Progressives are not majority in UK

By Nick Lowles, March 3, 2011
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The Searchlight Educational Trust this week released the findings of the biggest-ever poll exploring issues of English identity, faith and race.

Entitled Fear and Hope - the New Politics of Identity, the findings are far from comforting. People are scared about the future and their views on diversity and society are largely influenced by their own economic situation.

Additionally there is a significant potential support base for a new English Nationalist Party, which does not have the overtly racist trappings of the BNP or the violent connotations of the English Defence League.

The report concludes that there is not a progressive majority in England and that there is a widespread fear of the "other", particularly Muslims.

This is not happy reading for any of us who worry about community cohesion and the stability of our neighbourhoods.

However, there are many positives in the report, and more importantly the research gives us a road map to overcoming fear and hate. Violent extremism is unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of people and there was a genuine recognition that extremism breeds extremism - the far-right feed Islamic groups by their on-going aggressive activities and vice versa, negatively affecting all of us.

The message of "a plague on both your houses" for all forms of extremism, is something that we at Searchlight will continue to develop and utilise in our local community campaigns.

Over two-thirds of people would "definitely" or "probably" support an organisation which works against political and religious extremism. One extremely positive view emerged from the research, which stated that over 60 per cent of people felt that these problems in society could be addressed by positive, locally-based campaigning.

Within the Jewish community this view was even more strongly held, and, as ever, English Jews recognise the need to take a proactive stance to tackle the politics of hate and division before they take hold.

It will not surprise you that I agree with the latter sentiment and I look forward to working with you up and down the country to make sure that the politics of fear are defeated by those of hope.

Nick Lowles is chief executive of Searchlight Educational Trust

    Last updated: 12:34pm, March 3 2011