Whilst being aware that Ed Miliband has delivered a speech on immigration in which he attempted to look ‘concerned’ at the same time as he extolled the ‘virtues’ of the transformation that mass immigration has wrought in our country in recent years, I shall leave my thoughts on its content until a later post. This evening, it is instead time to look at the results of a poll opened up to blog readers a fortnight ago on the so-called ‘Muslim Education Centre’ that has been given planning permission to open in the village of Shotton Colliery.
As of this evening, the article on the EDL protest at Shotton Colliery on Saturday 1 December had attracted 1,537 page views, but only 134 visitors to the blog felt moved to participate in the associated poll. Regular readers will be aware that although many who visit the blog do so because they find its content broadly to their taste, quite a few most certainly do not. Given that the sample for this poll is self-selecting, it is completely unscientific and I will thus not seek to draw any wide-ranging conclusions from it other than the fact that it will provide a reasonably accurate gauge of readers’ feelings relating to this issue over the past fortnight.
The poll itself posed a question – ‘What do you think of Shotton Colliery’s proposed ‘Muslim Education Centre’?’ – which was followed by a number of statements that respondents could either agree with or ignore. Each respondent could participate in the poll only once, but multiple answers could be ticked.
The two questions that opened the poll revealed strong opposition to the centre, which was not a surprise: ‘I oppose it’ – 96 votes (71%); ‘I support it’ – 16 votes (11%). The remaining statements are ranked below in order of their popularity:
- MP Grahame Morris should publicly condemn the proposed centre – 56 votes (41%).
- It is intended to pave the way for a larger Muslim population in Shotton Colliery – 53 votes (39%).
- We need a political party to back us in our campaign against this centre – 46 votes (34%).
- Its backers wish to use it to convert people to Islam – 44 votes (32%).
- I am willing to campaign against the centre – 37 (27%).
- I am willing to campaign for the centre – 6 votes (4%).
It was interesting to see that so many respondents thought that the local MP ought to come out against the centre and make a public statement to that effect, when in fact he has done precisely the opposite. If these 53 respondents could all write to Grahame Morris asking him to make such a public condemnation, whilst highlighting that they, their families and friends would not consider voting for him unless he did so, this could cause the MP something of a headache, although in all likelihood it would prompt him to issue a statement condemning ‘far-right’ agitators in his constituency.
Well over a third of respondents think that one of the centre’s functions will be to pave the way for an increase in the size of the village’s Muslim population, and just over a third want a political party to help campaign against the centre’s presence. Only marginally less – 32% - think that another core function of the centre will be to seek to convert locals, yet despite a strong sense of opposition towards this development only 27% of respondents stated that they are willing to actively campaign against it. The only small crumb of comfort that they can glean in this respect is that a mere 4% of the sample would be willing to campaign on its behalf.
Overall therefore, readers do not wish to see a ‘Muslim Education Centre’ in Shotton Colliery and instead would like local political figures to take a lead in opposing it, which is unlikely to happen. However, as in any such instance, only a certain proportion of those who hold such views are willing and/or able to become actively involved in making their opposition known. As for the comments attendant upon the Shotton Colliery protest article, it was often difficult to divine whether a number of them were genuine or had been fabricated by troublemakers, and there was a lack of clarity with respect to the identities of some of the commenters who posted anonymously, which made it difficult to know whether or not comments should be retained or removed owing to disputed ‘identities’. As we are fast approaching the festive season it is to be assumed that the next protest in the village will not take place until some point in 2013, and if another such protest does take place, what angle will its organisers choose to take, and what, if any, prospect of success will lie before it?