A new report by Matt Warman MP, ‘Who Governs Britain?’, sheds light on the huge disconnect between the public and the political system. With a maximum of only 9% of Britons placing significant faith in any layer of government to do the right thing by them, this is truly a crisis of confidence in our democracy.
Polling of more than 2,000 UK adults by research company Deltapoll shows public awareness of and faith in elected officials is appallingly low, fuelling a feeling of powerlessness that risks damaging mainstream politics. It clearly sets out the problems facing politicians who need to engage the public in their ideas if they are to truly govern by consent.
The starkest findings include:
Even the biggest issue of the day does not escape the public’s ignorance. 15% of people did not know we are still members of the European Union – and 19% of 18- to 24-year olds believe the UK has already left it.
One potential reason for this lack of faith in elected officials is the lack of contact many have with those they seek to represent. When asked if they had had contact with an elected representative, a huge majority said no. In fact, 74% had not had contact from their MP, and only slightly more had heard from district, county, or borough councils, with 65% reporting no contact at all.
The report is the latest from the CPS’ New Generation programme, which provides a platform for members of the 2015 and 2017 intakes of MPs and other new voices.
In his Foreword to the report, the Rt Hon David Lidington MP said:
“The stark polling results [this paper] sets out show that too many people simply don’t know where power sits, or have faith in the people at all tiers of government who discharge it. Whatever party you are in, that should be troubling.
“If individuals feel less powerful and less connected to their elected representatives, we must take steps to understand why - and take steps to change it - or risk lasting damage to mainstream politics.”
Matt Warman MP said:
“It’s clear from this polling that people do not feel properly represented by those in power.
“A situation where over a quarter of people are unaware that Members of Parliament make laws that affect them is very worrying for democracy.
“If we are to truly govern by consent, this must change, I believe the proposals put forward in this report will be starting point for this action.”
Robert Colvile, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said:
“This new polling illustrates the extraordinary size of the problem our politicians are facing.
“Given the level of media coverage around the Brexit negotiations, the fact that 19% of the young adults we surveyed thought we’d already left the EU is frankly astounding.
“The British people are simultaneously sceptical of government and largely ignorant about it. That is hardly a recipe for a healthy democracy.”
For further information, or to book Centre for Policy Studies spokesmen, please contact the Centre for Policy Studies Press Office on 07741 642251 (calls only) or email [email protected].
NOTES TO EDITORS