75% of people say the main political parties are so divided within themselves that they cannot serve the best interests of the country.
The audit by the Hansard Society also found that faith in the UK political system has dropped to a 15-year low amid a Brexit-induced political crisis.
There is an intensifying feeling of public “powerlessness and disengagement” towards Britain’s system of governance, according to the report, for which 1,198 adults were interviewed in the last two months of 2018.
More than half of the British voters questioned in a new survey want “a strong leader willing to break the rules,” according to a report on political engagement released on Monday.
Key points include:
1. Opinions of the system of governing
Opinions of the system of governing are at their lowest point in the 15-year Audit series – worse now than in the aftermath of the MPs’ expenses scandal
2. Appetite for radical political changes
People are pessimistic about the country’s problems and their possible solution, with sizeable numbers willing to entertain radical political changes
3. Feelings of powerlessness and disengagement
Core indicators of political engagement remain stable but, beneath the surface, the strongest feelings of powerlessness and disengagement are intensifying.
Ruth Fox, director of the non-partisan charity which promotes parliamentary democracy, said the appetite for “radical solutions” has clearly increased among Brits.
The survey found that 54% of those polled calling for a strong, rule-breaking leader; 66% said politicians should be able to say what is on their mind regardless of what anyone else thinks about their views; and 42% think many of the country’s problems could be dealt with more effectively if the government didn’t have to worry so much about votes in Parliament.
“Preferring a strong leader who is willing to break the rules, or thinking that the government should be able to tackle the country’s problems without worrying about the approval of Parliament, would challenge core tenets of our democracy,” Fox said in a statement.
The audit found 56% of those polled believe Britain is in decline, 63% said the system of government is rigged to benefit the rich and powerful, and around two-thirds of those questioned think that most big issues facing the country does not have clear solutions.
While the public does not appear to be politically apathetic, satisfaction with the system of government is on a downward trend. According to the audit, faith in the political system is lower than it was in the aftermath of the 2009 expenses scandal — which shocked the country when Members of Parliament were found to have billed taxpayers for items and services including a £1,600 ornamental duck house on a pond, and the costs of resurfacing tennis courts and cleaning swimming pools, as well as smaller items such as dog food and Christmas decorations.
“Although the core indicators — including certainty to vote — remain stable, pessimism about the country’s future combines worryingly with anti-system sentiment,” Fox added.
More than 70% of respondents said the system of governing needs “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of improvement and just 25% said they have confidence in British MPs handling of Brexit. Meanwhile 75% of those surveyed said the internal divisions in the main political parties means they cannot serve the best interests of the country.
“Unless something changes, this is a potentially toxic recipe for the future of British politics,” Fox said.