The majority of UK adults believe that recent anti-racism Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests actually deepened the nation’s racial divisions and increased tensions, a newly released poll has revealed.

Some 55 percent of Britons think that the BLM wave of anti-racist demonstrations backfired and exacerbated racial tensions, a newly released poll conducted in October by Opinium found, based on a survey of more than 2,000 people. 

Views on the controversial movement appear to also be split within ethnic minority groups, with 44 percent of people in those communities blaming BLM for intensifying the racial divide.

Only 17 percent of all respondents disagreed with the sentiment that the anti-racism movement had made matters worse. 

The movement’s organisers justified the numbers as merely showing that BLM has exposed existing issues in society. They noted parallel research which has shown sharp rises in the numbers of black Britons saying they had faced discrimination over the past year, the Guardian reported. That figure rose by seven percent in 2020, to 81 percent.

The statistics seem to mirror increased discrimination rates against Asian people, which were up from 68 percent to 76 percent this year – the rise coinciding with the Covid-19 virus originating in Wuhan, China. 

In demographic terms, the survey found white people were more likely to say the BLM protests had increased racial tensions – particularly Conservative voters, 78 percent of whom said it had a negative impact on race relations.

BLM spokesperson Adam Elliott-Cooper hit back against the survey, saying it was “misleading” to suggest that challenging racism increases racial tension. 

“Black Lives Matter hasn’t increased racial tension, in the same way as the civil rights movement in the US didn’t, or the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa didn’t,” he said, adding: “They haven’t increased racial tension, but they might have made it more apparent and exposed what is there.”

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