One in three people in Great Britain sees immigration as the nation’s biggest problem.
Britons believe that “tension between immigrants and people born in the UK is the major cause of division, while well over half regard it as one of the top three causes,” reports today’s edition of The Guardian.
“Over the past two decades, both immigration and emigration have increased to historically high levels, with those entering the country exceeding those leaving by more than 100,000 in every year since 1998. Yet the survey in a report by the thinktank British Future, entitled “State of the Nation: Where is Bittersweet Britain Heading?”, also suggests the country is, at heart, tolerant of those who come to its shores.”
“Respect for the law, for the freedom of speech of others, and an ability to speak English were seen as the three most essential traits of a Briton, according to the survey of 2,515 people aged between 16 and 75. These were the top criteria across all ages and social classes. While one in four thinks being born here is important to being British, two-thirds of people believe the welfare state should be open to those born abroad who have contributed to society and play by the rules.
“The poll results are being released as communities secretary Eric Pickles prepares to give a major speech this week in which he will announce further efforts to aid integration. Pickles will say that a mastery of English is the key to social mobility and essential if people of different generations want to get on. He will stress that a shared language is vital for our economy. And he will highlight it is as the key to uniting people and increasing their understanding of one another.
“Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said the survey highlighted a national anxiety about immigration to which national politicians needed to respond. However, he also noted that the results suggested that when people thought about their local areas, there was less concern. While 30% placed immigration first when thinking about tensions facing British society as a whole, only 19% chose it as the most divisive issue in their own area.”
For more, see: http://www.google.com/reader/view/#search/GUARDIAN/1