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Are Ukip Supporters Intolerant? Another Look

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A couple of days ago I took a look at intolerance among UKIP supporters. I've received quite a lot of responses to this, and I'd like to follow up on a few issues this has prompted me to think about.

Firstly, let's look again at racism. My blog's title - Are UKIP Racist? - was provocative, though it reflects the focus of much of the debate on this issue. The data I looked at showed that racist views were somewhat more common among UKIP supporters, the vast majority - 80% or more - did not support racist statements in the survey I analysed. So while a minority of UKIP supporters are racist, the majority are not.

Racism, however, is not the only form of intolerance. But what do we mean by intolerance anyway? My original article wasn't very clear on this. The OED defines tolerance as "the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with." Its not ideal that the definition of tolerance also uses the word 'tolerance', but you get the idea. By this definition, an intolerant person is one unwilling to put up with people, views or opinions they do not like or agree with. Let's take a look again at the views I canvassed in examining whether Ukip are 'intolerant':

Immigration: Ukip supporters were more likely to support a complete ban on immigration, and to support government efforts to deport immigrants. UKIP supporters are thus less willing to support the existence in Britain of a group - immigrants - whose views or behaviour they dislike, which would meet the dictionary definition of 'intolerance'.

Ukip supporters are also more likely to falsely attribute negative behaviour to immigrants as a group - holding them responsible for 'most crime' and agreeing with the view that they 'jump the queue for council housing'. Neither has any basis in evidence: the vast majority of crime is NOT committed by immigrants, and immigration has not been responsible for a rise in crime Migrant status provides no advantage to council housing claimants who are, in any event, under-represented among council tenants. This stereotyping of immigrants is not quite the dictionary definition of 'intolerance', but I think most people would concede it meets the popular understanding. If someone said "most Spaniards are lazy" or "most Irish are drunks" we would not think they were demonstrating a tolerant world-view.

Islam: Ukip supporters were more likely to agree that 'Islam poses a serious danger to Western civilization' and to be bothered by the construction of a mosque in their neighbourhood (84% would be bothered, 64%). The first probably does not meet the strict definition of intolerance - one may regard a group as threatening while still being willing to put up with it. The latter, though, seems pretty clearly a form of intolerance: the majority of Ukip supporters are agreeing that they would be seriously annoyed by the provision of religious worship facilities for a different religious group in their local area, even though such provision is likely to do them no harm at all. This does not suggest much willingness to put up with people holding different views.

Homosexuality: I did not discuss this in the original article, but given the recent statements by a Ukip candidate for parliament describing gay adoption as a form of child abuse. Our survey asked voters their views about civil partnerships. Here, as elsewhere, Ukip supporters were more negative than any other party except the BNP - 41% opposed civil partnerships, higher than all the mainstream parties and nearly twice the sample average. This is dictionary definition intolerance: such legal recognition does no harm at all to heterosexual individuals, and yet four in 10 Ukip supporters are unwilling to put up with its existence, or to offer legal recognition to a group with different views or behaviour from their own.

My original article was pretty muddy about what intolerance meant. Here, I have applied a crystal clear standard. And, consistently, the finding is clear: UKIP supporters are less tolerant than supporters of mainstream parties. Less tolerant of immigrants. Less tolerant of Muslims. Less tolerant of gays. They are more tolerant than the BNP, but I am not sure that 'more tolerant than the BNP' is a slogan Nigel Farage will be keen to run on.

Ps If you want to see the full figures comparing Ukip supporters to those of other parties, you can find them here. The relevant table is on page 35.

The report by Matthew Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans, from which I drew the data on Mosques, is also freely available here