Freefall: how a year of chaos has undermined trust in politics
IPPR Harry Quilter-Pinner
The public’s trust in politicians has fallen by nine percentage points in just 18 months, as two thirds of British voters now believe that they are “merely out for themselves”, according to new research commissioned by IPPR.
A YouGov survey of over 1,700 adults in Britain shows that 66 per cent of the public believe that politicians are only out for themselves. Last November 63 per cent held this view, while in May 2021 it was 57 per cent.
The drop of nine percentage points in the last 18 months is a quick acceleration of the growing distrust in politicians. For comparison, it took seven years for the previous drop of nine percentage points, and 42 years before that.
Only 4 per cent of the public believe politicians are doing their best for the country, while 19 per cent think that politicians prioritise their party.
Voters across the political spectrum are united in their distrust; 67 per cent of remain voters, 68 per cent of leave voters, 64 per cent of Conservative voters and 69 per cent of Labour voters believe that politicians are merely out for themselves.
A decrease in trust in politicians is profoundly disturbing as it is linked to long term damaging consequences for democracy, such as:
Further recent polling by IPPR shows that citizens increasingly feel they lack representation and voice in how society is governed. Four in five people in Britain say politicians poorly understand their lives, and only six per cent of people in Great Britain said voters have the greatest sway over public policy compared to one in two who said political donors, businesses and lobbying groups do.
The Institute is calling for reforms to rebuild trust in politics, including: