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Over half the public say none of the political parties represent their views

06 June 2017 | Tags: British Social Attitudes, Politics

A new survey by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) has found that over half of the British public (56%) say that they do not feel any of the political parties represent the views of people like them.

Who feels unrepresented?

The findings from the NatCen Panel survey of 2,223 people, carried out between 27th April and 28th May 2017, suggest that while people across British society don’t feel that a party represents them, they are more likely to look like traditional Labour voters. They are more likely to hold traditional working class or “blue collar” jobs and live in local authority or Housing Association properties. They are less likely to be on the right of the political spectrum, oppose redistribution of wealth or be over 60.

The results, which come from a survey method designed to reach all sections of British society, are perhaps a reflection of the relative strengths of the two parties in the polls, with some voters on the left not supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Conservatives more effectively rallying their supporters behind the Party.

They also provide one possible explanation for why the opinion polls appear to show growing Labour support during the course of the campaign. Non-aligned people on the left and 2015 Labour voters could be moving back to the party as Election Day approaches.  Crucially, a majority of those who do not feel represented by a political party (58%) said that they would nonetheless turn out to vote in the General Election.

Is it just the politically disengaged?

NatCen’s survey shows that it does not appear to be general disengagement with politics or election fatigue driving this trend; 84% of those surveyed said that they cared who won the election, including 76% of those who said that no party represents them; while 69% felt that the Prime Minister was right to call an election.

Election didn’t change people’s minds on Brexit

The results of the NatCen Panel survey also indicate that the Prime Minister’s decision to call an election had no impact on the public view about whether Britain would get a good deal from Brexit.

In February, a third of people (33%) thought Britain would get a good deal, by May this stood at 30%.

Will they, won’t they?

The survey also gives some insight into the likely voting behaviour of young people, which now appears to be a key factor in recent poll changes.

Around five in ten young people (53% of 18-30s) tell us that they are definitely going to vote in this election compared with 79% of those aged 60+. Of this younger group, 62% told us they turned out to vote in the 2015 General Election (compared to 85% of those aged 60+), meaning that we will need to see a significant change in their voting behaviour if they are to affect the outcome of the election.

Roger Harding, Head of Public Attitudes, National Centre for Social Research said: “Despite caring deeply about the result, the majority of the working class and social renters feel politically homeless. The consistent Conservative lead over Labour is quite possibly explained by this group – traditionally Labour – being the most likely to describe themselves as unrepresented in this race.

“A democracy in which a majority consider the choices on offer don’t speak to their lives is a very worrying thing and all parties would do well to consider how to reconnect with those who feel left out. “

ENDS

The tables are published here.

For more information contact Leigh Marshall: leigh.marshall@natcen.ac.uk/ 07828 031850

Notes to editors.

1. NatCen Social Research interviewed 2,223 people between 27th April and 28th May 2017, either via the internet or over the phone. All respondents were originally interviewed as part of the random probability face-to-face 2015 or 2016 British Social Attitudes (BSA) surveys. The data have been weighted to take account of differences between the composition of the sample and that of the original BSA sample, as well as to ensure that it matches the known demographic characteristics of the population.

2. NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.