainly where i live in the North East the ethnic diversity has gone from about 99.9% indigenous population to about 80% in the last 2 years.

    The best place to monitor the actual levels of immigration is to stand in a post office queue – this also gives you an idea of just how many new arrivals are actually working ! I have and it’s very interesting – it’s like a trip around the world without Michael Palin .

    As for being employed in the communities – i would agree that the immigrants from Eastern Europe do work hard and do help the economy & do mix with the local communities / the large groups seen on the streets , aimlessly hanging around street corners seem to be from Africa , Mongolia , European Gypsies to name 3.

    1997 to 2010 will go down in history as the period Britain broke up as a union , broke up as a society & people .

  10. “you’ll probably find that the 24% for the governments handling of immigration were in fact hard line Labour voters & immigrants themselves”

    The tables are there – rather than speculate, look at them!
    The survey didn’t ask about voting intention or party ID, but is broken by which party people think would do the best job on immigration, which probably gives us something of a pointer. Of the people who thought the government was doing a good job on immigration over half were were indeed people who thought Labour had the best policy – 58% – but the rest were a mix of those who favoured the Tories, Lib Dems, and don’t knows and others.

  11. Mike Richardson,

    I have a good friend who runs a PO in Inverness and he gets th same. Every day a stream of people from every corner of the earth…….Sending Money home.

    Peter.

  12. The other interesting cross break is comparing people who think immigration is generally a good thing, and those who think it’s a bad thing.

    Predictably people who think it is a bad thing overwhelmingly think the government are doing a bad job on it – 85% to 12%. However, people who think immigration is a good thing also think the government is doing a bad job, albeit by a smaller margin 57% to 41%.

  13. The public can see that as far as the economy in general is concerned immigration can only mainly be a positive thing. The problem comes when you start to consider that a large amount of the benefits are a one hit wonder.

    I don’t think that’s accurate. 62% thought that immigration might mean Britain was “losing its identity”. That’s a cultural (rather than economic) argument against the current immigration.

  14. As I read Evan Davies he is saying GDP per capita probably remains stable-ie the wealth of individuals by and large remains the same but of course the total size of the economy-and the population grow in tandem.

    This is the conclusion reached by Prof. Blanchflower of BoE earlier this year.

    Since GDP includes Government expenditure however-unless services provided by the State expand with the population, then GDP per capita will fall.

    The other effect of population growth is density of population-ie the balance between occupied space & unoccupied space. Urban & Rural. Built & Wild.

    This never seems to feature in polls-except I suppose in the rather crude @are there too many [email protected] question.

  15. Colin,

    “Since GDP includes Government expenditure however-unless services provided by the State expand with the population, then GDP per capita will fall.”

    Not necessarily,

    If the Populatuion is 100 and the GDP is 100 made up 60/40 private to state and migration raises the population to 110 and GDP to 110, then it’s doesn’t matter if the split is 65/45 or 55/55 it still adds up to 110.

    As to the wild aspect, the UK built environment is less than 15% of the land mass.

    Even if (and it’s unlikely) population gets from 60m to 75m we would, even if we didn’t use land more wisely or increase density, still only need 2% more land and that won’t destroy Britain.

    Nicholas,

    I’ve never really got this”loss of Identity” and “dilute our culture” bit as when you try to pin people down they tend to be able to come up with anything more than people who look or sound different.

    Havin said that, one thing about migrants is that few of them go out on a friday night, get blitzed out their skulls and end up vomitting and peeing in the street, so maybe our “distinctive” culture is under threat…..

    Peter.

  16. Peter

    GDP_-
    60/40 is the same as 65/45 ie a state sector around 40%
    Your other example-55/55 appears to be a country in which population increased by 10% only to see the wealth creating sector decline from 60% to 50% whilst State spending rises from 40% to 50% of GDP.
    This would indeed be a disaster of an immigration policy and an economy moving to central control of the sort that failed in so many socialist countries.
    A much more sensible example is :-
    GDP $60 private sector/$40 State sector.
    Population rises 100 to 110
    Private Sector maintains GDP per capita so + $6
    Revised Private sector GDP=$66 + $40 State sector =$106….So GDP per capita falls unless the State maintains its share & adds $4

    Population Density.

    Your country Scotland has a density of 65 p/sq km.
    My country England has a density of 390-about the same as Netherlands = most densley populated in EU.

    In the last 50 years Englands lowlands have lost :-
    50% of ancient woodland
    95% of Flower rich meadows
    80% of lowland chalk & limestone grassland
    70% of lowland Heath
    45% of Limestone pavement.

    The population density of a country should be the subject of consideration by it’s people as well as its government. You really have begun to persuade me to hope that you will soon be able to concentrate on running your country and leave people south of the Border to think about our
    country.

  17. Colin,

    “A much more sensible example is :-

    GDP $60 private sector/$40 State sector.
    Population rises 100 to 110
    Private Sector maintains GDP per capita so + $6
    Revised Private sector GDP=$66 + $40 State sector =$106….So GDP per capita falls unless the State maintains its share & adds $4”

    It doesn’t sound sensible to me as it implies you can meet the needs of 10% more people with exactly the same public services.

    In addition unless you factor in automatic tax cuts, a 6% rise in private sector will boost state revenue, which if spent would increase the state sector.

    Just for clarity the 65/45, 55/55 example was in no way meant to suggest what could or should happen, I could have used any to numbers that added up to 110 ( 80/30 for tories, 30/80 for trots), the meaning was that whether the balance between them changes isn’t the key factor.

    As the population grows and the economy expands people produce and consume both public and private resources and services, and as such GDP will rise. The idea that only the Private sector will expand in a mixed economy isn’t really tenable.

    There is of course a good argument for maintaining public spending at a time of expansion so that it falls as a share of GDP, as services expanded in line with growth aren’t necessarily needed or sustainable in a recession.

    However, as the current government pretty much got elected on it’s promise to expand spending on education and the NHS, so they can hardly be blamed for doing it.

    As to your statistics on the pressure on Englands lowlands, this gives an insight in to the changing face of British agriculture, in a decade and I am sure it would be even more pronounced if you looked back 50 years.

    http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/quick/agri.asp

    Fewer workers producing more food but it falling as a share of what we eat.

    Yes we have in the last few decades degradated the rural enviroment but it’s not been housing or roads thats done it, it’s been giving the consumer what they want, cheap nice looking food, a third of which we throw away.

    Do blame migration…. blame Tesco.

    Peter.

  18. Havin said that, one thing about migrants is that few of them go out on a friday night, get blitzed out their skulls and end up vomitting and peeing in the street, so maybe our “distinctive” culture is under threat…..

    Ah, the old “British people are lazy/benefit scroungers/scum so let’s get migrants in they’re hard-working/take less benefits/better people” argument.

  19. “Yes we have in the last few decades degradated the rural enviroment but it’s not been housing or roads thats done it, it’s been giving the consumer what they want, cheap nice looking food, a third of which we throw away.

    Dont blame migration…. blame Tesco.”

    Oh boy-absolutely classic-should be inscribed in tablets of stone.

    People nowhere to be seen-not responsible for any of it.

    Absolutely unbelievable.

  20. Peter

    By the way -and for the last time-I don’t ” blame” migrants.

    I blame politicians who refuse to consider controling the one bit of our population growth which is within their power to control-migration.( well non-EU migration anyway!!)

    I particularly blame politicians who pontificate about climate change effect, and pursue policies which will maximise it.

  21. I have watched the above exchanges with astonishment as Peter has dug himself an ever deeper hole with his unique blend of half digested statistics and flip remarks so beloved of all too many SNP politicans with the one notable exception of Alex Salmond.But the last remark….’don’t blame migration blame Tesco’…really takes the biscuit. This is not Nazi Germany or whatever you can actually make a choice as what and where you buy your food or leave your carbon footprint. If the consumer throws away a third of the food they buy that’s not Tesco’s fault-it’s just the failure of the consumer for not exercising personal responsibility and for not controlling his or her greed or planning a proper shopping expedition. It’s so dishonest to lump all the blame on the big corporations or the multi nationals instead of holding up a mirror to oneself. Through my job I spent many years attracting investment to the Highlands and Islands in Peter’s backyard. If for example it were not for the much maligned fish farms then the fragile rural infrastructure of the West coast would -with the decline of deep sea fishing -have collapsed years ago but all the way down the line politicans like Peter and the rest of the ‘Highlands in Aspic’ mob tried to place road blocks in the way. No Colin please please do not leave us to be ruled by these folk- because that would see Scotland turned into an economic basket case.

  22. Surely immigration into the UK shouldn’t increase global carbon emissions per se.

    Whilst you could argue that a higher standard of living in the UK may result in an immigrant emitting more carbon, there isn’t a great deal of difference between say Polish or Czech per capita emissions and British ones.

  23. Whoa people, calm down it’s only a blog for goodness sake.

    I don’t blame Tesco’s as such and as I said in earlier posts about renewables I certainly don’t want to preserve the “Highlands in Aspec”.

    Colins point was that we are over populated and in danger of destroying our enviroment in part because of it, and he then quoted a series of statistics about habitat loss.

    My point, which I thought was clear, was that habitant loss has nothing to do with feeding an extra couple of million and everything to do with the life in Britain has changed in the last two decades as we have become a more affluent consumer society.

    “Blame Tescos” wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but rather as an illustration that the causes of rural change are driven by domestic demand not migration.

    Nicholas,

    I don’t think the British are Lazy or work shy, or that migrants are harder working.

    What I do think is that by and large they are just like us.

    I’ve heard a string of politicans over the last year or two talking about people who come to Britain, have to understand the British traditions, of “hard work, fairness and decency”, and to be honest I find it arrogant and condescsending.

    I haven’t travelled that much abroad but my experience of North America and Continental Europe and of people here from other countries is that by and large they are hard working fair decent people… Just Like us.

    Pointing out the unsavoury parts of our society does no harm when people are suggesting that migrants don’t have the same virtues as “We British”.

    Increased migration is a feature of the 21st century and we should deal with it, and plan better for it, and it’s not a crisis.

    Peter.

  24. Mike Smithson is reporting a new ICM poll: 43(+3)/35(nc)/15(-3)

    Quite a good poll post-Queens Speech. I agree with the analysis that all the publicity this week has been back on the 2 parties and not on the LD Leadership contest. Must be concerning to the LDs that they drop straight back down and to Labour that their big set piece hasn’t brought a bounce, at least in this poll.

    Anthony’s predictor gives 328 seats for the Tories on these figures, the Baxter one says 325, so a wafer-thin absolute majority with either of them.

  25. Philip,

    What paper is it in.

    Peter.

  26. I think it’s the Sunday Express

  27. Cant speak for all immigrants but suspect Poles are more interested in the Polish scene than English elections especially with the ever-controversial Kaczynski brothers. I suspect it would be much more interesting to know who the English in France and Spain will vote for – suspect the Tories may have an edge there. Will immigration affect the Labour marginals in Kent? How do the trade unions feel about temporary workers? What does ‘British jobs for British workers’ mean? Will Turks be pleased about the Labour Party’s apparent support of a Kurdish autonomous region in Turkey? As I was once reminded in London there are no black people but Jamaicans / sierra Leonians / etc all with different views on the world. suspect Labour was very keen when Jamaicans with their left – wing views came to England , less so when white South Africans came after apartheid ended.

  28. I think immigration is the best thing for the UK

  29. Despite the belief by the BNP and some Brits, most of those who reside in the U.K have come from immigrant stock and a good thing too!

  30. 41 percent think immigration does more help than it does harm. I am completely stunned by that survey’s results, that so many people think immigration is a good thing. This survey cannot be genuine? I always assumed it would be more like one percent of the British population would think immigration was good thing. It just shows that you cannot extrapolate from personal experience. At school and at work I have never met anyone who thinks immigrants are a good thing. Oh well, I was wrong.

  31. I also question the results. As a travelling consultant I meet a new audience every week in all parts of the UK. I have me t no-one, yes absolutely no-one…. who believes that immigration has (overall) benefitted the country. However, people FEAR to say so, I thought twice before even writing this. One thing I have found agreement on however is this – people LEAVING the UK are highly qualified / 40% tax / children in private education etc. This is VERY revealing, with quotes such as ‘it no longer looks / feels like my country anymore’. Be warned, this is not an exaggeration, and for those who wil quickly try to see this comment as bigoted… not all of these people are white…wake up and see the reality before it’s too late.

  32. Both STUNNED entries above – i have to agree with you both , i too travel around and meet people from all backgrounds – their views also don’t tally with the POLL results / it does’nt take much working out to see why Labour are losing so much support to parties like the BNP ! The immigrant situation is but one of the reasons Labour are losing support so rapidly amongst their grass roots . The only consolation for Labour is that the majority of the non white immigrants vote Labour . Ken Livingston tried to harness the non white vote in London & smear Boris Johnson as racist – poor show Ken.