No, 75 Percent of Leave Voters Don't Believe Feminism is a Force for Ill

Only 23 percent do.


Isabel Infantes/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Lots of interesting data on Leave and Remain voters from Lord Ashcroft that made the Internet rounds yesterday. One portion of the data, on voters' feelings toward things like multiculturalism, feminism, the Internet, and capitalism as "forces for good" or "forces for ill," was particularly interesting. 81 percent of people who believed multiculturalism was a force for ill, for example, voted Leave.

The polling led to some confusion. Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, for example, tweeted that "around 75 to 80 percent" of Leavers believed multiculturalism, social liberalism, immigration, and feminism were "a force for ill," based on large majorities of people who opposed those things being Leave voters, which is what Ashcroft's data showed.

The proportion of people who oppose something who vote a certain way is different than the proportion of people who vote a certain way who oppose something. So while 81 percent of people who believe multiculturalism is a force for ill voted Leave in Ashcroft's survey, just 47 percent of Leave voters believe multiculturalism is a force for ill. The difference is even more stark with feminism. While 80 percent of people who oppose feminism voted Leave, just 23 percent of Leave voters oppose feminism.

Here's a breakdown of all the numbers*:

Text added to visualization from

The percentage of Leave voters who believe immigration is a force for ill is the most troubling, given that Leave campaigners, particularly on the Labor side but also Conservative leaders like Boris Johnson, have argued that leaving the European Union will allow Britain to have a less "discriminatory" immigration policy that would permit more immigrants from Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, 12 percent of Remain voters believed multiculturalism was a force for ill. For social liberalism, the number was 10 percent, 9 percent for feminism, 9 percent for the Green movement, 15 percent for globalization, 3 percent for the Internet, 30 percent for capitalism, and 17 percent for immigration.

The chart above stuck with me because of the numbers on capitalism. One of the most important benefits of the European Union was the guarantee of the relative freedom of movement of people, capital, goods, and services. If Britain were split on capitalism, Remain would appear more of an endorsement of the bureaucracy surrounding the EU than the freedom of movement it's helped to protect. In fact, just 29 percent of Brits believed capitalism was a "force for ill," still a troubling number suggesting a massive failure by the British and European educational system in educating about the economic system that's brought the prosperity that made the EU possible in the first place.

See the raw data here (PDF)

*A previous version of this chart had higher percentages on the right side because I neglected to take into account those who considered these things "mixed blessings."