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(04/11/08) -

Immigration Has Damaged Culture, Say Britons

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in Britain think a high influx of immigrants over the years has damaged and diluted the country’s culture, according to a poll by YouGov released by Juniper TV. 58 per cent of respondents agree with this assessment, while 25 per cent think immigration to Britain has enriched the country’s culture.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in Britain think a high influx of immigrants over the years has damaged and diluted the country’s culture, according to a poll by YouGov released by Juniper TV. 58 per cent of respondents agree with this assessment, while 25 per cent think immigration to Britain has enriched the country’s culture.

In April 2005, as part of the governing Labour party’s election manifesto, then British prime minister Tony Blair announced the introduction of an immigration points system. The plan divides would-be immigrants into five tiers according to skills and job offers. The government claimed the new system will eventually bring an end to the migration of low-skilled workers from outside the European Union (EU) into Britain.

According to official numbers, since Labour came to power in 1997 until 2007, nearly four million foreign nationals moved to Britain and 1.6 million left.

In June 2007, Gordon Brown officially became Labour leader and prime minister, replacing Blair. Brown had worked as chancellor of the exchequer. Blair served as Britain’s prime minister since May 1997, winning majority mandates in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections to the House of Commons. Brown named Jacqui Smith as home secretary. Smith is the first woman to ever oversee matters of immigration and counter-terrorism in Britain.

In January 2002, the Blair government introduced the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) to attract "high human capital individuals" into Britain. In November 2006, Blair sought to introduce changes—some of them retroactive—into the HSMP program. Opposition politicians and a lobby group for more than 49,000 foreign workers deemed the plan "illegal." Thousands of high-skilled immigrants—most of them from India—faced the risk of being sent home under the new terms.

On Apr. 8, a high court reviewing the proposed changes ruled that it is "not open to the government to alter the terms and conditions" of the HSMP, and called attempts to amend the terms of the program retroactively "an abuse of power."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne discussed the ruling, saying, "(It) makes it clear that the government’s decision to change the rules for highly skilled immigrants already working in this country was not only deeply unfair but also completely illegal."

Polling Data

Which of the following statements comes closer to your view?

Immigration into Britain over the years has led to the development of a rich and varied culture

25%

Immigration into Britain over the years has led to culture in Britain being damaged and diluted

58%

Neither of these / Not sure

17%

Source: YouGov / Juniper TV
Methodology: Online interviews with 2,311 British adults, conducted from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, 2008. No margin of error was provided.