Weekly survey: Just a third of LFF readers think the UK should take more refugees

Public opinion has seemed to change in the last week, but this isn't the whole picture

Migrants Syria


Yesterday David Cameron announced that the UK would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years – that will amount to about 12 a day over the course of the parliament.

In our latest poll we asked Left Foot Forward readers whether the UK should accept more refugees.


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Of 441 respondents, 151 (34 per cent) said yes, 276 (63 per cent) said no, and 14 (3 per cent) didn’t know.

The refugee crisis is a complex issue and it is difficult to properly gauge opinion with a yes/no question. There are many factors to consider: for example, does sending a message of acceptance encourage more people to make deadly sea crossings into Europe? How many of those who said ‘no’ are happy with the status quo, and how many would like to take less? Are there conditions attached to the ‘yes’ answers?

BBC Newsnight conducted a similar survey with ComRes this week, asking people by telephone their opinion on the number of Syrian and Libyan refugees the UK should admit. They found that 57 per cent of people were in favour of the status quo, or the government taking fewer refugees from Syria and Libya. 40 per cent said the UK should take more.

Meanwhile ComRes found that people who had seen the pictures of Aylan Kurdi were ‘considerably’ more likely to say the UK should take more refugees (44 per cent to 24 per cent).

This raises real questions as to how people form their opinions of refugees and how deeply rooted those opinions are. The images of Aylan Kurdi appear to have convinced a significant number of people that refugees are genuinely vulnerable rather than threatening.

David Cameron’s weak response to the crisis is indicative of the fact that there is still insufficient pressure from below. Over the past week, petitions to the government have seemed to signify a huge outpouring of public sympathy towards refugees, but this is clearly not the whole picture.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

9 Responses to “Weekly survey: Just a third of LFF readers think the UK should take more refugees”

  1. jj

    Strange, and this is LFF readers, who are far more likely to be all for more refugees when compared to the general population. It seems your numerous articles are at odds with public opinion?
    I’m all for taking in more refugees, and I think the governments stance on this issue is perfectly reasonable

  2. Cole

    Probably because only the right wing nutters who post comments here could be bothered to participate in the survey.

  3. C A

    Let the oil rich Arabs look after persecuted Muslims. Turkey can process them and we can make provision for them there. Let the Ummah look after them. The real vulnerable non-Muslims that have been decimated for years need can seek refuge here. That makes sense not a more Mohammeds and Ahmeds.

  4. Yvonne Lunde-andreassen

    what about the ones who have stayed in Syria, who cares about them ? raqqa-sl.com/en

  5. C A

    Thank you.

  6. Mike Stallard

    I do not agree with what the government is doing in a lot of things, but it has got this one completely right. Accepting lots and lots of Syrian and other refugees, young men on their gap year travelling the world (I have met them), people running away from modern Africa – does not make sense. A lot of them simply are not going to fit in. Much better to keep them in the place where they feel at home feed, educate and give medical succour there.
    I notice that the Germans, at the moment top of the “compassionate” league by a long way, are storing immigrants in what we would call reception centres. They are not all going to good homes by any stretch of the imagination. And they, being human, are creating a terrible backlash when the refugees realise they have been tricked.

  7. Mike Stallard

    “right wing nutters”.
    Well that’s sorted.

  8. John B Dick

    I live on an island in Argyll.

    Local politicians and churches here are gearing up to handle a significant influx. A hundred or so would not be a difficult challenge to housing schools or health. Our share of 20,000 over 5 years is 2.

    Over five years we could easily take a hundred times our share and they would hardly be noticed. Argyll could take the lot.

  9. Tom

    It would be a more difficult survey to do, but you should ask readers first to identify how many refugees they think Britain should take, and in a second question give the current figure. Otherwise you risk people having inaccurate notions of how many refugees we’re accepting.

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