Most British people are united around the view that immigration has harmed communities, a report from a Left-leaning think-tank said yesterday.
There are also fears among many that the nation’s culture and traditions have been neglected.
The report said that the great majority of Britons think the arrival of migrants has left towns and cities more divided – and that this feeling is strongest in areas that have seen large-scale immigration over recent years.
But the report from the Demos think-tank also said Britons do not want to turn the clock back and, unlike contemporaries in France and Germany, they remain suspicious about nostalgia and optimistic about the future.
Based on a British poll, as well as on views taken from focus groups across Britain, Germany and France, the report said nearly two-thirds of people in the UK believe life was better when they were growing up.
But it added: ‘Despite the widespread critiques of contemporary British society, and anxieties about the future, many citizens remain both resilient and begrudgingly optimistic – a point that sets them apart from participants in our French and German focus groups.’
The report also said that alongside the concern that the country is in a ‘state of decline’, British people are united by the belief that immigration has had a negative impact and that ‘the nation’s cultures and traditions are not being sufficiently defended and promoted’.
Large numbers of people, it said, are ‘particularly incensed by cultural pluralism, seen to be favoured over British values and traditions, and political correctness, regarded as taxing and repressive’.
The findings from Demos, a think-tank once regarded as close to Tony Blair, and which is now led by an ex-senior aide to former Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg, come at a time of persistent attacks from left-wing activists on figures widely seen as central to British values.
Theresa May’s portrait was removed from the geography school at Oxford University after complaints that Mrs May’s policies on Brexit and the Windrush scandal were offensive
These range from a tweet by Historic England, the quango charged with celebrating national monuments, on the idea that Nelson’s Column should be demolished, to the removal of Theresa May’s portrait from the geography school at Oxford University.
The picture was removed after complaints that Mrs May’s policies on Brexit and the Windrush scandal were offensive.
The Demos poll, which saw more than 1,000 Sky TV subscribers questioned, found that while 43 per cent thought immigration into Britain had been positive, 44 per cent thought it had had a negative impact instead.
Nearly 71 per cent thought immigration had divided communities where migrants have settled. This rose to 78 per cent in ‘areas that report having experience large-scale migration in recent years’.
Nearly half, 47 per cent, felt that protecting British values should take priority over multiculturalism.
And 55 per cent said the Government is doing too little to promote traditional British values.
This thinking was common among Tory supporters and those who voted to leave the EU, but was also the most popular view among Labour and Remain voters.
The Demos report said: ‘Only three issues appear to truly unite the nation – the belief that the country is in a state of decline and that further change lies on the horizon, feeling that immigration has negatively impacted British society, and believing the nation’s cultures and traditions are not being sufficiently defended and promoted.’
Lord Green of Deddington, head of the Migration Watch UK pressure group, said: ‘It is absolutely the case that very few people appear to have been sticking up for the culture and traditions of our own country. This is a telling and most welcome reminder of what people really feel.’
Kathy Gyngell, of the Conservative Woman website, said studies have shown that large-scale immigration has ‘depressed wages’.
She added it has also put pressure on the UK due to population growth.