Public attitude towards politics worsening, says Hansard survey

House of Commons Hansard said the public's view of the coalition government was "worrying"

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The public are "disgruntled, disillusioned and disengaged" with politics, according to an annual survey by the Hansard Society.

Interviews with 1,163 people found that only 42% were interested in politics - down from 58% last year and the lowest since the survey began nine years ago.

Only 24% believe the current system of coalition government is working.

The number of people volunteering has fallen from 29% in 2010 to 21%, despite David Cameron's Big Society project.

The political engagement audit is carried out annually by Hansard.

'Momentous year'

The society said "the public's growing sense of indifference to politics" had "hardened into something more serious".

The survey found that:

  • 42% of people said they were interested in politics - down 16% on 2010 and the lowest figure since the audit was first carried out
  • 48% of people said they would definitely vote if a general election was called tomorrow - down 10% from last year and again, the lowest figure in the audit's history
  • 30% said they were unlikely or absolutely certain not to vote - up 10% from 2010
  • 24% of people believe the current system of coalition government is working "reasonably well" - a fall of 7%
  • 56% agree their involvement in politics locally could bring about change, but only 38% actually want to be involved

The audit also uncovered variations in attitudes according to political party allegiance.

While just 29% of Liberal Democrat supporters thought the coalition was working well - down 4% from last year - 56% of Conservatives were happy with it, a rise of 10%.

Dr Ruth Fox, director of the Hansard Society's parliament and government programme, said: "2011 was one of the most turbulent and momentous years in recent history, but it appears that the economic crisis, the summer riots and phone hacking did not lead to any greater interest in or knowledge of politics.

"The public seem to be disgruntled, disillusioned and disengaged. Thus far, coalition politics does not appear to have been good for public engagement.

"Worryingly, only a quarter of the population are satisfied with our system of governing, which must raise questions about the long-term capacity of that system to command public support and confidence in the future."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    If politicians make a slip in an interview they get ridiculed, if they admit to doubt or uncertainty they get called weak, if they admit a mistake or that something is not what they thought pre-election they get slated for breaking promises. If we don't want career politicians, we shouldn't expect them to present a perfect public image all the time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    Democracy is a wonderful system, but it's not the answer to everything. What's more important is that we have a strong government which is prepared to take difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions in the national interest when they believe it is right to do so. So long as they can command the confidence of the public at an election once every 5 years, I have no problems with the current system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    Most average Britons feel disengaged with politics, because every year it feels like picking the best of a bad bunch. There are very few inspiring politicians in the UK, and given the disproportionate number of privately educated and wealthy-background MP's, it's little wonder noone can associate to them.
    As Billy Connolly said "The desire to be a politician should bar you from ever being one".

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    Today's politics is based on soundbites and what will please specific groups of voters at election time. The identikit politicians won't make long-term plans for the country - if it involves pain in the first 5yrs they are voted out. This is no way to run a country and results in a disenfranchised people, with no clear strategy or direction for the country over a longer term.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    The problem is many-fold. We want politicians with conviction yet we fail to accept that people make mistakes - only "safe" politicians survive the scrutiny.

    We want sensible debate in parliament, yet support a FPTP system which advocates black/white politics. The coalition dilutes the power of the PM to just have his way which promotes compromise yet people are still unhappy with this.


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