Monday, September 2, 2013

Immigration is hurting us, say six out of ten British voters: Fears over impact on jobs and public services

Sixty per cent of the public believe immigration has damaged Britain, a major poll revealed last night.

The study, commissioned by former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft, reveals widespread concern about the scale of immigration and its impact on jobs and public services.

Just one person in six (17 per cent) believes that the advantages of immigration have outweighed the disadvantages.

Many of the 20,000 people polled also reported direct experience of losing out to immigrants in the competition for a job or public services such as housing.

Overall, it was identified as the second most important issue facing Britain after the state of the economy.

Lord Ashcroft said the study revealed deep concerns about immigration, coupled with scepticism that any of the political parties would deal with the problem.

‘Many feel that over the past 15 years immigration has been allowed to happen on a scale we cannot cope with, and without public consent being sought or given,’ he said.

‘Politicians underestimated the size of the challenge, lost control of the situation, refused for too long to acknowledge that any problems might result, and are now struggling but failing to cope.

‘Most [of the public] do not feel there is any strategy for dealing with the number of migrants and their successful integration into British society, or for managing the effects on housing, infrastructure, jobs, the NHS, schools or the benefits system.’

More than three-quarters of people (77 per cent) said they supported a ‘drastic’ reduction in immigration, saying it would make it easier for British people to find jobs and reduce the pressure on public services.

More than one-third (36 per cent) said that they or a family member had found it harder to get work because of competition from immigrants, and almost a quarter (24 per cent) said they or a family member had lost out to immigrants in the queue for council housing or other public services.

Women were more hostile to immigration, with just 14 per cent saying immigration had been a good thing, compared to 21 per cent of men.

And there were clear differences between supporters of the political parties.  Some 62 per cent of Tory voters thought immigration had damaged Britain, compared to 48 per cent of Labour voters and 39 per cent of Lib Dems.  Ninety-one per cent of UKIP voters said immigration was damaging Britain.

The poll also identified differences in class attitudes towards immigration.  Middle-aged working-class voters were far more concerned about the issue, with 90 per cent saying it was one of the biggest challenges facing the country.

By contrast, graduates working in the public sector were likely to be far more positive about immigration, with 80 per cent saying it had benefited Britain.

But the poll also revealed some more nuanced attitudes towards immigration. Some 83 per cent said they or a family member had been treated by NHS staff from overseas, and 49 per cent said immigrants were willing to do jobs that British workers do not want to do, with 38 per cent saying they also worked harder than their British counterparts.

The poll also revealed deep public scepticism about the willingness of the government to deal with the problems produced by immigration.

A controversial Home Office poster campaign warning illegal immigrants to ‘Go home or face arrest’ was supported by 79 per cent of people, but only 17 per cent think it will work while just 37 per cent of people think illegal immigrants already in the country are ever likely to face deportation.

David Cameron has pledged to cut net migration – the difference between numbers entering and leaving Britain – to under 100,000 from non-EU countries by the time of the next general election in 2015.

But, alarmingly for the Prime Minister, the study shows most people are not aware of government initiatives to bring about this reduction.

The poll found that 76 per cent of people supported an annual cap on non-EU immigration but only 34 per cent knew it had taken place.

There was also widespread support for other initiatives, such as cracking down on bogus colleges that grant places to immigrants pretending to be students, toughening requirements for immigrants to speak English and making it harder for people to bring in spouses from outside Europe, but in each case a majority of people was unaware that action had already been taken.


Britain 'giving in to sharia councils' says Norway's anti-immigration leader

Britain is "giving into the claims of Sharia councils", according to the leader of Norway's anti-immigration party which is poised to enter government later this month.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Siv Jensen, the 44-year-old leader of the Progress party who cites Baroness Thatcher as her inspiration, said: "What I have seen that the UK has done is to give in to the claims of sharia councils, and I don't think we should give into that. In Norway we have one law, and that is the Norwegian law."

Miss Jensen, who is unmarried, said Britain was suffering the results of earlier mistakes in its immigration policy.

"I see some problems arising – You've had problems with riots, you've had problems with radical groups who aren't very fond of democratic systems and freedom of speech, and I think those are criteria that you really have to stick to in the modern world."

Miss Jensen's party has grown to become Norway's third largest since it was launched in the 1970s, pushing a libertarian economic and social policy, combined with a vehemently anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic stand.

Ahead of parliamentary elections this Sunday, she could now enter into coalition for the first time with the more centrist Conservatives, who hold a wafer thin poll lead over their rivals Labour.  "We are ready to take on the responsibility," Miss Jensen said.

Miss Jensen has steered her party to recovery since the aftermath of the twin attacks mounted two years ago by far-Right terrorist Anders Breivik, a former party member. The party's support dropped to 12 per cent but a softening in her rhetoric since the attacks has helped them recover.

"Siv Jensen used to talk about 'the hidden Islamisation of Norway', and she doesn't do that any more," said Martine Aurdal, political editor of the Dagbladet newspaper and Miss Jensen's biographer.

In recent months the party has published a hard-hitting 'Immigration sustainability report', while she has allowed other members of her party a free voice.

Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who leads the party in Oslo, speaks about a cultural war with Islam.

"We can't celebrate Christmas in school, we can't sing Christmas Carols," he told the Telegraph. "This is a small part of our culture, which is being washed away gradually, and its very painful. We gave them a home, and now it's us who are having to adapt to their culture."

The report recommends the number of non-Western immigrants coming to Norway from close to 20,000 a year to about 1,500 a year.

To do this, it recommends renegotiating international refugee treaties, making it more difficult to get citizenship, and curtailing the rights of Norwegian citizens from non-Western countries to bring over their families.

Traditional Islamic marriages would not count as marriages for immigration purposes, while a spouse would need to have studied for seven years after primary school to be eligible to come to Norway, effectively ruling out family reunion with spouses from most Islamic and less developed countries.

When asked about the proposal to make Islamic marriages ineligible, Miss Jensen stressed that the report was not yet official party policy.

Miss Jensen rejected any comparison of her party's ideas on to those of Breivik. "I haven't really spent much time reading his crazy theories, but what he did was just very awful and he attacked our democracy and I think here, nobody blames us for his actions. That would be absurd."


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