AN analysis issued today by Migration Watch UK finds that there continues to be strong public concern about the scale of immigration.
The paper assesses a blog by the London School of Economics (LSE) which suggested that negative views of immigration have declined from their peak in 2008. Comparing their graph with that of net migration over the same period, it is clear that the mass immigration triggered by New Labour in 1998 occurred at the same time as there was a sharp increase in negative views.
There was a steep drop in such views from 2010 after the election of a Conservative-led government, and again in 2016 after the EU referendum. It seems very likely, therefore, that the public believed Conservative pledges to reduce immigration levels and concern may have been assuaged.
The subject has since been overshadowed by Brexit and the Covid crisis.
Much, of course, depends on the questions asked. Migration Watch UK’s new paper finds that, when asked about the scale of immigration, clear majorities supported a reduction in ten different polls. This amounts to some 30million adults over half of whom wanted immigration reduced ‘by a lot’. A poll by YouGov last month found that 54 per cent think that immigration has been too high over the past decade. Only 5 per cent thought that it had been too low.
Another YouGov survey, updated a few days ago, found that nearly 61 per cent of the public believe that the government are handling the issue of immigration badly, a figure which has risen by 17 percentage points since March.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, commented:
‘While public opinion may have become less negative about immigration, that could turn round very sharply if the government’s new system were to allow numbers to run out of control again. Indeed, the most negative reaction is likely to be among those who voted for the government for the first time last December.’
The paper can be read here.