Coronavirus: Hope not Hate warn of far-right risk

Hope not hate have warned that the rapid social changes wrought by the coronavirus crisis risk creating conditions ripe for a rise in far-right politics.

Fundamental changes in the way everyday life operates for millions of people in the UK have raised big questions of fear, trust, well-being and social cohesion, according to the campaign group, an atmosphere under which far-right groups often “survive and thrive, especially in communities suffering from economic insecurity, social uncertainty and institutional neglect”.

These concerns prompted the organisation’s charitable trust to carry out a series of polls into how people are reacting.

In summary, Hope not hate found that: “people’s lives have been turned upside down and many are worried about the impact of an economic downturn, but amidst the gloom hope is shining through as people rally to help their local communities.”

A more detailed analysis of the survey revealed the following:

  • People understand the scale of the coronavirus outbreak – they are taking the pandemic seriously – and don’t expect things to go back to normal anytime soon. 
    • Only 11% of people agree that the coronavirus is not as serious as the government and media makes it out to be, while 78% of people disagree.
    • Young people are now taking the crisis as seriously as older people. In the week before lockdown, our polling found that 30% of people aged 18-24 thought the coronavirus was not as serious as it was made out to be. In our most recent poll, that number has changed to just 13%.
    • Most people (69%) think that Coronavirus will cause huge long-term disruption to the British economy. Less than a third (31%) think that the disruption will be short term.
  • People are already feeling the economic impacts, but agree that protecting the health of everyone is more important than protecting the economy.
    • 41% of people are worried that they or someone in their household could lose their job as a consequence of the economic fallout from Coronavirus. This is down from 47% of people in the week prior to lockdown.
    • Most people want to protect the health of everyone in this country whatever the economic cost (88%). Only 12% of people think that it is essential to protect the economy of this country, even if it means more older people die.
  • People are more trusting in the political system and support for the Government’s response has increased, but people are still frustrated at the lack of progress on testing.
    • 64% of people say that they trust Boris Johnson and the Government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic appropriately, up from 50% in the week before the lockdown.
    • 76% of people think that the lack of Coronavirus testing has limited the Government’s ability to deal with the pandemic. This includes 70% of Conservative voters.
    • 46% think that the Government has been too slow in dealing with the Coronavirus – 35% of people think that the Government is blaming China to deflect from criticism that it dealt with the outbreak too slowly. Younger people, graduates and labour voters are all more likely to agree with this.
  • Finally, more people believe in an internationalist approach to deal with the virus – rejecting nationalist and protectionist politics – and while they are split over austerity, they want to maintain unemployment support post-pandemic.
    • 60% say that Coronavirus is best dealt with at an international level, 40% say a national response would be preferable.
    • A huge 78% of people think that the international community should create a $8bn fund to support the necessary research for a Coronavirus vaccine that will then be available to every country in the world. Just 5% disagree with this.
    • 79% agree that once the current lockdown is lifted, the Government should continue to give additional financial support to those who have lost their jobs.
    • 35% agree that once the current lockdown is lifted, the Government should cut public spending in order to reduce the public debt and balance its budget while 33% disagree.

Hope not hate are calling for more support for their work to make sense of our uncertain world.

“Our world is rapidly changing. To stop that being exploited by the far-right, we have to understand how people are responding.

“There is no silver bullet, but over the last 16 years HOPE not hate has been at the front of this fight – taking on the BNP, working in local communities and exposing violent far-right terrorism.”

Click here to donate to the Hope not hate action fund.