Nearly a third of people in Britain admit being racially prejudiced, according to a recent research by British Social Attitude survey.
According to the survey, 30% of the 2000 people polled described themselves as either “very” or “a little” race prejudiced a rise of 5% since 2001.
It also found wide variations currently across the country: 16% of people in inner London admitted to prejudice but the figure was 35% in the West Midlands. Older men in manual jobs were the most likely to say they were prejudiced, but the group recording the biggest rise was educated male professionals. Levels of racial prejudice increased with age, at 25% for 17 to 34-year-olds compared with 36% for over-55s.
Education had an impact with 19% of those with a degree and 38% of those with no qualifications reporting racial prejudice.
People were asked whether they would describe themselves as prejudiced “against people of other races”. It appeared to be in “inexorable decline” in 2001 as part of “increasingly socially liberal Britain” – but has since gone back up.
The effect of the 9/11 attacks and an increase in concern about immigration were two possible reasons for the turnaround.
More than 90% of those who admitted some level of racial prejudice wanted to see a reduction in the number of people entering the UK. But so did 73% of those who said they were not racially prejudiced.
The levels of racial prejudice declined steadily throughout the 90s, but have been on the rise again during the first decade of this century. This bucks the trend of a more socially liberal and tolerant Britain. Political leaders need to understand, hold their nerves and respond to increased levels of racial prejudice rather than fan the wind of hate following the UKIP results.