Britain’s vote to leave the EU has been endlessly characterised as the moment that xenophobia, racism and any kind of hatred became acceptable in the UK again.
The implication is that Brexit voters are all closet racists, and that winning the argument on Europe unleashed their bigotry for all to see.
However, that pernicious assumption has been debunked by a study into online abuse that found no link between voting Leave and a number of prejudices.
They plotted a correlation between various types of abuse – including racism, misogyny and homophobia – and political positions including voting to Leave:
The authors of the report admit that the result surprised them – and suggest that the real picture is “more nuanced” than much of the media suggests:
Interestingly, “Voting ‘Yes’ to leaving the EU” at county level was not a reliable predictor of hate speech, including racial intolerance.
This follows mainstream news reports of increases in hate crime following the referendum2 and suggests that varying attitudes within each county make for a more nuanced picture of attitudes to race and nationality across the UK.
The study also found that Tory voters and members of UKIP – often also maligned as bigots – also displayed no special predilection towards hate speech.
A very good exposé on the post-Brexit hate crime myth. https://t.co/ewpuySpmdD
— Tom Maynes (@TomMaynes) October 8, 2016
Indeed, ‘Kippers had a negative correlation with racism, while professed Conservative voters had negative correlations with every type of prejudice listed.
The study, alas, did not record incidents of antisemitism, which Heat Street would be eager to see plotted against support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.