En undersøkelse viser at et flertall anser den historisk høye innvandringen som Storbritannias største problem. En av tre mener at spenninger mellom innvandrere og innfødte er hovedårsaken til splittelse i det britiske samfunnet, mens godt over halvparten rangerer den som en av tre hovedårsaker:
Immigration is regarded by the public as the biggest issue facing British society, a major new survey taking stock of the state of the country reveals.
One in three people believes tension between immigrants and people born in the UK is the major cause of division, while well over half regard it as one of the top three causes.
Over the past two decades, both immigration and emigration have increased to historically high levels, with those entering the country exceeding those leaving by more than 100,000 in every year since 1998.
Yet the survey in a report by the thinktank British Future, entitled «State of the Nation: Where is Bittersweet Britain Heading?», also suggests the country is, at heart, tolerant of those who come to its shores.
Respect for the law, for the freedom of speech of others, and an ability to speak English were seen as the three most essential traits of a Briton, according to the survey of 2,515 people aged between 16 and 75. These were the top criteria across all ages and social classes.
While one in four thinks being born here is important to being British, two-thirds of people believe the welfare state should be open to those born abroad who have contributed to society and play by the rules.
Lederen for tenketanken bak undersøkelsen, British Future, Sunder Katwala sier at undersøkelsen belyser nasjonens bekymring for innvandringen; en bekymring han mener det er nødvendig for nasjonale politikere å adressere.
Undersøkelsen viser imidlertid at det er mindre bekymring lokalt enn nasjonalt. Mens 30 prosent av de spurte oppgir innvandring som mest splittende og spenningsskapende for det britiske samfunnet som helhet, mener bare 19 prosent at det samme er tilfelle for deres eget lokalmiljø.
There was also very little correlation between the geographical distribution of immigrants and the levels of concern. Immigration was regarded as the most divisive issue for 19% of people in north-east England and 20% in Wales – where the 2011 census shows one in 20 people were born abroad – and for 20% of Londoners, where immigrants make up one in three of the population.
Katwala said: «People are obviously very anxious about immigration. But I was struck by how much higher it was as a national rather than a local tension. That to me suggests that managing local tensions is obviously very important, but it is probably not the answer entirely because people have this national-level concern.
«I think it would be wrong to say that local concerns are real and national concerns are just driven by the media, but I think what is going on there is people asking: does the system work? And I don’t think anyone has any confidence as how it is managed as a system. Also there is a concern around national cohesion, identity and ability to cope with the scale of change.»
The Guardian: Immigration is British society’s biggest problem, shows survey of public
Poll for thinktank reveals one in three believes immigration is the most important cause of division