Three in four have a negative view of politics in Britain today

Tanya AbrahamResearch Director of Political and Social Research
February 15, 2022, 9:27 AM GMT+0

New YouGov research explores attitudes towards the state of today’s politics following the recent investigation into allegations of rule-breaking social gatherings at Downing Street

The public has painted a bleak view of their attitudes towards politics. In the days following further revelations about Number 10’s alleged social activities during a period of legal lockdowns, three in four (73%) say they have a negative view of politics in Britain today.

While majorities of both major voting blocs see politics in a poor light, those who voted Labour (83%) are more likely to have this opinion than their Tory peers (61%). Even a majority of those who aren’t necessarily following ‘partygate’ feel negative about the state of politics (64%, compared to 79% who are negative and following the story).

A mere 7% say they currently hold a positive view of politics in Britain.

Approaching nine in ten lay responsibility for how politics operates in Britain squarely with the prime minister (87%) or the government of the day (89%) – a view that cuts across party lines. Slightly fewer think all politicians should be held accountable (83%).

The civil service is not exonerated either, with two in three (65%) thinking they have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of responsibility for the political system too, with a majority of both Conservative (73%) and Labour (60%) 2019 voters sharing this view. Overall, a fifth say they don’t have much or any responsibility (22%).

‘Partygate’ is damaging politics at all levels

This poor view of British politics seems unlikely to be a fleeting annoyance, as by 77% to 15% the population say partygate is damaging to the wider political system in Britain.

Almost nine in ten think it is damaging to Boris Johnson directly (88%), while 84% think it has harmed his party. Fewer than one in ten think it has had little to no damage on the prime minister (7%) or the Conservatives (9%).

Three in five (60%) say they have been following the stories about Downing Street gatherings, with those following most closely the more likely to think it has been damaging to the wider political system (86%). However, the perceived impact of the alleged gatherings continues to cut through even amongst those who haven’t been following this story as closely ­– albeit to a lesser extent (65%).

Today’s politicians are seen as worse than their predecessors

YouGov also asked the public how politicians from all parties fare considering the basic obligations of being an elected representative when compared to their predecessors.

Overall, the population does not paint their current cohort of electees in a positive light.

Compared to those who have come before them, around half of Britons think today’s politicians are less likely to work for the country’s best interests (49%) and less likely to improve matters for people (49%).

Crucially, given the recent scandals and ensuing fallout, half also think politicians are less honest (49%) and are less likely follow to the rules of the country (56%) now than they have been in the past.

Across the measures we asked about, around a third of Britons think current and former politicians are much the same as they have been in the past (32-38%). Only a small number (2-6%) consider the current crop to be better than those who came before them.

See full result here