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In the News

Is politics in Britain broken?

Mike McCartney

15th October 2021

Channel 4 news have been given access to a new report by More In Common that reveals that there is a bigger disconnect between politicians and the people than ever.

That trust in politicians is about as low as it can get is not news. According to Full Fact, an independent charity, under one in five of us say we believe politicians tell us the truth.

This is from a report the published in 2018, i.e. before covid, and recent revelations such as the Panama Papers, so a more recent figure may be even lower than that. See the report here: political-trust-in-the-uk.pdf (

In fact trust in politicians has never been very high, always being near the bottom of the professions, and hasn't been over 20% since the 1960s.

It dipped even further in the 1990s as a result of a series of scandals in the Tory government, rose slightly thereafter, then fell sharply again in the late 2000s, because of a double whammy of the banking crisis, then the MPs’ expenses scandal.

Laura Keunssburg in “The Decade of Distrust” in a radio documentary looks back at the first decade of the new millennium and the whole series events that caused a pollical fault line to open up between the electors and the elected.

You can listen to the podcast on the BBC archive here:

Archive on 4 - The Decade of Distrust - BBC Sounds

Going back to the think tank More in Common their website states that:

“Societies are fracturing as the forces of division grow stronger, driving people apart.

We are losing trust in each other and in the future. Feelings of frustration, powerlessness and a loss of belonging are making us vulnerable to ‘us versus them’ stories, which turn us against each other. Social media is magnifying the loudest and most extreme voices.

A generation ago, experts claimed the forces of democracy, freedom and progress were unstoppable. Instead we are entering the 2020s with many of the most established democracies feeling weakened, unstable and under increasing threat.”

Source: We are More in Common

But perhaps all is not lost. A previous report by the group revealed that as a society we are not as divided as many think we are. There are differences, but not the deep social cleavages that many assume, such as left v right, or pro and anti-Brexit. Instead the identify seven different groups. Groups that have more in common than one might think.

Take the quiz here:


The optimistic view, then, is that we should work to replace the current political class with one that is more in touch with the people. One that is united in the need to effect real political change. And united around one single issue that is a pressing concern not just for the whole of the UK, but the whole of the world. But how do we do that?

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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