Fear and HOPE 2019 – Introduction

Welcome to Fear and HOPE 2019 the latest in our on-going analysis of British society and the attitudes of its citizens. We commissioned this report…

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Chapter : Fear and HOPE 2019 – Introduction

Welcome to Fear and HOPE 2019 the latest in our on-going analysis of British society and the attitudes of its citizens.

We commissioned this report because we were keen to explore how Brexit, and the fact that we were still in the EU after the date that we were meant to have left, had affected us. We wanted to know how the Brexit debate had changed our political and cultural allegiances, whether it was a simple case of Remain and Leave or – as we suspected – there were sub-groups within each of these.

Our first report was in 2011, and British society was still deeply traumatised by the economic crash and the beginning of austerity. Our follow- up February 2016 report reflected a country more at ease with itself – despite austerity, many people were feeling more economically secure and this reflected more relaxed attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism.

Our third report, in July 2016, was conducted just after Britain voted to leave the European Union and reflected a complete change in attitudes. Those who had been most angry in our February 2016 report, and who voted most heavily to leave the EU, were now the most content. Those had had been content, and who voted most heavily to remain, were now the most angry and resentful. Brexit had polarised Britain.

Fear and HOPE 2017 found this polarisation had continued and, if anything, had deepened. An increasing number of people were more tolerant and open to immigration and multiculturalism, but a quarter of society remained firmly opposed – and their views were hardening. 

The findings in this new report today are clear: Brexit has changed Britain. Old allegiances and affiliations have been ripped up. The anger from social liberals that was so palpable in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU Referendum has been replaced by frustration and anger from Brexiteers at our failure to leave.

A hole in the EU flag with Big Ben appearing visibly in the background

Because of these changes we decided that our previous Fear and HOPE identity tribe segmentation, breaking down society into six groupings (ranging from more liberal to more

hostile views), was no longer sufficient. Just as Brexit had driven a coach and horses through our traditional political allegiances, so it had also altered our cultural and identity identities.

This new report now identifies seven distinct groups in society, as opposed to the six in our previous studies. Two of these new groups are positive toward immigration and multiculturalism, and both are strongly Remain. Then there are two who are deeply hostile to immigration and multiculturalism, though one is more driven by Brexit than the other.

The group that is not as driven by Brexit is in turn more hostile to immigration and Muslims, and also much more pessimistic about life and the future, as well as more relaxed about violence. This is the group where the supporters of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon are most likely to be found. 

Demonstrators protest against an increase in post-ref racism at London's March for Europe in July 2016
Demonstrators protest against an increase in post-ref racism at London’s March for Europe in July 2016. Credit: Press Association

We believe that our new seven tribe segmentation will make this report more useful for understanding British society today.

In another departure from our earlier reports, this edition of Fear and HOPE draws on a much wider data set than we have used previously. While most of our report is based on a poll of 6,000 people we conducted in late April 2019, we have also drawn on over 15 other polls HOPE not hate has commissioned over the past months.

In addition, we have also drawn on other data analytics to help us interpret society, including the use of Multi-Level Regression with Poststratification (MRP) – a statistical technique for estimating public opinion in small geographic areas or sub-groups using national opinion surveys.

The culmination of this polling and advanced data analysis is perhaps the most comprehensive study of opinion in Britain today.

As with previous reports, this study will help guide our work over the next couple of years. It will help us target the communities most at threat from extremism, deliver the most appropriate message and highlight areas where further research is required. We are also keen to make this data available to our partners and friends so they too can use it to improve their own work.

In an increasingly complex world, understanding the society around us will massively help our ability to engage in it.


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