Exclusive: Only one in seven voters feel well served by the UK’s political system

People want sleaze tackled, House of Lords reform and a proportional electoral system

Palace of Westminster

Just one in seven voters feel well served by the UK’s political system, Left Foot Forward can exclusively reveal. The stark findings come from an opinion poll undertaken by Opinium and commissioned by campaign group Unlock Democracy.

When asked how well or badly they feel served by the UK’s political system, just 14 per cent of respondents said that they felt very well or quite well served. By contrast, 56 per cent said they felt quite badly or very badly served. 25 per cent said they felt neither well or badly served. A further 6 per cent said they didn’t know.

The polling comes as Unlock Democracy, together with Compass, has written to former prime minister Gordon Brown – currently chair of the Labour Party’s constitutional commission – calling on him to push for the inclusion of democratic reforms in the next Labour manifesto.

Reflecting on the poll’s revelation that people do not feel well served by the current political system, their letter reads, “This hasn’t happened overnight – it has been brewing for some time. It isn’t specific to who is in Government, it is about how our Government and our politics is working in practice. Overwhelmingly people think it isn’t working for them.”

It continues by arguing for “deep, structural” changes to the political system. The letter reads, “Change has to be deep, structural and cultural, based not on the interests of any one person or group but on the long term good of the country. Fundamentally it must pass power to people – not just because this is morally right but because it is the only way our country can negotiate a future in which we meet and overcome the huge challenges we face – such as climate and the cost of living.”

In their letter, Unlock Democracy and Compass set out a series of reforms to the political system they believe would deliver this. They call for the Labour Party to include a “programme of necessary democratic reforms” in its next manifesto, including a proportional voting system, reform of the House of Lords, and mechanisms to tackle sleaze and cronyism in Westminster.

Both groups argue that the polling they commissioned illustrates the popularity of this as a platform for reform. Opinium also asked the public to select two reforms to the political system that they believe would make a positive difference to them from a list of five options. People’s top choice was introducing rules to tackle sleaze and cronyism in Westminster, followed by replacing the House of Lords with an elected chamber, and changing the electoral system to proportional representation.

Support for tackling sleaze and corruption was found to be popular among those who voted for any of the three biggest parties in the 2019 general election, with over 40 per cent of each party’s supporters placing it in their top two. A proportional electoral system had the strongest backing among 2019 Lib Dem voters, 48 per cent of whom picked it as one of their top two reforms. 2019 Tory voters were more likely to support replacing the House of Lords with an elected chamber.

Opinium polled a representative sample of 2,017 adults living in Great Britain between 10-12 August 2022.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Diliff – Creative Commons

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