THE ANTI-IMMIGRANT LOBBY claims overwhelming popular support for its demands for fierce restrictions on certain kinds of foreigners (ones from “low-GDP countries”, as the UKBA puts it). Setting aside the assumption that it is ever OK to oppress people “by popular demand”, it appears even that assumption is wildly wide of the mark.
The YouGov poll commissioned by Lush for No One Is Illegal (NOII), and carried out on 19th May 2011 asked 2,056 people whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement (which you can support here):
“People should be free to live and work wherever they wish, and enjoy all the same rights as all other residents.”
• 54 percent of them either agreed (35 percent) or “strongly agreed” (19 percent)
• 31 percent either didn’t know (8 percent) or “neither agreed nor disagreed” (23 percent)
• Only 16 percent disagreed (12 percent) or “strongly disagreed” (4 percent)
The sample was then split in two: half were asked more specific questions about whether their own travels should be subject to various restrictions; the other half were asked whether the same restrictions should apply to foreigners visiting Britain. This revealed a definite (but not massive) bias against foreigners – but more than that, how important “framing” is.
The first of the sub-questions asked Group A whether “you” should be free to live and work in a foreign country, and Group B whether foreigners should be free to live and work in Britain. Both groups replied in favour – although Group A’s majority (72 percent) was much bigger than Group B’s (46 percent).
i.e. a majority in both cases for freedom of movement for all, wherever they come from.