The longest-running set of polls ever undertaken in the UK, which has been ongoing for over thirty years has been on trust in key professions with Ipsos MORI conducting surveys on the subject since 1983. Their surveys consistently show that public trust in politicians has always been low: at no point since 1983 have more than a quarter of the public ever trusted politicians to tell the truth. The lowest trust score was recorded in 2009 in the wake of the expenses scandal, when only 13% said they trusted politicians. Clearly, there must be a deception going on in our democracy.
Last year, trust in politicians was 16% and this year there is a rise to 21%. In other words, this particular survey says that 79% of the population take the view that politicians lie to us all the time.
The Tip of the iceberg
In 2002, half of the British public thought that Britain was America’s lapdog. Back then just 13% of the public thought Blair was right in attacking Iraq. One third of Britain’s public thought that America was the greatest threat to world peace and 59% thought the reason for the attack on Iraq was the more about the threat to US control and influence in the Middle East. On those accounts the public have proven to be right and the politicians proven so emphatically misguided and/or wrong. It appears that the government of 2015-20 will do exactly the same, that is; implement policies unpopular to the electorate.
Out of 37,000 Independent readers, 79% were against British bombing of Syria, and that was just eight weeks ago. Even the right-wing Daily Mail stated that over half its readers were against Britain bombing a nation where Cameron inconceivably concluded that “We face a fundamental threat to our security.” David Cameron also lied to parliament with his 70,000 ‘moderate troops’ ready to attack ISIS in his bid to join the coalition so as to not endure more embarrassment for failing to carry out Washington’s wishes.
TTIP is one of the most dangerous policies to be backed by the government. Over 150,000 voters on people action website 38 Degrees were asked about TTIP with 98% stating they would help to protest against TTIP being adopted in Britain. This was echoed by an EU Commission survey of 150,000 residents of the 28 nation bloc – the largest survey ever undertaken by the EU. Unsurprisingly, 97% were firmly against TTIP being imposed across Europe. The EU commission has since disregarded its own report and rejected action groups consisting of millions of people dissenting all across Europe. David Cameron is aggressively pushing for TTIP in Britain as are the unelected bureaucrats of the EU Commission amid strong protest by the public, Britain included.
Fracking is another policy being aggressively pushed by Britain’s Conservative government, especially David Cameron. In it’s own survey just 32% of those polled agree with fracking. The Times has commissioned a number of energy reports through YouGov and when the reports went against the government narrative, they were not published. CarbonBrief corroborates this with their own report along with confirmation of the continuing decline in support of fracking by the public. George Osborne has a vested interest in fracking as his father-in-law heads up a shadowy fracking organisation.
David Cameron firmly supports Israel’s right ‘to defend itself’ and continues to allow £billions of arms sales to Israel for the sole purpose of destroying Palestinian infrastructure in what has been described by many as the Colonisation of Palestine by Israel or more simply put – ‘genocide‘. However, just 12% of Brits agree with Israel’s actions in a YouGov poll with 62% of the public saying Israel were committing war crimes in its attacks on Gaza last summer. At odds with public sentiment, David Cameron has been described as the most pro-Israel British prime minister ever. Allowing the sale of British made weapons to regimes such as Israel constitutes an immorality unacceptable to normal British people. That has not stopped the government doing exactly as it pleases.
Energy and rail privatisation has also proven to be a total disaster in the UK with the universal experience being dramatic price increases for no public benefit whilst providing huge profit windfalls for shareholders. Escalating energy prices has had savage consequences for household discretionary incomes and rail has been determined by a major UBS study to be the most costly transport system in the world. In a recent YouGov survey 68% of the public want renationalisation of energy and 66% of rail services. This is not something the government is considering, in fact, if anything, George Osborne is accelerating the sale of yet more state owned assets including energy and rail and will conclude the biggest privatisation programme in the history of Britain by 2020. How far from the public good could the serving government actually get?
There is little comfort for the government when it comes to their relentless aspirations to privatise the NHS. Again, a YouGov poll finds overwhelming opposition by the public of the privatisation of the nation’s health service. In fact, 87% polled were firmly against, but worse, was that the same poll determined that just 7% of the public thought private healthcare was the way forward.
The junior doctors strike is noteworthy as the public overwhelmingly blames Jeremy Hunt for failing to come to acceptable working conditions. The Independent article could not be more clear on the matter. Yet again, the government is not doing what the people elected them to do.
A recent study conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism made for interesting reading. It started off with another survey that needed to be updated.
In October 1969, Gallup asked a sample of Britons: would you describe Britain as a democratic country or not? Just over two-thirds (68%) said yes, but a substantial minority either said no (20%) or don’t know (12%).
The results today are quite shocking. “Just 15% think the Westminster parliament does a good job on ‘representing the interests and wishes of people like you”. One third of the nation now thinks Britain is no longer democratic. One noteworthy finding is that 35% of the public can’t pick a single feature (of political policy) to praise.
Just 5% of voters like the quality of our political parties and just 3% like how peers are selected to be members of the House of Lords, likewise, just 3% for the quality of British MP’s.
In 1954, 67% of the public could name their MP – that has slipped to 63% with 38% saying their MP did a good job in 1954 – now sitting at 15%. An astonishing 62% of people agree that “politicians tell lies all the time – you can’t believe a word they say”. Greater familiarity with politics does little to dispel the view that MPs are liars with 57% of those who avidly follow politics thinking politicians are liars.
The report concludes – “The decline in trust seems to be long-term. After each general election since 1987, British Social Attitudes have asked people how much they ‘trust British governments of any party to place the needs of the nation above the interests of their political party’. The proportion trusting governments ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time’ has collapsed from 47% in 1987 to just 20% in 2010. And the decline has been remorseless, with the proportion at each election lower than the election before.”
This extensive report, an update from political attitudes dating back to the sixties was completed just three years ago. What all this indicates is that the reputation of Britain’s political system, its very legitimacy, democracy itself, is at risk because politicians continue to abuse the system whilst adopting little in the way of ethics and professionalism.