I have been thinking about the recent ‘Fear and Hope’ research published by Searchlight. On the face of it, the results are worrying. They appear to show growing support for the far right, increased opposition to immigration, and a particular hostility to Muslims in Britain.
Certainly, these most negative findings were seized upon by the media. Featuring prominently was the assertion that “almost half of voters would back a far right party that did not promote violence”.
This is news, of course, and any serious evidence about attitudes to race and immigration needs to be considered carefully. But I am concerned about the way the report was spun by its own authors, who often seemed to be accentuating the negative.
This is an important debate, and Unite Against Fascism have now published a comprehensive response to the Fear and Hope report. It concludes:
“At a time when austerity and cuts are creating fertile ground for scapegoating and racism, providing a breeding ground for the extreme right, the real priority should be to explain the enormous economic and social contribution that generations of immigrants have made to this country, and defending Muslim communities from those who would blame them for their feelings of malaise”