Poll reveals huge public support for multiculturalism
As I've mentioned before, multiculturalism is not an ideology, it is merely a statement of fact. The most recent Lord Ashcroft poll suggests it is a particularly successful one.
The survey of 1,035 minority voters completed earlier this week found nine in ten believed the UK was now multicultural and about that many believe it's a good thing. A representative poll of the general public conducted at the same time found 70% of voters believed it was a good thing. The only group with a majority opposing multiculturalism were Ukip voters. Seventy-one per cent of Tories support multiculturalism, as do 76% of Labour voters and 89% of Lib Dems.
Ethnic minorities themselves believe the various groups in the UK get on very well with each other. The general population, probably under the influence of persistent tabloid headlines about the mythical breakdown of the British social fabric, tend to overestimate problems between minority groups.
Particularly pertinent is the optimism with which minorities view British life. Seventy per cent of Hindus and 68% of Muslims believe "if you work hard, it is possible to be very successful in Britain no matter what your background". That compares to just 59% of the general population. In this as in so much else, minorities hold a more upbeat assessment of life in this country than the general public. The patriotism which comes from minority groups is often based on a clear-headed recognition of the benefits of life here, rather than the arbitrary distinction of simply being born here. It gives patriotic sentiment a more sunny, positive disposition.
Telling, there is also further evidence of how fertile the Hindu and Sikh electorates can be for the Conservative party. They are far more likely to be sympathetic to the Tories than other minorities, and for good reason. These groups are often small business owners and are typically socially conservative and suspicious of state handouts. The Tories should be hoovering up their votes and their inability to do so is a sign they need to start speaking a different language on modern Britain.
Minorities don't vote for the Tories because they think – with good justification – that Tories don't believe in multiculturalism. They are a party for white people. The political attack on multiculturalism isn't just inaccurate and unethical – it is a self-inflicted political handicap.
So the big question is this: If multiculturalism is so widely accepted and so popular, why do political leaders feel the need to do speeches attacking it, like David Cameron's ridiculous 'multiculturalism has failed' missive?
They do it because they confuse the tabloid view of Britain with the attitudes of the British themselves. This is a persistent problem. The majority of voters, in any election since World War Two, vote centre-left. But a persistent myth of Britain as a right-wing country persists because of the inadequacies of our voting system and the mood music created by tabloids.
In multiculturalism, as in so much else, the British public marches well ahead of the press and the political class, waiting for them to catch up. The quicker they do so the more votes they have to gain.