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Politics

The politics of diversity: immigration, minorities and the radical right

Our insights into the political and social impact of ethnic change in Britain contribute to policies and campaigns to integrate ethnic minorities and address concerns about immigration and rising diversity.

Wall mural depicting diversity
A series of overlapping research projects generated a clearer understanding of the political and social impact of immigration and ethnic change in Britain.

The UK’s ethnic mix has changed radically in the last 15 years, but how has this altered social structures and political behaviour? Our research into public opinion on immigration and ethnic minority political attitudes has helped to inform government policies and activist-led campaigns.

A series of overlapping research projects generated a clearer understanding of the political and social impact of immigration and ethnic change in Britain.

Insights from the research have been presented to politicians and activists to support their policy development and campaign planning, informing and influencing:

  • Nothing British, a campaign group founded to combat the British Nationalist Party (BNP)
  • The UK Labour Party’s migration and immigration policy, as outlined in a speech by Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband in December 2012
  • The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, which seeks to promote a balanced and informed debate on migration among MPs and policymakers, through a briefing document summarising key research findings
  • Cabinet Office/Electoral Commission proposals to move to individual electoral registration
  • The Home Office Migration Advisory Committee and opinion makers more widely, via the creation of the Ethnic Politics website in collaboration with Runnymede Trust to present data and findings to politicians, journalists and the general public.

Key quote

"The report … led to an important shift in policy recommendations, highlighting the limited impact of immigration on social cohesion and calling for greater focus on economic deprivation"

Our research

Our research has pursued three main lines of enquiry:

  • Attitudes to immigrants and ethnic minorities, where we highlight an important decline in prejudice driven by generational change (albeit with an undertow of persistent and intense anxiety about immigration).
  • The rise of fringe right parties, where we have observed that the unprecedented rise in voting for the British National Party and the UK Independence Party is strongest amongst politically disaffected white working class males anxious about the impact of immigration and Islam.
  • Ethnic minority political behaviour, through the development of the Ethnic Minority British Election Study, the largest and most detailed collection of information on the political attitudes and choices of Britain's diverse minority communities, we have revealed the under-registration of some ethnic groups, the exclusion of minority concerns from the political agenda, and clear evidence that minorities were much less likely to be contacted by the political parties.

Key people