New voters ‘far more accepting of Britain’s diversity’

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Young people set to vote for the first time in 2015 are more accepting of Britain being ethnically diverse than those aged over 60, a new survey has shown.

Nearly three quarters of first-time voters told a survey for think-tank British Future that they were comfortable with the UK being more diverse than it was 20 years ago, compared with a third of over-60s.

British Future said the figures suggest support for extreme right-wing groups like the English Defence League and British National Party will fade over time.

However, the findings do not sit well with research from the NatCen British Social Attitudes survey for 2013, released on Wednesday, which showed that nearly a third of Britons described themselves as either “very” or “a little” prejudiced against people of other races.

Despite this, and major gains for far-right groups across Europe in last week’s elections, the think-tank staged a “funeral for fascism” procession down London’s Cable Street.

A horse-drawn hearse carried a coffin, with flowers reading “RIP Fascism”, to Wilton’s Music Hall in the East End.

British Future said the demonstration was to celebrate the BNP’s loss of all its seats in last week’s elections in the UK.

British Future’s director Sunder Katwala said: “The far right have never secured mass appeal in this country because they never shed off the jackboot image.

“Young people have grown up in modern, diverse Britain, and they’re comfortable with what they see.

“Angry men with far-right views who want to kick out their friends and neighbours hold no appeal to them. Fascism, as a political force, is a thing of the past.”

Elsewhere in the survey, asked to rate the impact of immigration on Britain, a third of first-time voters, that is 17 to 21-year-olds eligible to vote in next year’s election, gave a very positive score – twice as many as the 16 per cent who rated the impact as negative.

For over-60s, 40 per cent rated the impact of immigration with the lowest score, with just eight per cent feeling positive about its effect.