Poll finds out some things to make you worry or cheer. Go on, WORRY or CHEER!

It's been a good few weeks for the release of polls about people's attitudes to immigration, with the Transatlantic Trends survey that hit the headlines a few weeks ago was followed by an Ipsos Mori one last week that didn't. Both were very interesting reading for those of us who waste time worrying about how much our media contributes to a hostile environment for immigrants and ethnic minorities, and how much it shifts everything further to the right.

Then, this week, some worrying headlines:

'Searchlight poll finds huge support for far right 'if they gave up violence'' - Guardian
'Immigration poll 'disturbing' say anti-racism campaigners' - Independent
'Half of Britain 'would vote for far-Right parties if they gave up violence' - Daily Mail

The attitudes of the papers to these findings obviously depend on which one you're reading, but my favourite is Leo McKistry's:
What is remarkable about these findings is that the public feels this way after all the years of aggressive, institutionalised propaganda about the joys of cultural diversity and the unalloyed benefits of mass immigration. But then, while the politicians live in their ivory towers, ordinary people can see with their own eyes the disaster brought about by the cultural revolution.
Thisis kind of funny. McKistry works for one of the papers that vociferously oppose immigration to the point of overt racism, and it's one of the worst selling of these papers. Despite this, it still outsells the papers that don't oppose immigration by quite a large margin. And yet we're supposed to believe something about aggressive, institutionalised propaganda? I suspect he's got a machine in the corner that's all booping, wires and flashing lights that spits this stuff out on tickertape. Maybe an intern has scribbled a Hitler fringe and moustache on it in indelible ink and McKistry wastes hours trying to get it off and sighing.

Sorry, I'm buggering about again, and in the midst of such a serious subject. But is it as serious as it sounds?

The full study is now available online, so you can see for yourself. The question that led to the worried/triumphant headlines is this, see what you think:
A new party is going to be set up which says it wants to defend the English, create an English Parliament, control immigration, challenge Islamic extremism, restrict the building of mosques and make it compulsory for all public buildings to fly the St George's Flag or Union Jack. Would you...
and then asks if people would support it. But what does any of that mean? Where does it say 'far right'? Where does it mention ditching violence? What does 'defend the English' mean? What about 'control immigration'? Who wouldn't want to oppose Islamic extremism? How would this party differ from the Conservative party, or even New Labour, except maybe for the English Parliament bit?

18% of people wanted to halt immigration permanently - this is too high for my liking, but comparing this to earlier polls saying 75% or 65% see immigration as a problem kind of puts those into perspective. A further 16% would halt all immigration until the economy improves, which is a bit of a worry but not as much of one. Combine these and you have 67% of people who don't want to stop immigration completely.  (Update: my crap maths originally put that at 77% - thanks to @peerlawther on Twitter for the correction).  That'd be a big problem for your actual far right people, who usually want to reverse it. (Who knows what the EDL thinks. Something about Islams and not surrendering to the KFC, probably).

Now, I might be missing something here, but the only question I can see that refers to violence at all is one connected to a hypothetical situation involving a mosque being built in 'near where you live'. It asks whether respondents would support or oppose a campaign against the hypothetical mosque being built, and this is followed up with:
And regardless of whether you would support or oppose the building of the mosque or the campaign to stop it, if either side became violent or threatened violence, would this make you reconsider your view?
81% of people agreed with:
Yes, I think violence is unacceptable and I wouldn't support anyone who was involved.
I don't get how this links to supporting the far right as long as they're not violent. The question is about people on both sides of the support the mosque argument. Plus, not opposing a campaign against the mosque doesn't necessarily mean you're far right. There are reasons you might not want a new busy building in your area that don't involve hatred of Muslims. Sure, people who do hate Muslims often co-opt these reasons, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

I don't want to poo poo the whole survey here. It does have some quite disturbing things in it. 52% say muslims create problems in the UK (although the question does suffer from the same thing as some newspaper headlines - by 'muslims', does it mean 'some muslims'?) 62% of white people would say overall immigration has been a bad thing for the country. But they're not quite as bad as you might at first think. I was actually quite relieved, after seeing other polls with a high number of people who think immigration is bad to find that such a small number want it stopped forever. Let alone turned back, which is a different kettle of fish entirely.

As Sam Leith said, in yesterday's Standard:
A poll on actual parties of the Right gets conducted, for real, and with a much larger sample size, every time we have an election. The BNP is a far Right party that doesn't use fascist imagery and does its best to dissociate itself from violence - and its share of the vote remains more or less what it has always been: that is, pathetic.
On top of that, what happened to the 'are you thinking what we're thinking' tory campaign of 2005? Bombed like the Luftwaffe. Sure, the English Democrats have a mayor, but he doesn't exactly look brilliant and they tend to do really badly despite having the essential attributes in question.

Still, some things make good headlines, some don't, eh?


Mr Larrington said...

If a stranger walked up to me in the street and asked me whether I'd object to a mosque being built near Larrington Towers I'd probably say "yes". Not because I have a problem with mosques but rather because the five-services-per-weekend Pentecostal church down the road attracts so much traffic that you can't hear yourself shouting abuse at Jonathan Davies during Six Nations matches because of all the car horns and cries of "you faaaaaaackin' caaaaant" coming from disaffected motorists outside.

Also, I am ashamed to admit that I own three books by Leo McKinstry, all three about assorted WW2 aircraft. If I'd know he was such a twat I might have reconsidered my purchasing decisions...

Anonymous said...

That is possibly the most badly worded survey question I have ever seen..

What does it all mean?!