Apathy? Alienation? How 'disengaged' four in ten voters reject ALL parties
Anti-sleaze watchdog that commissioned research believes findings pose worrying questions about future of democracy in Britain
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 15 November 2013
Four in 10 people are "alienated" from Britain's political parties and say they will not consider voting for any of them, according to new research.
Young adults are even more "disengaged" from the party system, with 46 per cent of under-30s saying "none of the above" when presented with a list of the parties. Although the polling does not mean people are apathetic about politics, the anti-sleaze watchdog which commissioned it believes the findings pose worrying questions about the future of democracy in Britain.
Surprisingly, the survey suggests public scepticism is not confined to the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats but extends to the smaller parties likely to win "protest votes". People were given the option of choosing the three main parties; the UK Independence Party, the Green Party, the British National Party, Respect, another un-named party; no party or saying "don't know." The survey of 1,900 people was carried out by TNS-BRMB for the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
Lord (Paul) Bew, the crossbench peer who chairs the committee, told The Independent today: "One particular cause for concern from the research is the number of people, especially young people, who feel disconnected from the political system and political parties."
He said the growth in the size of this group over the last 10 years represents a real challenge to politicians, parties, local organisations and community groups to provide the public with a sufficiently attractive and relevant set of options to choose from. However, Lord Bew added: " Public perception is not static - it can improve in response to events in the public sphere. That requires public office holders to be seen to be demonstrating the seven principle of public life - selflessness, accountability, objectivity, integrity, honesty and leadership."
In its summary of the findings, the committee, said that for the 40 per cent "disconnected" or "alienated" from party politics "hold sceptical or deeply sceptical perceptions of standards and do not trust those in public life." It warned that "an entrenched political disenchantment…appears to have acquired a growing foothold in the British public" and recommended further research into whether this "harbours the potential for rejection of the system of representative democracy and for democratic norms."
There are fears that the alienation could result in a record low turnout at the 2015 general election. The lowest recorded was 57 per cent in 1918, due to the end of the First World War. Between 1922 and 1997, turnout remained above 70 per cent. At the 2001 election, it was 59 per cent, rising to 61 per cent in 2005 and 65 per cent in 2010.
The latest monthly ComRes poll for The Independent shows older people are much more likely to vote. Only 34 per cent of 18-24 year-olds say they are absolutely certain to vote at the next election, rising to 41 per cent of 25-34 year-olds; 46 per cent of 35-44 year-olds; 56 per cent of 45-54 year-olds; 61 per cent of 55-64 year-olds and 68 per cent of those aged 65 and over.
Andrew Hawkins, the chairman of ComRes, said: "The evidence all points to people being turned off by the traditional party system. This firstly became apparent because of the decline in party memberships, and is now demonstrated in lower turnout and broadening of the spread of parties outside the main ones which people will support. But it is not a straightforward question of young people being more cynical than older age groups. Older people are more likely than young people to think politicians are too reckless about how they spend taxpayers' money and to think they don't have principles any more. It seems that the traditional ways for parties to connect with people, and the young in particular, are failing."
- 1 Technology company Alibaba posts job advert asking for 'stunning' women with qualities of adult film actress Sora Aoi
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...
£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...