Focus on immigration: either too much or too little

December 18, 2014, 10:20 AM GMT+0

All the political parties are seen as either focusing too much or not enough on immigration

As Ed Miliband made a long-awaited speech on immigration on Monday, claiming there was “no doubting” how seriously Labour would deal with the issue, a document leaked by the Daily Telegraph revealed the party was telling canvassers to “move the conversation” away from immigration. “When we embark on policy messaging around immigration… we should ensure that this messaging is always done in conjunction with other policy areas. The purpose of this is to raise the salience of those issues in which Labour has a much clearer lead and stands to benefit more from their prominence with the electorate”, it said.

New YouGov research finds that in the eyes of voters none of the parties are seen as having got the balance right on immigration – only 26% believe that any of Labour, the Conservatives and UKIP have managed this – while most people (55%) say that UKIP focuses on immigration too much.

More say that Labour talk about it too little (45%) than say this of the Conservatives (34%), but then fewer say Labour talk about it too much (11%) compared to the Tories (25%).

The finding highlights the complexity of immigration as an issue - although voters are highly concerned about it, they do not always respond well to it being the focus of political campaigns.

Election talk

Immigration is narrowly seen as the issue voters would like politicians to talk about the most between now and May 2015 (by 50%), however 48% say the NHS should be the main priority.

There is a considerable gap between the issues voters would like politicians to base their election campaign on and what they expect them actually to focus on. The greatest deficit is on living standards: 25% say the parties should talk about them the most, but only 8% expect they will. And there is a significant deficit on the higher priority issue of the NHS: 48% say there should be a great deal of discussion, 35% say there will be

The mismatch goes the other way on the European Union, tax and economic growth, however, with more expecting politicians to talk about these issues than say they want them to.

See the full poll results

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