Immigration curbs could have a decisive impact on the election result
Second only to the economy in key marginals

January 18, 2010

The extent to which immigration is likely to play a decisive role in the forthcoming election is spelled out in a new poll published today.

The poll, conducted by YouGov for Migrationwatch, was held in the vital 57 “marginal” seats which the Conservatives must win to gain a reasonable working majority; 43 are Labour held and 14 are held by the Liberal Democrats. The description below refers only to Labour held seats. The figures for Lib Dem held seats were very similar as shown in the tables.

The poll found that only the economy is more important to voters in these seats. When asked which issue was most likely to influence their vote, 36% of all voters in Labour held seats named the economy while 13% named immigration. Taxation and the NHS were next at 8% and 6 % respectively. Among those intending to vote Labour at the next election, 42% named the economy. Immigration and the NHS came equal second with 9%.

‘The polling numbers tell us yet again that immigration is a matter of deep concern to a large majority of the population and that they are likely to respond very positively to parties that seriously address them,’ said Migrationwatch chairman, Sir Andrew Green.

The poll found that 85% of people in Labour held marginal seats, were worried (with 49% very worried) about the population reaching 70 million by 2029 as official figures suggest. 75% of voters in these seats believe that the right level of net immigration to Britain was 50,000 a year or less (compared to 160,000 last year); indeed 49% wanted "one in, one out" or no immigration at all.

The poll also found that 44% in Labour held marginals would be more likely (23% much more likely) to vote Conservative if David Cameron were to say that a Conservative government would reduce immigration to 50,000 or below in order to keep the UK population below 70 million. Only 5% in these seats were less likely (2% much less likely) to vote Conservative in these circumstances. In Lib Dem held seats the response was almost the same.

In response to a similar question about Gordon Brown, 30% of voters in Labour marginals were more likely (13% much more likely) to vote Labour while 7% were less likely (2% much less likely) to vote for that party.

Other questions revealed a generally negative view of immigration. Asked whether they agreed that the current level of immigration has an adverse effect on local public services such as schools and hospitals, 72% in Labour held seats agreed (38% strongly) while 19% disagreed. 54% of voters in Labour held seats thought that recent immigration had been bad for the economy while only 19% thought it had been good (20% had no view). 59% in labour held seats thought that recent immigration had been bad for British society as a whole while 18% thought that it had been good (with 19% saying neither).

Said Sir Andrew: ‘These are very significant figures which show that the public are implacably opposed to a continuation of the mass immigration encouraged by this Government and are tired of having their concerns ignored. What they want are clear manifesto commitments to a dramatic reduction in the numbers.’

The sample size was 2027 GB adults and the field work was conducted between 6 and 8 January.

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