CAIRO – British voters are more likely to support parties which carry a far-right, anti-immigrant agenda to cut the number of Muslims in their country, a new government poll has found.
"The results clearly point towards enduring public anxieties over the performance of mainstream political and business elites, immigration,” Matthew Goodwin of the Extremis Project, an independent group monitoring extremism and terrorism that commissioned the research, told The Observer on Sunday, September 16.
“Also [anxieties over] the role of Muslims and Islam in society,” Goodwin added.
|Exposing Mindset of UK Far-right|
Conducted by YouGov with 1,750 respondents, the survey found that 41% of Britons would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to stop all immigration.
A less 28% of respondents said they would be less likely to support a group that promoted such policies.
The survey unveiled that 37% of Britons would be more likely to support a political party that promised to reduce the number of Muslims in Britain and the presence of Islam in society, compared with 23% who said it would make them less likely.
Across Europe, far-right politicians have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities in recent years.
In Britain, far-right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
The EDL, a far-right group that emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls “Islamic extremism” in Britain.
In the Netherlands, far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders has won prominence over his rhetoric against Muslim immigration in the European country.
In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats unveiled plans to impose a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.
New groups were also appearing in Denmark after EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon held the inaugural meeting of a Europe-wide network of defense leagues in Oslo two weeks ago.
Another group, Women Against Islamization, was founded in Belgium last month to campaign against Muslim immigration in the country.
US neo-conservative and evangelical groups were also beginning to share resources with European anti-immigrant groups.
However, the survey found that young Britons were less likely to support parties that sponsor an announced anti-immigrant policy.
"While we see further evidence of an emerging generation that is more tolerant towards – and accepting of – immigration and diversity, there remains clear potential for a party that … promises to halt immigration, reduce the number of Muslims and prioritize traditional British values over other cultures," Goodwin, a lecturer at Nottingham University, said.
According to the survey, British voters showed a striking generational divide in attitudes towards multiculturalism.
It found that large majorities of 18-to -24-year-olds rejected radical rightwing policies, with 60% saying that a party campaigning to halt all immigration would make them less likely to support it or that it did not matter to them.
Less than a quarter of 18-to-24-year-olds said they would be more likely to vote for a party that promised to halt all immigration, compared with more than half of those aged above 60.
Similarly, 27% of the younger age group said they would vote for a party that campaigned to reduce the number of Muslims, compared with 49% of those aged over 60.
Last March, EDL announced its preparations to form a new political party amid accusations that it will represent a new far-right front in Britain.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly two million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Related Links:UK Far-right Gains From Recession
Fight Far-right Extremism: UK Officials
Far-right Fuels Extremism: UK Police
New Extremism Policy Alarms UK Muslims
Far-right Unites Against Europe Muslims