Contrary to popular belief, England has become a more tolerant and multicultural society over the past five years. The Fear and HOPE 2016 survey collected information from over 4,000 people in England about their attitudes towards race, immigration, faith and belonging and compared this to a similar study conducted in 2011. The study was undertaken by HOPE not hate - an organization that wants to exterminate the politics of hate and extremism within communities and build up resilience against the politics of hate and fear on a national and local level.
Their report found that despite what it may seem from the media climate, the English public’s overall attitude towards race, immigration and migrants is entirely more positive than what it was five years ago. This is due to the ever-growing optimism about the economy, which outweighs the feelings about the continuing record net migration inflow. The study found that about 33 percent of people now have a very positive attitude towards the growing multicultural society while the percentage of those who have a hostile attitude towards immigration has declined from 13 percent to 8 percent. Fifty percent (50%) now believe immigration has been good for the country overall, up from 40% in 2011.
According the findings, the English have a “laissez-faire” interpretation of multiculturalism. This means that while they celebrate diversity and support making minorities feel comfortable and welcome here, they oppose altering laws to accommodate the minority communities.
Although things are looking up, there are still challenges ahead. Twenty-four percent of English people still strongly oppose immigration and even more have economic concerns about new immigration and concerns about integration and assimilation. Also, forty-three percent say that Muslims are “completely different” to them although the number is down from 2011.
The study lends a brief summary of the opinion of England on migrants, immigration and multiculturalism and shows promise for future open-mindedness and acceptance. The link to the full report can be found below.