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Most Conservatives want more immigration, centre-right think tank tells David Cameron

Monday, 19 January 2015

Bright Blue said that being aggressive towards migrants coming to the UK risks putting off ethnic minority Tories who '"will be an important part of the Conservative Party's support base in the years ahead'.

Ethnic minorities will be crucial to future Conservative victories and the party's leader David Cameron should not be tempted to mimic the policies of the UK Independence Party at the election, a thinktank backed by senior Conservative ministers has found.

Most Tories are actually in favour of immigration according to a new report by Bright Blue, a left of centre Conservative thinktank, with voters wanting a well-managed immigration system rather than barring migrants from the UK altogether.

It warned that pursuing aggressive policies towards migrants coming to the UK risked putting off ethnic minority Tories who "will be an important part of the Conservative Party's support base in the years ahead".

Bright Blue is backed by senior Conservative ministers including Francis Maude, Nick Boles, George Freeman as well as Lord Cooper, a former senior adviser in 10 Downing Street to David Cameron.

The recommendations are made in a report - A Balanced Centre-Right Agenda On Immigration - published on Monday.

Polling carried out for Bright Blue by Survation, a polling company, found that fewer than one in six Tories - 15 per cent - thought that an ideal immigration system was one with fewer immigrants.

In contrast one in four Ukip supporters who held that view.

Ryan Shorthouse, a director of Bright Blue and co-author of the report said: “The Conservative Party will not win this General Election, and certainly not future ones, by sounding more negative about immigration and promising to clamp down more on immigration, than Ukip.”

Mr Shorthouse added that the Tory party “does not need to pursue mimicry (of Ukip) or muteness on immigration. Conservative voters have a reasonable and clear position: the primarily want an immigration system that is well-managed and welcoming of contributors”.

He added: “Conservatives are overwhelmingly positive about the contribution immigrants they know make to their local communities.

"Conservatives who are younger, more affluent, from an ethnic minority background and know migrants well are consistently more likely to be welcoming of different immigrants and positive about the impact of immigration.

“Most of these social groups will represent a larger part of the Conservative Party's support base in the years ahead.”

Twice as many Tory voters thought the best way to control immigration was to limit access to benefits, rather than cap numbers coming to the UK from outside the European Union, it found.

The report also said that 85 per cent of Conservatives did not want to see a reduction in the numbers of international students coming to the UK.

TheTories tended to be more opposed to the idea of immigration, but then developed "positive views" of "their experiences with immigrants they know".

Only a small proportion of Conservatives - just five per cent of those surveyed – had “lost a job or seen a fall in wages because of inflation”, it said.

The report said: “The evidence of the impact of immigration is still developing, but overall it supports the idea that immigration is largely economically beneficial to the UK, but bringing challenges.”

It added: “If managed correctly, immigration is both economically and culturally enriching.

“So it is necessary for the centre-right - represented mainly by the Conservative Party – to shape a a more positive and compelling vision on immigration and to construct a competent and fair immigration system that would capture the benefits, manage the challenges and reassure the public. This would serve the national interest.”

The Telegraph

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