Ahead of the 75th anniversary this month of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush to Britain, the British Future think tank sought to gather a state of the nation’s attitudes on race, identity and prejudice. According to their polling, two-thirds (67%) of ethnic minority respondents said Black and Asian people face discrimination on a daily basis in Britain.
But when asked to say whether the UK is a better or worse place for people from an ethnic minority background to live compared with other major Western democracies like the USA, Germany and France, 80% of ethnic minority respondents said it is better.
The research came from Focal Data polling in March and April this year of almost 2,500 people – 1,000 from an ethnic minority background, 944 white people and a boosted sample of 300 black Caribbean respondents.
Among white British respondents, the split for the question on whether Britain is a better or worse place for people from an ethnic minority background to live was 73% to 27%. Almost half (48%) of white British respondents and 60% of ethnic minorities said they believe it is easier to “get on” in Britain if you are white.
More than half (56%) of people said the political and media debate has become more divisive and polarised, with two-thirds of people saying they would welcome a less heated debate about race in the country’s politics and society.
A majority of all groups agreed that it needs to make “much more progress on race in the next 25 years” – eight out of 10 ethnic minority respondents and almost two-thirds (64%) of the white British majority agreed on that.
The report also focused on awareness of Windrush, finding that only 55% were able to pick the ship’s name, which “has become symbolic of Commonwealth migration to Britain” from a list of four.
Almost three-quarters of people (74%) said they think children should be taught about Windrush in school. Among Black Caribbean respondents, 89% said they want children to learn about the Windrush story at school, with more than half (53%) saying this is very important.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future and co-author of the report, said in a statement committing to an “ambitious agenda for change in the quarter-century to come would be a fitting legacy” of the Windrush, with a focus on the progress still required on race in Britain.