Membership of the British National Party (BNP) is higher where whites and non-whites live separately in segregated areas, research has found.
Oxford University academics used the BNP database posted on WikiLeaks that contained 12,000 members' details and then matched them with census data on more than 200,000 neighbourhoods in Britain to make the findings.
Whites are more likely to belong to the BNP in a highly segregated city such as Bradford where just under a quarter (22%) of the population is non-white, compared with a well-integrated area such as Brent in London where more than half (55%) of the population is non-white, they found.
The research discovered that whites are less likely to belong to the BNP where they have a substantial proportion of non-white neighbours.
When the non-white category was divided into ethnic groups, BNP support was higher in towns and cities where British Asians lived rather than Black British. When religion was analysed, BNP membership responded primarily to Muslim communities.
BNP membership was found to be higher in areas with lower education levels and with more self-employed people and small business owners. Membership was also higher where people live in overcrowded housing and rent from private landlords, rather than owning their own properties or living in council houses.
White people were also more likely to belong to the BNP in Labour constituencies, the research claimed. Whites might perceive a political threat from concentrated non-white communities, with Labour being perceived as favouring minorities, the researchers said.
Dr Michael Biggs, a sociologist at the University of Oxford, carried out the research with a graduate student, Steve Knauss.
Dr Biggs suggested that some white people felt threatened by segregated minority communities. Close contact among neighbours, however, broke down racial prejudice.
The research, surprisingly, found that higher unemployment actually reduced the probability of BNP membership. This finding suggested that economic competition is less of a threat than cultural difference when people decided to join the party.
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