New research from Ipsos MORI shows that the British public have become avowedly more open-minded in their attitudes towards race since the mid-2000s.
However, seven in ten still think there is at least a fair amount of tension in Britain between people of different races and nationalities, and there are concerns about inequalities in public services, the police and politics.
The vast majority, 89%, claim they would be happy for their child to marry someone from another ethnic group, and 70% strongly agree. This is an improvement from January 2009, when 75% said they would be happy overall, and 41% strongly.
Similarly, the vast majority (93%, nearly all of them strongly disagreeing at 84%) disagree with the statement that, “to be truly British you have to be White”. In October 2006, 82% disagreed, 55% strongly. The proportion who agree with the statement has fallen from 10% to 3% in the last 14 years.
However, seven in ten (69%) think there is at least a fair amount of tension in Britain between people of different races and nationalities (one in five – 20% – say there is a great deal of tension). However this is a slight improvement from April 2008 when 76% felt there was a fair amount of tension.
Just over four in ten, 45%, believe there is more racial tolerance in Britain today than there was ten years ago – very similar to the results when this question was asked in 2009. One in five think there is less racial tolerance than ten years ago (an improvement from 28% in 2009), while 31% think there has been little change (was 26% in 2009).
The majority, 67%, are broadly optimistic that in 10 years Britain will be a more diverse and tolerant place to live. This is a trend question wording from 2009, when 49% agreed they were optimistic, so we can measure how results change over time..
Half think that, generally speaking, Britain’s public services treat black (52%) and Asian (53%) people the same as white people. However, 33% believe that black people are treated worse, and 27% believe that Asian people are treated worse. Very few (4% and 7% respectively) think that black or Asian people are treated better than white people.
People were asked about the murder of Stephen Lawrence and subsequent inquiry, and whether they felt there would be similar failings if another police investigation such as that was carried out below. Four in ten (41%) agreed there would be similar failings, while 34% disagreed. This is slightly worse than when the question was asked in 2009, when 36% thought there would be failings in a police investigation, and 40% disagreed.
Just over one in three, 37%, believe that it is at least very likely that there will be a black, Asian or mixed race Prime Minister in the next 10-20 years, up from 21% in 2009. However, 40% think this is only fairly likely and 22% say it is not very likely or certain not to happen (although this had almost halved from 42% in 2009).