The Observer published the results of an extraordinary survey of the UK electorate yesterday. What they found was:
The survey by BritainThinks reveals an astonishing lack of faith in the political system among the British people, with less than 6% believing their politicians understand them. Some 75% say that UK politics is not fit for purpose.
As the Conservative party focuses on who its new leader should be, and the Brexit impasse continues with no solution in sight, 86% think the UK needs a strong leader more than ever — but only 21% think the next prime minister, whoever it may be, will be up to the job. Some 52% believe the country is heading for a Boris Johnson premiership.
Some 83% feel let down by the political establishment and almost three-quarters (73%) believe the country has become an international laughing stock and that British values are in decline.
The poll found an extraordinary gulf in levels of optimism between the generations: while 52% of those aged over 65 said they felt optimistic about the country’s future, this dropped to just 24% of under-34s.
What is this about? As the Guardian noted:
Pollster Deborah Mattinson said she was shocked by the findings. “I have been listening to people in focus groups since the late 1980s and I cannot recall a time when the national mood was more despairing. ‘Broken’, ‘sad’, ‘worried’, ‘angry’— the negatives tumble out, as does the long list of grievances. I’m hearing anxieties voiced in a way that I haven’t heard since the 1990s: a rundown NHS, job insecurity, teacher shortages.”
Might I put that another way? What Mattinson is seeing is the growth of disenchantment with the Tories and the destruction that they create within our society. That happened in the 90s. It is happening again. The trouble is, this time Labour is not ready to give people hope. And that is why people are left without hope because first past the post denies them any chance of it in that case.
The only comfort to most here is that we are not alone.