Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Who are the people who voted BNP last week?

Anthony Wells, UK Polling Report

Channel 4 have published a huge YouGov poll taken in the days before the European elections, intended largely to examine exactly what drove support for the BNP. The full tables are well worth a look here

Firstly, there is the question of whose vote the BNP takes. The demographics of people who voted BNP in the European elections show they are more likely to be C2DE social class, likely to read the Sun or Star and almost certainly not a broadsheet, they are likely to work in a manual occupation (they are also likely to be male and middle aged, though that has less of a partisan implication). They are also likely to come from a Labour supporting background - 47% of BNP voters say their parents voted Labour.

This fits with the pattern of where the BNP tend to do well - normally seats that were previously strongly Labour - and with other studies of where the BNP get their support.

If BNP supporters are traditional Labour, male working class voters therefore, the natural conclusion that it’s Labour they are taking support from. This falls down, however, on some other questions - asked if they’d rather have Cameron or Brown as PM, BNP voters opt for Cameron by 59% to 17%. Asked to place themselves on the political spectrum they put themselves right of centre, in roughly the same place as they do the Tories. 22% of them think the Tories care about people like themselves, only 6% say the same about Labour. In short, the people the BNP seem to appeal to are actually “working class Tories” - the sort of traditional working class voters who under other circumstances might shift over to the Conservatives.

Asked a series of satisfaction questions, as might be expected, BNP voters were the least content with their lot in life. They were most likely to be dissatisifed with their disposable income, most likely to feel unsafe in their local area, most likely to feel their family had few opportunities to prosper and - along with UKIP voters - were most pessimistic on the economy.

Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of BNP supporters wanted all immigration stopped - 94% agreed with the statement. However, this doesn’t strongly differentiate them from the rest of the public, 61% of whom agreed with the statement. Only amongst Green party supporters were a plurality opposed to the statement. BNP supporters were also most likely to put immigration as the top issue facing the country. 87% picked it as a major issue, though again, amongst the public as a whole it was already the second most mentioned issue, chosen by 49% of people. (As an aside, it’s worth noting that UKIP supporters also named immigration as the most important issue. Only 39% of people who voted for UKIP put the issue of Europe as one of the top four facing the UK)

Looking at other statements on race or immigration however, BNP supporters tend to contrast far more strongly with supporters of other parties. The majority of every other party’s voters agreed with the statement that “Non-white British citizens who were born in this country are just as ‘British’ as white citizens born in this country”, only 35% of BNP voters did, with 44% disagreeing. Large majorities of every party’s supporters agreed that there was no difference in intelligence between black and white people…except for BNP supporters, where only 41% agreed. Almost half (49%) of BNP supporters thought employers should discriminate on grounds of race in favour of white people (compared to 11% in the general population), and 58% thought most crime was committed by immigrants (22% in the general population). 72% of BNP supporters wanted the government to encourage voluntary repatriation, compared to 27% of the country as a whole.

At the extremes of conspiracy theory, BNP voters are more likely to believe in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, or that the Holocaust didn’t happen, but not to a great extent - the overwhelming majority reject them. 3% of British people apparently believe it completely true that “there is a major international conspiracy led by Jews and Communists to undermine traditional Christian values in Britain”, compared to 9% of BNP supporters. 9% of British people think the Holocaust is exaggerated, with 1% denying it entirely - the figures amongst BNP supporters are 18% and 2%.

A final interesting point was the question of where people got their political news from. The vast majority of people get their news, as one would expect, from the TV, followed by newspapers, the radio and news websites. There was no great contrast between supporters of one political party or another on any of these. Where there was a contrast was the proportion of people who got their news from “political parties websites” - only 3% of people ticked this, but 12% of BNP voters did, suggesting the BNP have managed to communicate directly with their potential voters across the web.

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