UK Politics

Immigration - A racing certainty

Today's GDP figures means it's a pretty safe bet that immigration and not the economy will be the top issue in voters minds in the European elections.

I've taken my ballot box to Yorkshire today to test the public mood on that issue - the second of a series of three pre-election films.

News of a recovery has produced a month by month drop in the numbers telling pollsters that the economy is their number one concern. In contrast, concern about immigration has been growing and in the last Ipsos-Mori poll tied with the economy as the most important issue facing Britain.

Nick Robinson at a Bollywood dance class

I talked to voters at the Beverley races near Hull and at a Bollywood dance class at Hindu Madir in nearby Leeds as well as in the city's Kirkgate market.*

It's clear that:

  • An overwhelmingly majority - polls suggest around three quarters of voters - back a cut to immigration.
  • That view is held almost as strongly amongst people who are themselves first- and second-generation immigrants. Many British Asian voters believe that new arrivals from Eastern Europe get a better deal than they do after decades of living here, working hard and paying their taxes.
  • However, for many people it is not the issue that will determine their vote. After all, the view that immigration needs to be cut has been backed by large numbers for decades (even at times when immigration has been relatively low). Parties who've called for tough curbs on immigration have often not succeeded - as William Hague and Michael Howard know only too well.

What may make things different now is the link between Europe and immigration - a link which Nigel Farage believes will allow UKIP to make history by topping the poll on 22 May.

* If you found my on camera cycling painful to watch yesterday don't worry: I don't ride a horse or dance on camera.

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