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New report on the politics of immigrations asks what party leaders can learn from the outcome of the 2015 General Election

A new report by independent, non-partisan think tank, British Future, ‘The Politics of Immigration’ finds that most voters wanted the main parties to talk more about immigration in an election that was conspicuous by the lack of media and political attention to the topic. Instead the voice they heard most on immigration was UKIP’s Nigel Farage – but most voters, particularly those from ethnic minorities, didn’t like what he was saying.   The report draws on post-election polling by Survation which explored public attitudes to immigration in the 2015 General Election and made recommendations to the leaders of all political parties.   It challenges Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham to address voters’ legitimate concerns about the impacts of immigration. 45% of people thought the Labour Party should have said more about immigration in the General Election campaign, including a third of Labour voters.


‘The Politics of Immigration’ argues that the party needs to find an ‘authentic Labour voice’ to engage voters about their concerns on immigration. Labour politicians and party activists on the doorstep risked appearing to try and change the subject, onto issues like fairness in the workplace, when voters raised questions about immigration during the campaign. Only 10% of voters thought Labour talked too much about immigration in the election, with 46% saying they got the balance about right, including most ethnic minority respondents.


New findings on perceptions of UKIP will place pressure on UKIP leader Nigel Farage to ensure that the party’s tone on immigration, and the views of its candidates, do not cross the line into prejudice. The poll finds that most ethnic minority voters feel that UKIP is a racist party, with 55% of ethnic minority respondents saying the party can fairly be described as ‘racist’, while just 21% disagreed.


While the research also finds that 15% of ethnic minority voters say that they considered or would consider voting for UKIP, two-thirds of non-white Britons still say they would never vote for the party. Across voters of all ethnicities, 43% said it was unfair to describe UKIP as ‘racist’, while 40% say this is a fair description of the party.   The report features detailed analysis of attitudes among ethnic minority voters in the election.  It finds that ethnic minority votes are more ‘up for grabs’ than ever before, following the Conservative Party’s strongest showing yet with minority voters. While Labour remains ahead on 52% to the Conservatives’ 33%, the authors conclude that the decades of certain Labour dominance of the minority vote have come to an end.   Yet the Conservatives still need to do more to reach out to minority voters. More than a third (36%) of non-white Britons say the Conservative Party has not yet done enough to reach out to ethnic minority voters, while only 16% say this about Labour.