We surveyed 1,725 British adults, and asked whether certain policies would make them more or less likely to support a political party, or whether these policies would make no difference to their choice at the ballot box. For those who may be interested in the methodology of the research, the figures that I am about to report are weighted and representative of all British adults, while the survey itself was undertaken on 19-20 August.Notice how the credentials are pushed up front as being impeccable. When you see this, you know you’re in for some uncomfortable truth!
And what did you find?
…large numbers of voters remain open to the core ideas of the far right. Across Europe, the far right has recruited significant support by offering a combination of populist, anti-immigrant and increasingly anti-Muslim policies.Oh dear! How terrible for you! And as Longrider puts it, how does this qualify as news?
Consider this: 66% of respondents in our survey would be more likely to support a party that promised to stand up to political and business elites; 55% would be more likely to back a party that pledged to prioritise British values over other cultures; 41% would be more likely to support a party that pledged to halt all immigration into the UK; and a striking 37% – or almost two-fifths of our sample – would be more likely to endorse a party that promised to reduce the number of Muslims in British society.That this comes as a surprise to one of the cosseted, protected elites is really not much of a shocker, is it? But what does come as a surprise is how blatant he's prepared to be about a solution...
At first glance, these results may lead mainstream politicians to the conclusion that they would be well-positioned by appealing to these enduring concerns over immigration and diversity. They might also lead the far right to think that its future looks set to be a prosperous one.But there’s cause for the ‘Guardian’ set to take heart!
But … there exists a sharp generational divide in our attitudes toward these issues. Whereas older generations – those who perhaps have less experience with mass immigration, and are less likely to forge relationships with people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds – appear relatively clear and resolute in their desire for a party that adopts a tough, populist stance toward elites, immigration, Muslims and British values, younger Britons are significantly less favourable toward this narrative.Or perhaps younger people are just cowed into displaying the answers they know they are expected to give, whereas older people aren’t so easily swayed by the PC culture?
These findings are supported by research in sociology, which similarly points to a sharp generational decline in support for crude forms of racial prejudice.And there we see concern over the pace of change and the less salubrious ‘benefits’ of mass immigration conflated into ‘racial prejudice’.
The first step is always making your opponent out to be a demon, isn’t it?
It is also worth noting that this process of generational change is a long-term game, and one that may not produce positive effects if mainstream politicians fail to protect young people from the effects of austerity Britain, and convince them that immigration and diversity are compatible with their own prosperity.‘Save the children and they’ll save us progressives!’
But when seen at a broad level, the challenge is to avoid a short-term and knee-jerk response to the older, angrier and more hostile generations, and think about how best to support the "rise of the tolerants", and channel these more accepting generations into the political process.Which really means ‘We’ll ignore you oldies, but we aren’t going to wait for you to just die off, we’ll get more youngsters into politics instead!’.
But given the younger generation is much less likely to vote, that might just be a pointless endeavour…