Nesten totredjedeler av den britiske befolkningen mener at rase-relasjonene i Storbritannia er så dårlige at de nåværende spenningene sannsynligvis vil resultere i vold. Av 1000 spurte svarer 60 prosent at Storbritannia har for mange innvandrere, og halvparten av de spurte ønsker at innvandrere blir oppmuntret til å forlate landet.
Samtidig har andelen som beskriver seg som fordomsfulle sunket til 20 prosent, fra 24 prosent i 2005.
Lederen for Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Philips, sier at undersøkelsens funn er alarmerende:
Britain’s last serious race riots – when violent clashes erupted between white and Asian youths in northern England – happened seven years ago.
Despite this, the poll, carried out by Mori, found three out of four people thought there was now a great deal or a fair amount of tension between races and nationalities.
And almost two in three feared tension was certain or likely to lead to violence, although it is not clear whether people are imagining full-blown street riots or minor scuffles.
Mr Phillips told BBC News: «What worries me is if that friction starts to catch fire – if people do genuinely believe it’s going to catch fire then we’re in trouble
Den aktuelle undersøkelsen ble bestilt i anledning 40-årsmarkeringen av Enoch Powells beryktede tale om «elver av blod», der han beskrev den innfødte befolkningens følelse av alarm og misnøye med innvandringen.
Speaking of his foreboding, he said: «Like the Roman, I seem to see the river Tiber foaming with blood.»
BBC home editor Mark Easton says Powell’s words, spoken to a small gathering in Birmingham’s Midland hotel, still echo down the decades.
He says the effect of Powell’s speech was in fact to force the issue of immigration off the political agenda, with any politician who ventured to broach the subject risking being accused of playing the race card.
This situation still exists 40 years later, our correspondent says.
Five months ago, a Tory candidate in Birmingham, Nigel Hastilow, was forced to step down by David Cameron for saying Powell was right that uncontrolled immigration would change Britain irrevocably.
Undersøkelsen tyder imidlertid på at store deler av befolkningen deler Powells og Hastilows synspunkter. En fjerdedel av de spurte mener at innvandring betyr at deres lokalmiljø ikke føles som Storbritannia lenger, hvilket er en dobling fra fra 2005. 6 av 10 mener at innvandringen har forårsaket at deler av Storbritannia oppleves som et fremmed land.
When Tory leader Michael Howard suggested communities couldn’t cope with the pace of immigration during the 2005 general election campaign, he was accused of racism.
However, our correspondent says immigration is now back on the political agenda.
He says: «One reason politicians can debate it again, perhaps, is that the latest wave of immigration is different.
«The million Eastern Europeans who’ve come to the UK in the last three or four years are not looking to settle for good. Their motives are economic. And perhaps most importantly they are white.
«Forty years after Enoch Powell, the issues of race and immigration have been separated once more.»
Immigrasjonsminister Liam Byrne sier at regjeringen er fullstendig klar over at innvandring topper listen over hva velgere bryr seg om:
He said: «That is why 2008 sees the biggest shake-up to immigration and border security in 45 years, with a points system like the one in Australia and new rules to make people earn their stay in the UK, including speaking English and abiding by our rules.
«That is what is going to make our immigration system fit for the future.»