Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown helped seal his 2010 electoral defeat after a live mic caught him calling an elderly voter a “bigot” (in reaction to a bigoted statement said voter had made about Eastern European immigration).
Now, a new study by the British Sociological Association scientifically validates that Britons, in fact, are among the most xenophobic people in Europe – second only to Greeks. Rating their perception of immigration on a scale of 0-10, Britons from the governing Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition reported averages of 4.4 (for Conservatives) and 5.9 (for Lib Dems). Voters supporting the opposition Labour Party rated immigrants at a 4.9.
Nonetheless, the study concluded, British attitudes toward immigration softened in direct relation to their exposure to eastern Europeans. Researcher Anne-Marie Jeannet, of the University of Oxford, explained that,
“This may be because Central and Eastern Europeans are not physically dissimilar to the natives in Western Europe. Furthermore, they share a certain general European norms and values. Given the similar shared characteristics, the findings of this study may not be applicable to migrant groups with greater cultural differences.”