First-time voters far happier with UK’s ethnic mix than over-60s

Poll revealing big generation gap on diversity suggests support for the  far-right parties  is vulnerable

Deputy Political Editor

Those who will vote for the first in 2015 are dramatically more at ease with Britain’s rapidly changing ethnic make-up than their citizens aged over 60, a survey has found.

British Future, the think-tank which commissioned the poll, said the findings suggested support for hardline right-wing groups such as the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) would fade over time.

The YouGov survey publihed yesterday discovered that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of young adults who, next May, will be able to vote for the first time at a general election were comfortable with Britain being more ethnically diverse than 20 years ago.That contrasted with less than one-third of over-60s (32 per cent) who said they were relaxed with the change.

First-time voters – people aged between 17 and 21 – were also much more positive about the potential benefits for Britain from immigration.

When asked to rate the impact of immigration, 31 per cent gave it a very positive score of between eight and 10, twice as many as those who scored it negatively at between zero and two (16 per cent).

There was a strikingly different response among the over-60s, with 40 per cent giving immigration a score of zero to two and just 8 per cent feeling positive and rating its impact at between eight and 10.

The findings were released by British Future to coincide with a mock funeral in east London to celebrate the BNP losing its two European Parliamentary seats in last week’s elections. Its downfall was in striking contrast to the spectacular gains by Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France.

A horse-drawn hearse carried a coffin, with flowers spelling “RIP Fascism”, in a procession down Cable Street, where local residents stopped black-shirted followers of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists marching through the area in 1936. It ended with a “wake” at nearby Wilton’s Music Hall.

 

Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, said: “Young people have grown up in modern, diverse Britain, and they are comfortable with what they see. Angry men with far-right views who want to kick out their friends and neighbours hold no appeal to them. Fascism, as a political force, is a thing of the past.”

He added: “The far-right has never secured mass appeal in this country because it never shed the jackboot image. Defeating fascism in the Second World War is one of the proudest moments of this country’s history and is part of our identity as a people.”

Yesterday’s findings were at odds with data this week from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey which concluded that racial intolerance had started rising again after years of decline. It found that 30 per cent of Britons described themselves as either “very” or “a little” prejudiced against people of other races, an increase since 2001.

The BNP saw its vote collapse in last week’s Euro and local elections. Its party leader, Nick Griffin, lost his seat in the European Parliament after support slumped by three-quarters in the North-west of England. The party achieved just one win in a council election, retaining a seat in the Lancashire authority of Pendle.

Several former activists have resigned to set up splinter parties. They include Britain First, whose supporters recently attracted headlines when they handed out Bibles at mosques in Bradford.

Meanwhile the EDL, the street protest movement which campaigns again “Islamic extremism” was thrown into turmoil last year when its founder, Tommy Robinson, suddenly resigned from the organisation. However, it remains active and continues to mount demonstrations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy