A new Chatham House report, which draws on YouGov research, challenges stereotypes about the English Defence League and the wider counter-Jihad network.
The report by Dr Matthew Goodwin, entitled “The Roots of Extremism: The English Defence League and the Counter-Jihad Challenge”, finds that widely held assumptions about counter-Jihad sympathisers may need to be reassessed. Contrary to widely held assumptions which trace support for counter-Jihad groups to the financial crisis, economic austerity and political isolation, our research for the report reveals that most respondents sympathetic of the EDL’s values are:
- Actively engaging in mainstream politics, and more likely than their fellow citizens to have voted at the last election
- Not more likely to be unemployed, dependent on social housing or motivated simply by economic insecurity
- Not necessarily young and uneducated. Less than a fifth (16%) of sympathisers in our sample are aged 18-29 years, and fewer than one in ten supporters has no qualifications whatsoever
- Not simply anti-Muslim and overtly racist, but xenophobic and profoundly hostile towards immigration
- More likely than the British public to expect inter-communal conflict and believe violence is justifiable and inevitable
YouGov’s Political and Social Research Manager Laurence Janta-Lipinski comments “This new research helps to shed light on an under-researched and poorly-understood group in British society. The report helps to answer some of the fundamental questions surrounding these groups and challenges some of the widely-held views on their demographic make-up, core concerns and potential support.”