The British Public’s Trust in the Political System
The British public’s trust in the political system has fallen significantly since the pandemic, potentially as a result of recent ongoing political scandals, according to a report from a leading thinktank.
Just 6% of the public have full trust in the current political system, while 89% support constitutional reform, the report found.
The survey of 8,000 people, conducted by Focaldata for the Institute for Public Policy Research, highlights support for democratic reform is strongest in the UK’s former industrial heartlands, including the “red wall” constituencies.
The data shows more than 90% of people in the former Labour safe seat of Burnley support democratic and constitutional reform.
Reasons for Falling Trust in Politics
Harry Quilter-Pinner, the director of research and engagement at the IPPR, and one of the authors of the report, said: “People are still very much in favour of democracy as the best form of government but in practice, they find our politics are lacking. They find that our politics basically fails to live up to those principles [of democracy].
“Trust in politics is low and has declined quite significantly since Covid 19, potentially as a result of some of the ongoing political scandals we’ve seen in politics. People feel that politics and parliament fails to represent them properly and deliver on the promises that politicians make at election time.”
Support for Reform and Regional Variations
The survey shows that only one in three trust parliament to fulfil its core function of acting in the best interests of the electorate across the UK and subsequently an overwhelming majority support reform.
Of those surveyed, 31% said the current system needed “completely” reforming, 26% backed reform “to a large extent” and a further 32% favoured “some” reform. Only 6% of the 8,000 people surveyed said the system did not need change.
There were regional variations between the constituencies, with Altrincham and Sale West recording one of the lowest levels of confidence in the current political system, coming in at just 4.9%.
More broadly speaking, the survey has shown that people living in the north of England or in south Wales are most likely to support change, with distrust of the current system higher among those on lower incomes or with fewer educational qualifications.
Desire for Significant Change and Democratic Reform
Quilter-Pinner said: “Democratic disengagement and disenfranchisement of the current political system is strongly correlated to things like income and education. So people with lower levels of income and low levels of education are less satisfied with our democracy and they are more supportive of democratic reform.
“We also found a geographical variation where some parts of the country are particularly likely to support democratic reform, and those include former industrial heartlands, including former vulnerable seats and also places like Wales and those places further from Westminster.
“People are fed up with the way that we’re governed. They’re fed up with the way that the system disadvantages them in their communities. And they want significant change and democratic reform. And as part of that package, whether that’s devolution, shifting voting systems and getting rid of things like hereditary peers in the House of Lords, they see this as part of taking back control of a system that has disadvantaged and disempowered them for too long.”