Fear and HOPE 2017 finds that attitudes in London are distinct from the rest of the country. On the whole, Londoners are open and tolerant towards others and have shown strong resilience to tragic recent events in the city.
Migration and multiculturalism
London is a city of migration and hosts the greatest number of migrants anywhere in the UK – an estimated 3.2 million foreign-born people call London home.
The diversity of the city welcomes newcomers, with Londoners are 17% more likely than those elsewhere in England to believe there is a place for everyone in Britain.
Our poll estimates that people in London see this as a positive thing – they are 15% more likely to see immigration as a good thing for the country versus those outside of the capital, and are far more likely to think that cultural diversity benefits British culture (71% of Londoners agree compared to just 51% of those elsewhere).
Recent terror attacks
Despite the tragic events this summer, following the attacks on Westminster, Borough Market and Finsbury Park, 80% of Londoners believe that it is wrong to blame an entire religion for the actions of a few extremists.
While the attacks have worsened attitudes towards Muslims across England since our last poll in 2011, this has been less profound in London.
31% of Londoners said that the recent terror attacks had increased their suspicion towards Muslims, compared to 41% of people outside the city.
86% of people in the city have been impressed with the unity shown by the British population in the face of terror attacks, while 64% of Londoners had noticed Muslim community leaders speaking out about the attacks compared to 52% of non-Londoners.
Grenfell Tower Fire
The Grenfell Tower disaster has deeply divided the country. Londoners, Labour voters and those from BAME backgrounds draw a wider lesson about Britain’s unequal society, while those outside London, Conservatives and Nigel Farage supporters view it as an isolated unfortunate accident.
57% of people across England felt that the fire was not something from which to make a big political statement, while 43% felt that the fire was an indictment of Britain’s unequal society where the poor continually lose out. Young people and black and minority ethnic respondents were more likely to see Grenfell as a manifestation of wider inequality.
The share of these views was considerably different inside and outside of London and the anger of many, manifest in the ‘day of rage’ protests and demonstrations around Kensington following the blaze, was carried across the city.
Within London, 58% of people thought that the fire was a sign of inequality, while outside of London 59% of people felt that the fire was not something to make a political statement from. Londoners will likely have been exposed to more press coverage of the fire, plus the proximity of the tragic event and Londoners’ own experiences with housing in the capital, will have raised awareness of the struggles of those affected.
The reaction to Grenfell was also divided along political lines. Two-thirds of those who voted Labour in the recent General Election saw Grenfell as a symbol of wider social inequality, while over three-quarters of people who voted Conservative viewed it as a one-off tragedy.
The attitude of the 14% of the population that identified with Nigel Farage took a very similar view to that of the Conservative Party. Those who identified with Jeremy Corbyn unsurprisingly hold a diametrically opposite view.