03 June, 2024

The Growing Trust Crisis in UK Politics: Why Many Won’t Vote in the Next General Election

In a recent YouGov poll, 52% of British adults expressed their intention not to vote in the upcoming General Election, citing 'a lack of trust in politics generally' as their primary reason. This significant finding, reported in today's Metro newspaper underscores the deepening disillusionment with the political establishment, as revealed in the Trust and Citizens report published by the Sortition Foundation today.

Bar chart: Why would people not vote? Don't have trust in poltiics: 52%, Won't make a difference to me: 36%, No party represents my views: 20%, My vote doesn't matter: 14%, Wasted in my constituency: 8%, I don't have valid photo ID: 4%, I can't easily access my polling station: 3%, Other: 9%, I'm not eligable to vote: 9%, Don't know 4%

Key Findings from the Poll

  • Low Trust in MPs: An overwhelming 78% of respondents stated they do not trust MPs to tell the truth. This distrust is a major barrier to electoral participation.
  • Support for Citizens' Assemblies: Nearly 60% of British adults believe members of a citizens' assembly would make better policy decisions in their best interests compared to just 12% who trust MPs.
  • Preference for House of Lords Reform: A significant portion of the population (24%) favors replacing the House of Lords with a rolling citizens' assembly. This option is more popular than an elected chamber (18%), complete abolition (14%), removal of hereditary peers (11%), or regional representatives (5%).

James Robertson, Campaigns Director of the Sortition Foundation, commented on the implications of these findings: "Rock-bottom trust levels will deter people from voting in the next election. The good news is that British people trust each other nearly five times more than their MPs to make decisions in their best interests. Citizens’ assemblies are a key way we can restore trust in our political system."

The 858 Project: A New Vision for the House of Lords

The publication of the Trust and Citizens report also marks the launch of the 858 Project by the Sortition Foundation. This campaign aims to replace the House of Lords with a House of Citizens, a rolling citizens' assembly designed to ensure accountability and restore public faith that laws are sensible and fair.

"Politicians make all kinds of promises at election time, but when they’re held to account by their cronies in the Lords, faith in them to deliver will remain low," Robertson argues. "A House of Citizens, selected like a jury, would ensure politicians keep their word and deliver for ordinary people."

Trust and politics: Why it's time for a UK House of Citizens. Logos for 858 and Sortition Foundation. Image in background black and white of members of a citizens' assembly with a diagonal band of peach colour.

The Path Forward

The Trust and Citizens report provides a look at the current state of political trust in the UK and suggests a potential remedy through embedding citizens' assemblies. By bringing together a representative group of people to deliberate on issues and make informed decisions, this model could bridge the trust gap between the public and their political representatives.

As the UK grapples with declining political engagement, innovative solutions like a House of Citizens present a promising path to revitalising democracy and ensuring that government actions reflect the considered will of the people.

Bar char: To what extent, if at all, would you trust each of the following to tell you the truth? MPs - A great deal / fair amount:20%, Not much/Not at all: 73%, Don't know: 8% - House of Lords: A Great Deal / A fair amount: 23%, Not much / Not at all: 65%, Don't know: 11%

The YouGov poll surveyed 2,082 adults online between May 13-14, 2024, with weighted figures representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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