A new ComRes poll for the BBC shows a conflicting picture of British public attitudes to the refugee crisis. Can people be sympathetic to those fleeing war and abuse in Syria, while still being worried about how we handle the numbers? The answer, writes Steve Ballinger, is that they can – and they are.
Tag Archive for refugees
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron made an impassioned defence of liberal values on refugee protection today in his address to the party’s conference in Bournemouth, writes Steve Ballinger, as he drew attention to Britain’s proud tradition of offering protection to those most in need while mounting a stinging criticism of PM David Cameron’s handling of the current refugee crisis.
“I am proud to be British and I am proud of Britain’s values,” Farron told delegates, “So when Mr Cameron turns his back on the needy and turns his back on our neighbours I want the world to know, he does not speak for me, he does not speak for us, he does not speak for Britain.”
It was a strong, impassioned speech, most commentators agreed – one that would play well with the core Lib Dem vote. But would it resonate with the majority, who had turned away from the party in droves? The Guardian’s Rafael Behr suggested that those who might now criticise Farron as being out of touch with mainstream public opinion had failed to grasp his strategy – one of making a strong pitch for the most liberal voters who take pride in being considerably more moderate than most on immigration.
But is a ‘core vote’ strategy, seeking to appeal to only the most liberal voters, good politics? And is it the best way to build public confidence in Britain’s ability to manage the current, high levels of immigration to Britain? Probably not.
Polling by Survation for British Future, published today in “The politics of immigration – the surprising lessons of the 2015 General Election and what they mean for new party leaders” suggests that the Lib Dems are the least likely of all parties to have anything resembling a ‘core vote’. 70% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2015 suggested they might vote for a different party in future, compared with less than half of Labour, Conservative or SNP voters. Only 13% of Lib Dem voters were confident they would not be changing their mind in future.
The party was also less successful than they had hoped in securing support from voters who shared the party’s liberal outlook on questions like Europe and immigration. The Lib Dems won around 12% of those in the pro-migration ‘liberal minority’, not much higher than their 10% share of the ‘anxious middle’ who hold more mixed views on immigration. While it’s not surprising that only 2% of voters with strongly anti-migration views voted Lib Dem, pro-migration voters were twice as likely to vote Conservative, and almost four times as likely to vote Labour, than to support the Lib Dems.
Why didn’t the Lib Dems achieve a better result with the most liberal voters? In 2015, voters who shared the party’s liberal views on identity issues strongly opposed other aspects of their record in government. Age was a particularly important factor here: the party did especially badly with students and first-time voters, polling just…Lib Dem leader Tim Farron made an impassioned defence of liberal values on refugee protection today in his address to the party’s conference in Bournemouth, writes Steve Ballinger, as he drew attention to Britain’s proud tradition of offering protection to those most in need while mounting a stinging criticism of PM David Cameron’s handling of the current
However, speaking as someone whose role of late has been consumed by the migrant crisis in Calais, I have seen first-hand, and been alarmed by, the pervasive ignorance of the situation. The public, it seems, are suffering from something I’ve dubbed ‘Little England Syndrome’.
Don’t get me wrong: until recently I lived in Folkestone, site of the Channel Tunnel entrance, and I’ve been as alarmed as anyone by the ease with which migrants have gained illegal access to the ostensibly secure site. The migrants in Calais have no right to come to the UK; either because they are economic migrants or because, under the Dublin Regulation, those with legitimate asylum claims should have them processed in the first state they reach. For those in Calais this is clearly not the UK (it is less well-known that the majority of refugees entering Britain do so through our airports, often with fake documentation). As such, and in spite of my sympathy for the migrants on a human level, I no more want to see them succeed in their journey than is the prevailing norm.
That said, there seems to be very little appreciation that the bigger picture is one in which the world is struggling with its largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Never mind the catastrophic scale of the tumult afflicting countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq, some of which we share varying degrees of responsibility for; the discourse in certain parts of Britain, fuelled by Daily Express headlines such as “Send in army to halt migrant invasion” and “Ebola threat reaching UK shores” is one of pure, unabashed British self-interest. This focus on how ‘they’ will all be stealing our jobs, houses and hospital beds, while frolicking with taxpayer-funded handouts, means the wider realities, facts and tragedy are often sadly overlooked.
The Daily Express’ Leo Mckinstry wrote recently that Britain “could become like Africa” and denounced those “who trumpet immigration” as colluders in “the destruction of our great nation”. Clearly this is ridiculous hyperbole, but if every migrant seeking asylum or a better life in Europe was destined for Britain perhaps I might share his fears. The thing is though, they aren’t. Just because migrants interviewed in Calais describe reaching the UK as “their dream” doesn’t mean that’s indicative of the broader pan-European experience. The downtrodden inhabitants of ‘the Jungle’ in Calais make up a tiny fragment (between 1 and 2%) of the more than 200,000 illegal immigrants who have landed on Greek and Italian beaches this year alone. In spite of this influx, numbers in Calais have remained stubborn at around 4,000. It is clear then that not everyone who makes it to Europe heads straight to Calais, motivated by a shared desire to benefit from our “generous welfare system” as Nigel Farage and some…It is a curious thing when someone of a centre-right disposition, with similarly right-of-centre views on immigration, has cause to rail against the right-wing press, writes Drew Smith. However, speaking as someone whose role of late has been consumed by the migrant crisis in Calais, I have seen first-hand, and been alarmed by, the pervasive
As events take place across the UK to celebrate Refugee Week, new polling suggests that people value the contribution of migrants, and in particular refugees, with Sigmund Freud being ranked the refugee to have contributed the most to the UK.
The Dragons' Den format fringe on immigration and integration backed a practical as well as theoretical citizenship test, but rejected letting the market decide or introducing a faith-preference for persecuted Christians in the asylum process.
As British Future heads off to one of the first Jubilee street parties of the weekend to celebrate with refugees in Brixton today, we have written to The Times in honour of the Queen's Jubilee to acknowledge the contribution that refugees have made to Britain during the Queen's reign.
Ever since the Home Secretary announced her plan for the new integration strategy in June 2011, we have been waiting for it to materialise with a mixture of excitement and anxiety, says Zrinka Bralo. Excitement because it might be different and better from those preceding it, and anxiety because of recent government announcements about further immigration restrictions. The rumour in the blogosphere is that a draft integration strategy called ‘Creating the Conditions for Integration’ has been circulating in Whitehall since November 2011. At The Forum, the organisation where I work, we are curious to see what’s in store for the future of integration as this is what we do and we need a constructive environment to be able to keep doing it.