The full tables for the Populus poll for the Searchlight Educational Trust has now been published on their website here

It is a very hefty poll – 5000 online respondents in England (for those intrigued about the questions on whether people saw themselves as English or British – this was a purely English poll) and there are 395 pages of tables. Obviously there is an awful lot of stuff there, and I’m not going to address it all, much better to go and read the full report itself. Amongst other things it includes an analysis that segments the population into clusters based on their attitudes towards immigration – broadly speaking two liberal groups that are to different extents positive about immigration (making up 24% of the population), a more ambiguous group that is concerned about the economic effects of immigration (28% of the population), a traditionally Toryish sort of group concerned about the effect of immigration on national identity (24% of the population) and two groups (10% and 13% respectively) that are firmly opposed to immigration but to differing degrees, with the final group the most hostile, disengaged and open to violence.

Immigration

On immigration itself there were, as usual, broadly negative opinions. 40% thought that on the whole immigration had been good for the country, 60% thought it had been bad. 34% of people would stop all immigration permanently or temporarily. 39% would support only allowed “skilled immigrants who will help the economy”, 22% “only skilled and unskilled immigrations who will help the economy”, 5% think we should allow all types of immigration.

From an economic point of view, 41% agree that the public sector couldn’t cope without immigrants – but this is far outstripped by 73% who agree immigration puts pressure on public services. 34% think they have made it easier to find tradesment. 34% think immigration has made it harder for them personally to get a fair wage for their work. Culturally 49% said having a wide variety of cultures was part of British culture, 51% thought it had undermined British culture. While on balance these figures are negative towards immigration, it’s worth pointing out that these findings are not actually as hostile towards immigration as some other polls.

Religion

Moving on, Populus asked about attitudes towards religion – given that the far-right have increasingly tended to put forward an anti-Muslim message, rather than a race-based one.

Firstly on the general subject of religion, 54% of people described themselves as Christian and about 5% other religions. 35% of people said they were not a member of any religious group. However, only 23% said religion was important to them, with only 11% agreeing strongly. Amongst those who described themselves as Christians, only 33% said religion was important to them, 36% said it was not. As we’ve seen before, people describing themselves as Christian does not necessarily imply they are particularly religious (indeed, other polls have shown many don’t believe in a god!). 68% agreed with the statement that religion should not influence laws and policies in this country. Overall 23% said they thought religion was a force for good in the UK, 42% disagreed.

Muslims

Comparing attitudes to different religious groups, Muslims were seen as both the most different to respondents in terms of customs and habits, and as causing the most problems for the country. 69% of people see Muslims as different, 44% “completely different” – in comparison 28% see Hindus as completely different, 29% Sikhs and 19% Jews. Asking whether different groups create problems in the UK, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians all produced very similar results with about 15% saying they caused problems. Asked the same about Muslims, 52% of people said they caused problems in the UK.

Interestingly, Muslims are also the religious minority people are most aware of coming into contact with – 45% say they come into contact with Muslim people at least weekly, compared to 31% for Hundus, 24% for Sikhs and 24% for Jews.

Populus then asked people to imagine a mosque being built in their local area – 43% said they would support a campaign to block it, 19% would oppose a campaign to block it.

Nationality

50% of English people define themselves primarily as British, compared to 39% who define themselves as primarily English. There is an correlation here between whether people see themselves as British or English, and how they fall into Populus’s segments – the two most liberal segments are most likely to view themselves as British (by 60% to about 25%), the two groups most hostile towards immigration are more likely to view themselves as English (by about 60% to 40%)

Asked what it was that most defined someone as British, the most popular option was essentially self-definition – people who “put bring British/English ahead of belonging to a particular ethnic or religious group”. This was picked first by 34% of respondents, compared to 24% who defined it first as being born here, 18% in terms of citizenship, 7% in paying taxes, 7% by descent and 6% by speaking English. Again, there were interesting patterns looking at Populus’s segmentation – the two most liberal groups tended to take a legalistic view – and were most likely to define Britishness primarily in terms of citizenship, and the least likely to view it in terms of birth or descent. Those most hostile to immigration tended to view where you were born as more important than citizenship, and were most likely to consider where someone’s parents were born in defining Britishness.

Given the length of the survey there were questions on other subjects to – most notably community involvement – but I’ll leave you to explore it yourself.


115 Responses to “Populus on immigration and English national identity”

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  1. RAF

    Yes. I agree.

  2. @ BT

    “There was a terrible case before the court 2 days ago where, if I understood the report correctly, 2 judges ruled that a married couple were unfit to adopt as they wished for holding the view that homosexuality is sinful (as anyone who truly believes the bible believes) – note FOR HOLDING THE VIEW, not for illtreating or intimidating a homosexual – something which this kind of caring people would not do. Holding a view on this subject does NOT constitute hatred. (After all, God hates the sin but loves the sinner; He also “sends his rain on just and unjust”.)

    Free speech is [legally] dead for Christians it seems.

    Still, rant over – and no doubt my comment will be considered a lot more unacceptable amongst the intellectuals on this site than yours was, I am sure!”

    Um, I wouldn’t call that a horrible case. I haven’t read it but from what I’ve read, it sounds properly decided. Sometimes you can’t help avoid the awful parents you’re born to but the government can avoid placing children with foster parents who are unfit. Those potential parents were unfit. Holding views that are hateful are hateful and people are entitled to those views but they are not entitled to enforce their views on society or on helpless and vulnerable foster children. What if that woman gets a foster child who is gay? That would cause an incredible harm to that child.

    Also, I wouldn’t say that free speech rights are dead for Christians. At least not everywhere. Why just today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision protecting the free speech rights of Christians:

    h ttp://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/02/scotus.westboro.church/index.html?hpt=C1

    And you know something, while I think it’s distasteful to say the least to protest at funerals (especially military funerals) with anti-gay epiteths, I think the Supreme Court got this one completely right.

  3. @ Neil A

    “Didn’t I read a report about a poll recently about social attitudes where 100% of the Muslim-identifying respondents answered “No” to the question about whether a homosexual lifestyle was acceptable?

    I’d be interested to read cases of Muslim foster parents and what they answered to the questions in their interview about teaching children in their care about the validity of homosexual relationships.

    (I say all this as someone who is only vaguely theistic and doesn’t consider homosexuality in any way immoral or unacceptable, but is slightly anxious about the prospect of a large chunk of the decent foster parents in the country being disqualified – it’s not like we have an abundance of volunteers).”

    A couple of things.

    1. Muslim parents with the same attitudes should be disqualified. So should atheist and agnostic parents. The law applies equally to all, it’s not based upon cultural vagaries.

    2. If foster parents hold those kinds of views, they’re not going to make decent parents.

  4. @ Colin

    Yes, I know. I didn’t think putting a smiley face after it was appropriate though.

  5. @Socialliberal
    ‘Those potential parents were unfit. Holding views that are hateful are hateful and people are entitled to those views but they are not entitled to enforce their views on society’.

    But Stonewall is?

    Freedom of speech has gone and it looks like freedom of thought & of belief have too. 1984 in 2011. You will believe what we tell you to believe.

    Are there really Tories with views this far left? I just find it hard to believe.

  6. @ Robert Newark

    I think SocialLiberal has previously made it clear that he chose the blue background because as a U.S. citizen that is the colour of his preferred party (the Democrats).

    I agree with everything SocialLiberal says about this, and I would also like to concur with what an earlier respondent said, namely that for Christians to claim they are persecuted is fanciful given the daily diet of anti-Muslim hysteria which is churned out by the press.

    I’m afraid BT does not do his/her argument any favours by banging on about political correctness, either.

    Christians persecuted? Remind me, how many thousands of taxpayer-funded Christian denominational schools are there – all of which indoctrinate their pupils with their fairy tale religious theories?

    In comparison, there are very few publicly-funded Islamic, Jewish of Sikh schools (and I believe only one – or is it now two Hindu Schools?).

    Christians in Britain enjoy far, far too many privileges to seriously claim to be a persecuted group.

  7. It seems that there is “Christian” and “As Long As You’re Not Gay I’m Christian”.

    Where children are concerned a line has to be drawn, and the judge has drawn it in between these two.

    Seems just to me.

  8. I’ve done a nice Democrat donkey background for SoCal, but I couldn’t get it to work the other day. I’ll have another go when I get some spare time to kill!

  9. @ Anthony Wells

    “I’ve done a nice Democrat donkey background for SoCal, but I couldn’t get it to work the other day. I’ll have another go when I get some spare time to kill!”

    Awww, thanks. Very kind of you. :)

  10. @ Robert Newark

    “Freedom of speech has gone and it looks like freedom of thought & of belief have too. 1984 in 2011. You will believe what we tell you to believe.”

    It’s admittedly a difficult question. People have the rights of free speech, free association, and free worship. When the government moves to restrict individuals on the basis of the exercise of those rights, the government is moving into a sphere that normally they can’t enter into.

    But here the government has both compelling and substantial counterinterests requiring them to intervene in this manner. In the case of foster children, the government is in the unique position of having to act as a parent for children who do not otherwise have them (in those instances, subject to some obvious restrictions, parents have fundamental rights to raise their children as they see fit). These children are usually incredibly vulnerable and in need of extra care. The government is seeking to find foster parents who will provide the best possible care to these children and the government has a preference for loving, stable homes where children will not be subject to abuse. Abuse of foster children by foster parents has been a reccuring problem for these agencies. And that abuse can be physical, psychological, and emotional. What can make it particularly tough is when children are removed from their biological parents because of abuse only to be placed into a foster home that is newly abusive. The government here isn’t simply entering into transactions with people but they are looking out for and protecting the best interests of the child.

    So then, what might constitute abuse? Well take the instance of a KKK member who likes to go out into the middle of the forest with his buddies, dress up in white sheets, light small fires, and have singalongs about the superiority of the white man. Does the KKK member have the right to free speech that protects this activity? Yes, he does. But should he be allowed to take in foster children who are black? The government has a right, if not a duty, to protect children (who typically cannot help themselves and are even more vulnerable) from foster parents who would abuse them.

    So in this situation, should someone be prohibited from being a foster parent because of their homophobic views? Yes. If that person takes in a kid who is LGBT, that kid will be subject to all kinds of abuse from someone who is nominally a stranger. Now, it may seem harsh that a person is prohibited altogether from being a foster parent because of this. But the government has limited budgetary resources and time constraints. They cannot check to see which foster parents can’t be matched with certain foster children (and in the case of sexual orientation, it’s not always so easy to know). So I think that this decision is correctly decided.

    So does this mean that we’re living in 1984? No. We’re living in a far better day and age when the government realizes the high potential for abuse that will occur if you put an LGBT child in a home with a hatefilled parent who believes in views that either denigrate the child and/or deny the child’s fundamental identity and personhood. That puts a child in a horrendous position and it’s not one that anyone should ever knowingly put a child into. Especially not a foster child who is exceptionally vulnerable.

  11. @ Robin Hood

    “I agree with everything SocialLiberal says about this”

    Thanks. :)

  12. @ SocialLiberal

    Do you mind me asking which state you live in?

    If AW is going to devise a “Democrat Donkey” signal, I think I might have it for my background too. :-)

    I went over to the states in the fall of 1988 to campaign for Michael Dukakis. The Democrats I met were a fantastic bunch.

    However, when I was over there (only for the final eight days of the election) I just campaigned in New York (city), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and Connecticut (Stamford) because these were among the few states that were not already solid for Bush.

    I was put up in Manhatten by my then boss’s son and daughter-in-law. (He was the American-born pollster Robert Worcester, who I believe is now a naturalised British citizen).

    Seems hard to believe now, but New Jersey – where Bob was registered to vote – was a lost cause for the Democrats (Bush Senior carried it 56%/43%). The geographical realignment in American politics had not fully taken place at that point, and there were still significant areas of Republican strength in the industrial north east: Bush carried the region 51%:49% (73 to 56 EVs).

    Even as I type these words, my 22-year-old “Dukakis/Bentsen” button is visible on my notice board. Happy days!

  13. @ Robin Hood

    “Do you mind me asking which state you live in?”

    Not at all. I live in California though the past few years, I’ve also been living in D.C. too (I’m getting my JD and god knows where I’ll be next year).

    “I went over to the states in the fall of 1988 to campaign for Michael Dukakis. The Democrats I met were a fantastic bunch.

    However, when I was over there (only for the final eight days of the election) I just campaigned in New York (city), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and Connecticut (Stamford) because these were among the few states that were not already solid for Bush.”

    Thank you for volunteering for the good guys. I can’t imagine it was easy since Dukakis was going to lose and there were probably some people who viewed you with a suspicion because you were foreign. But your campaigning in NYC was worthwhile. If you look at a 1988 map of New York State, almost the entire state is in red for Bush. You would have thought Dukakis lost the state until you notice the four little specks of blue in the bottom corner of the map, representing the counties representing the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens in New York City. From that, Dukakis was able to carry the state by 4%.

    I’ve met some fantastic Labour folks as well. On election night 2008, I met three very nice young Brits at a packed restaurant bar who I think were about my age (I had done 14 hours straight of volunteer campaign work that day and I was keeping myself awaken on pure adrenaline while watching the returns come in). They were either from Manchester or Birmingham and were staunch Labourites. They were cheering on Obama.

    After the presidential election result was projected, they began getting very apprehensive and wanted to know if the result would still be the same in the morning. One of them was offering to bet me money that the results would be different (and in favor of McCain) in the morning. I could have made some money but I declined and reassured him that Obama had indeed won and his margin would only expand as more votes were counted.

    I know a Brit (who’s a very nice guy) who worked for both Hillary and Obama who’s a Labour activist. I also have a friend who’s from England (though she’s lived in the U.S. for the past 15 years she’s still an English citizen though) and she is a Labourite too.

  14. @Robin Hood

    “Seems hard to believe now, but New Jersey – where Bob was registered to vote – was a lost cause for the Democrats (Bush Senior carried it 56%/43%). The geographical realignment in American politics had not fully taken place at that point, and there were still significant areas of Republican strength in the industrial north east: Bush carried the region 51%:49% (73 to 56 EVs).

    Even as I type these words, my 22-year-old “Dukakis/Bentsen” button is visible on my notice board. Happy days!”

    I was too young to remember the Dukakis campaign (though that might be a good thing) but I am aware of the political history. If you look at California, until the arrival of Bill Clinton in 1992, it had voted Republican at the presidential level 6 straight times and 9 times out of the previous 10 elections.

    Bill Clinton was transformative politically in that he managed to appeal to middle class and upper middle class suburbanites of large cities who were staunchly Republicans. He managed to win in counties that were once bastions of Republicanism. And he has kept these voters as swing voters. In terms of New Jersey, the state has a huge suburban population and they switched just like suburban voters across the country did on Election Day 1992.

    Tony Blair was able to imitate Bill Clinton with great success by appealing to the once staunchly Tory middle class and upper class suburbanites and turning them into voters who would consider Labour. What remains to be seen is whether that shift will remain permanent. Think about how many once safe Tory seats in 1997 unexpectedly were gained by Labour. They were the seats populated by the suburban middle class voters. There are a number of these constituencies that went to Labour in 1997 and surprisingly stayed with Labour in 2010 or if they went back to the Tories were narrow contests and may be future permanent marginals.

    As for political buttons, I’m kinda surprised you keep a Dukakis/Bentsen button. I have started to save political buttons myself but I generally don’t keep them around for losing campaigns (I make an exception for Hillary though).

  15. @Billy

    “It’s just a shame that we don’t know which country sold Gadaffi his weapons so that we could administer a proper punishment.”

    Not 100% complete, but very comprehensive, is the SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Arms Transfers Database, available online. Go to http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/page/values.php , choose Imports to Libya, period 1970-2009 (to get all of Gadeffi’s imports, and recipient/supplier (to have exports by country) and hit download.

    You can do this for almost any troublespot.

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