'British jobs' slogan splits the public

Racist or principled?
Racist or principled?

By Laura Miller

The slogan 'British jobs for British workers' has split opinion between those who agree with the phrase, and those who believe it smacks of racism, a politics.co.uk poll has revealed.

For analysis on protectionism in the UK click here.

For comment on Gordon Brown's patriotism click here.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents thought 'British jobs for British workers' - which appeared on picket lines nationwide in support of workers at Total's Lindsey refinery and was used by Gordon Brown in a speech at the Labour party conference in 2007 - represented xenophobic views.

Roughly the same number of respondents agreed with the statement.

Critics of the slogan have argued it was lifted straight from the copybook of the British National party (BNP).

The slogan provided a vehicle for the party as it leapt into the fray, posting its supporters at the impromptu protests and helping to organise angry strikers in the hope of luring away disgruntled Labour voters.

Over a third of respondents condemned the phrase as racist, the exact same number as said British workers should have preferential access to British jobs.

Even among those who disagreed with the language of the protest, there was a strong perception that current EU laws give foreign businesses an unfair advantage.

Almost half the respondents to our poll agreed with strikers who accused the EU of allowing foreign workers to work for less than their British rivals, forcing UK workers onto the ever-growing unemployment lines.

Employees at the Humber refinery downed tools in January to protest against jobs for a British contract being filled by Italian workers. Solidarity strikes broke out all over the UK.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents supported the strikers, and the majority - 54 per cent - condemned Mr Brown's government for its poor handling of the industrial action.

The Tories failed to capitalise on Labour's failure, however. Almost 60 per cent of those polled thought David Cameron's party reacted just as poorly to the crisis.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.