Twenty per cent of British voters agree with BNP

Twenty per cent of British voters agree with BNP 19 May 2009 New evidence has revealed that the extreme right in Britain is only realising a fraction of its electoral potential. Dr Rob Ford from The University of Manchester found widespread support for radical BNP proposals such as the re-imposition of the death penalty, a total halt to migration and large expansions in police powers.

However the BNP continues to face serious obstacles in realising their potential because, according to Dr Ford, of a severe image problem.

The research will be published in a book this September called The New Extremism in the 21 Century Britain.

One of the book’s editors, Dr Matt Goodwin also from The University of Manchester will publish the results of the largest ever survey of people who are prepared to vote BNP in a second chapter.

The results show a marked difference in far right support when compared to the heyday of the National Front in the 1970s.

Also according to Dr Goodwin’s research, ethnic competition for social housing does not increase support for the extreme right.

Dr Ford said: “The data shows that many Britons are in favour of the sort of draconian measures regularly proposed by the BNP, such as a complete halt to migration, the denial of benefits to migrants and even repatriation of settled migrants.

“It suggests the BNP could appeal to an electorate far larger than it currently wins over – perhaps as many as 15-20 per cent of voters.”

Though the potential is high, the BNP is still some way from a serious electoral breakthrough says the researcher based at the University’s School of Social Sciences.

While BNP support has risen sharply since 1997, even in their best ever performance of 2005 they received only 0.7 per cent of the total vote.

“Most British voters hold very negative views about the BNP, and one recent survey suggested that British voters become more reluctant to endorse a policy when they become aware of a BNP connection,” he said.

“The BNP therefore faces serious obstacles in mobilising support even from those who agree with its arguments.”

Dr Ford added: “The salience of immigration has since 2006 been at or near the highest levels ever recorded by MORI since it began tracking public political priorities in 1974.

“Voters are also not impressed with the solutions offered by the main political parties in these areas and are losing faith in their general ability to respond to and resolve the problems they care about.

 “Party identification, membership and activism are at their lowest levels for decades, and voter volatility is at a post-WWII high, all of which mean the British electoral market is more open to new entrants than it has been in modern history.”

Dr Goodwin said: “It is often suggested that younger voters are more likely to register support for challenger parties such as those on the extreme right.

“However, this is not the case in our British sample. Instead we find that support for the extreme right in Britain is concentrated among older respondents.

“In an earlier study, support for the NF was found to be concentrated primarily in London and the West Midlands, areas that both historic strongholds of the extreme right.

“But in our more recent example, support has moved divisively northwards – they are now much less popular in London and other regions in the south.”

He added: “In our sample we find that like in the 1970s, support for the extreme right continues to be concentrated heavily among the working-class.

“However, the strongest support now arrives from those at the bottom of the economic ladder, namely unskilled manual workers and the residual class of those who are dependent on state benefits.”

Dr Ford drew upon a range of survey data collected in the last few years, by academic survey organisations such as the National Centre for Social Research and by commercial polling organisations such as IPSOS-MORI and YouGov.

The New Extremism in 21 Century Britain, edited by Professor Roger Eatwell from the University of Bath and DR Matthew Goodwin from The University of Manchester will be published by Routledge in September.

Data was gathered for the survey analysed by Dr Goodwin between 2002 and 2006. Face to face interviews were conducted as part of the Ipsos MoRI twice monthly omnibus survey which is based on a nationally representative quota sample. IN total, 190,882 adults aged 15 or over were interviewed. From this sample, 1,001 said they either had voted or intended to vote for the far right.

For further details please consult the University of Manchester website.


Deepening tolerance makes British Obama ‘possible’ says Putnam

The UK has the necessary preconditions for the emergence of a black prime minister according to a joint study by Harvard University and The University of Manchester. The project, to be published in book later this year co-authored by writer Tom Clark, is led by Harvard’s Professor Robert Putnam, the author of the best-selling Bowling Alone which charted the collapse of community life in America. Professor Putnam is also Visiting Professor at The University of Manchester. It casts new light on controversial comments by head of equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips last November, who doubted that the political machinery of the UK would allow a British Obama to breakthrough. The “deepening tide of tolerance” emerges in survey data covering over 50 years – it tracks attitudes on both sides of the Atlantic towards mixed race marriage, working for a black boss and black and ethnic minority participation in politics. The findings show that racial prejudice in Britain and America has been declining during that period – chiefly thanks to the greater tolerance of younger generations. They are released in the run up to the second G-20 leaders’ summit on financial markets and the world economy – hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and attended by President Obama himself. “Despite the continuing racial divides in America, we have seen how a slow and deepening tide of tolerance has made possible the election of a black President,” said Professor Putnam. “At the same time, we have seen how a generation of black politicians in America – that goes well beyond Barack Obama – has emerged, and is starting to seize the opportunities this change presents. “It is fair to say that the minimal representation of non-whites in the House of Commons is surely a significant bar to the arrival of a British Obama. “But is it fundamental? The most obvious question for Britons is whether the Obama phenomenon could happen in the UK.” Despite some caveats – especially the small though growing black British political class – the answer, according to the researchers is a resounding “yes”. “The good news is that in terms of the underlying attitudes of the majority, Britain is in the same place as the United States,” said Professor Ed Fieldhouse Executive Director of The University of Manchester’s Institute for Social Change at the School of Social Sciences and a co-author. “Whether it is willingness to work for a black boss or to welcome a non-white person into the family, majority British opinion – just like majority American opinion – is gradually getting more tolerant. “Change is taking a similar form on both sides of the Atlantic: exactly as in the US, the generation of Britons uncomfortable with non-whites in positions of power or intimacy is gradually dying off, and being replaced by its more tolerant offspring,” added Professor Putnam, who was named by the Guardian in 2005 as one of the world’s top 100 intellectuals. “It is fair to add, however, that the smaller minority population in the UK, as well as the much shallower pool of black politicians and the more centralized political recruitment paths, still tends to work against black representation in Britain.” According to the researchers, President Obama was elected in the wake of a sustained rise in the number of black elected officials that can be traced back over several decades. And in more recent years, there has been an especially sharp rise in number of African American politicians serving non black areas. So increasing numbers of white Americans are now used to being represented by black people. In the UK, by contrast, there are no records of numbers of non-white councillors until comparatively recently. But the signs are that their total number has roughly doubled from the very low level of the 80s before stagnating more recently. The UK is thus still without a black political class on anything like the American scale. But its recent failure to grow have less to do with racial prejudice than the fading fortunes of Labour. Non-whites are six times better represented among that party’s councillors than among than the Conservatives, and the pattern in all recent local elections has been for Labour to lose seats. Notes for editors Robert Putnam is Peter & Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Visiting Professor at The University of Manchester. In 2000, he received worldwide acclaim for his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, about the decrease in civic engagement in America and the benefits of “social capital” or social networks to both individuals and communities. Tom Clark is Leader Writer for the Guardian. The work has been the subject of heated discussion among politicians and commentators — including Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama and Bertie Ahern. For more information on Professor Putnam’s research on civic engagement, visit the website of the Saguaro Seminar which he runs at Graphs available include: Growth at the grassroots: black elected officials in the US and minority ethnic councillors in England. The growing proportion of African American state legislators who represent non-minority districts. Attitudes to mixed race marriages. The study draws on collaborative research by a distinguished team from Harvard and Manchester Universities, carried out under the auspices of SCHMI – Social Change: A Harvard – Manchester Initiative. The researchers are conducting a series of US – UK comparative studies on topics such as immigration, social inequality, religion and the changing workplace. They are investigating what drives social change, how it relates to the wellbeing and the implications for policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic. The comparative academic papers, which provided much of the raw material for Putnam’s book are being made available at a new website – – which goes live today. For UK media enquires contact: Mike Addelman Media Relations Officer Faculty of Humanities The University of Manchester 0161 275 0790 07717 881 567 For US media inquiries contact: Louise Kennedy Converse Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America Harvard Kennedy School 617 495 1402

‘Myths’ threaten racial harmony, say population experts

Using previously unpublished evidence, Professor Ludi Simpson and Dr Nissa Finney from The University of Manchester show how repeated falsehoods about immigration, integration and segregation are misguiding policy and promoting racial disharmony.

This is the basis of the authors’ new book ‘Sleepwalking to segregation? Challenging myths about race and migration’ published today by The Policy Press.

After years of investigation, the Manchester pair have found no evidence “whatsoever” for the existence of race ghettos in the UK. In fact the opposite is true with increasing ethnic mixing.

And claims by head of equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips that Britain is “sleepwalking” into racial and religious segregation are also dismissed in the book.

According to the academics’ review of evidence, white flight is no greater than brown or black flight. And there is white movement into minority concentrations in Leicester, Bradford, Lambeth, Wolverhampton, Wyncombe, Manchester and Merton.

By linking social problems to segregated areas, they say, politicians have stigmatised the areas and their residents.

The authors also provide evidence that areas with large populations of Muslims do not act as a ‘breeding ground’ for terrorism.

“By propagating myths using bogus and alarmist interpretations of population change, individuals such as Trevor Phillips, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester and Sir Andrew Green, Chair of Migration Watch are inadvertently promoting racial segregation,” said Professor Simpson.

“Misunderstanding breeds mistrust and division between ethnic and religious groups. This book is about dispelling those myths. The truth is that Britain’s so-called ghettos are diverse areas both ethnically and socially where no one ethnic group dominates.”

Dr Finney added: “The only concentrations which resemble anything like ghettos are of white people. The average white person lives in an area which has more than 94% white people in it.

“British Pakistanis, for example, live in areas which on average have 26% Pakistani residents. In almost every city with a sizeable immigrant settlement area, children of immigrants have on balance moved away from those areas not to them or between them. So it is wrong to argue there is retreat. Rather, we are witnessing dispersal.”

Economy down, racism up.

With the UK economy facing it’s most difficult challenge in living memory, competition for jobs and other resources is rising rapidly. This competition is said to be the cause of a concerning increase in racist incidents in the Scottish Highlands.

The Northern Constabulary have seen a drastic increase in such incidents between 2005 to 2008, most occurring in Inverness. Groups targeted include English, Poles, Africans, Iraqis and Peruvians.

An online reporting mechanism is being developed by the local police in order to make it easier for victims to report racist crimes.

Only in America?

Barack Obama goes into the US Presidential Election on November 4th 2008 ahead of his Republican opponent John McCain in the polls. Although polls can often be misleading there is a strong possibility that history will be made in the next several days as the US elects its first Black President.

The question being asked on this side of the Atlantic is why in recent history have there been no serious Black contenders for the position of British Prime Minister, or leader of any other western European nation? Is racism still so rife in Europe that the possibility of a Black leader is generations away?

In a week that has seen Barack Obama take his campaign to new heights, in Europe some Spanish Formula One fans intensified their racist campaign of hatred against Lewis Hamilton, in the hope that he’ll lose the Brazilian Grand Prix, and in Dorset a race row has exploded over a village shop that continues to sell golliwogs.

‘I am a slave!’

‘I am a slave’ was the headline gracing the Manchester Evening News sports page on Friday 11th July 2008. The headline related to the ongoing saga of whether the Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo is to remain at the club or transfer to pastures new. Ronaldo was apparently agreeing with statements made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter who claimed ‘In football there’s too much modern slavery’.

Although such statements are often born out of frustration and ignorance, equating millonaire footballers with those that have suffered from, and those still bound by, slavery is disturbing.

Should those who make such statements be brought to task, or is it simply a case of political correctness gone mad?

Manchester Museum & Black Health Agency

During the summer of 2007 the Black Health Agency organised a number of debates with support from Manchester Museum curatorial staff, at both the Windrush and Zion centres respectively, about the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and their effect on the Black community in Manchester today.

The product of these debates was a series of photographs taken across the city to highlight the continuing impact of these legacies, but more importantly how the Black community can, and has, succeeded in spite of such adversity.

These photographs, one at a time, will be displayed throughout the next several months in the Myths About Race exhibtion for visitors to view and share their comments. The first of the photographs is now on display.