Immigration 'lost Labour the election'

Concerns about Labour's record on immigration appear to have damaged the party
Concerns about Labour's record on immigration appear to have damaged the party

By Peter Wozniak

Labour's failure to respond to voters' concerns over immigration was a contributing factor to the loss of Labour votes at the general election, a new poll has suggested.

A YouGov poll of 45,000 respondents commissioned by Demos displayed a significant proportion of Labour voters lost to the party since 2005 were concerned with the levels of economic migration.

Thirty-six per cent of these lost voters agreed with the statement that the UK "should limit the number of people coming from other countries to live and work here because on balance, they damage our economy and society". This compared to just 28% of Labour voters who remained loyal.

Lost Labour voters were more likely to agree that increased diversity has damaging consequences for British identity, though only by 19% to 15%.

This appears to suggest that a significant minority of those voters that abandoned Labour at the last election did so because they were dissatisfied with the government's policy on immigration. Richard Darlington, head of the Open Left project at Demos said: "This polling evidence shows that Labour lost voters over immigration and failed to get its message across to voters about managing economic migration.

"Labour's next leader must not duck the issue and should make sure they position policies on housing, welfare and employment rights in the context of the debates voters themselves are having about immigration."

Forty-nine per cent of respondents from all parties agreed with the sentiment that immigrants ought to contribute to the national economy before they can gain the benefits of citizenship.

Only 11% of the sample agreed that economic migrants should be allowed to live and work in this country because they benefit our economy and society.

With the Labour leadership election fast approaching, the candidates will be following the findings very closely indeed.

"If immigration becomes a 'no go area' for Labour, they will remain disconnected from the electorate at large," Mr Darlington concluded.


Politics @ Lunch

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