Disconnect between the public and the political system highlighted

A new report has found that 40 per cent of people have no trust at all in the House of Commons, emphasising the huge disconnect between the public and the political system.

Polling of more than 2,000 UK adults by research company Deltapoll for the Centre for Policy Studies finds that 40 per cent of those questioned had no trust at all in the House of Commons, and that only 71 per cent of respondents understood that MPs make laws affecting them. With a maximum of only nine per cent of Britons placing significant faith in any layer of government to do the right thing by them, the Centre says that this is ‘truly a crisis of confidence in our democracy’.

When asked if they had had contact with an elected representative, 74 per cent of people had not had contact from their MP, and only slightly more had heard from district, county, or borough councils, with 65 per cent reporting no contact at all.

David Lidington MP, who authors the accompanying New Generation programme report, 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.”

Robert Colvile, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “The new polling illustrated the scale of the challenge facing our politicians. We desperately need policies to bring politicians and the public closer together – to bridge the gap between those who make our laws and the ordinary people they affect. This is particularly true of the planning system. In particular, Matt Warman’s proposals to give local communities have more control of development, and see clearer benefits from it, could decrease opposition to much-needed house-building.”

“Given the level of media coverage around the Brexit negotiations, the fact that 19 per cent 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.”

The Who Governs Britain report can be viewed here.