The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year offers a rare opportunity to examine how our society has changed and also to understand what has remained constant. British Future’s Jubilee Britain report looks at the state of the nation in 2022 – at the issues that most concern us and our attitudes to them.
New Focaldata research finds a nation increasingly at ease with its diversity, where around three-quarters now feel that our society’s mix of cultures and backgrounds is a part of British culture, rather than a threat to it – a major shift from 2011, when more than half the public said that this undermined British culture.
Some 84% of the public today would be comfortable with an ethnic minority Prime Minister as the next occupant of 10 Downing Street, with only a prejudiced 10% feeling this would be a negative development.
Yet the picture on race in Britain is still mixed. Less than half of those surveyed feel that relations between different ethnic groups have improved over the last ten years. And while a third of ethnic minority Britons think we will make progress on combating racism in the decade to come, a quarter fear that things may get worse.
On immigration, the research finds a marked shift in attitudes: immigration still matters, but fewer people see it as negative for Britain, and those who would like numbers to be reduced are now in a minority.
In a year filled with cultural and sporting events, most of the public (51%) feel it is the Jubilee that could most help to bring people together. A majority also thinks the royals can play a role in bridging divides between people from different backgrounds.
But the monarchy has work to do in order to stay relevant in modern Britain. While six in ten people in Britain (58%) still want to keep the monarchy, versus a quarter who would prefer a republic to follow the queen’s reign, there is much weaker support in Scotland (45%) and among young people and ethnic minorities.
British Future was founded 10 years ago in 2012, as the nation came together to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and looked ahead to the London Olympics. Since then we have developed a uniquely detailed understanding of public attitudes on issues of identity and migration, integration and race.
Much has happened in an incredibly volatile decade since the last Jubilee – with major referendums on Scotland and Brexit, followed by the Covid pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. But how much have we changed as a society? Jubilee Britain explores what the public thinks about the key issues facing Britain in 2022 and casts ahead to the challenges we may face in the future – and how we can navigate them together.
A companion publication marking British Future’s 10th birthday, ‘Finding common ground‘, sets out our current programme of work and vision for the future we share.