Disenchanted voters would back a 'strong rule-breaking leader', study finds

Posted On: 
8th April 2019

Voters are increasingly disillusioned with the state of politics and looking for a "strong leader willing to break the rules", a major new study has found.

The study paints a grim picture of voters' views on Parliament.

The annual 'Audit of Political Engagement' by the Hansard Society found that public opinion of Britain's democracy is at its lowest for 15 years - and worse than in the aftermath of the MPs' expenses scandal.

More than half of those asked - 54% - say Britain needs "a strong leader who is willing to break the rules".

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Almost three-quarters - 72% - said Britain's system of governing needs "quite a lot" or "a great deal" of improvement.

The proportion of those who said the UK's system of governing needed a "great deal" of improvement has shot up by eight points over the past year to 37% - ten points higher than at the height of the expenses scandal a decade ago.

And, asked to choose between two statements, 42% of respondents agreed that "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".

Meanwhile almost two-thirds - 63% - of those asked said they believed Britain’s system of government was "rigged to advantage the rich and powerful".

Hansard Society director Dr Ruth Fox said voters appeared to be "increasingly dissatisfied with the way our system of governing works" and increasingly "willing to entertain quite radical solutions".

She warned: "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.

"The public feel strongly that the system of governing favours the rich and powerful and that political parties don’t care about the average person. And people are not confident that politicians act in the public interest. Unless something changes, this is a potentially toxic recipe for the future of British politics."

The Hansard Society study was based on face-to-face interviews with 1,198 members of the public carried out by pollster Ipsos Mori, weighted to reflect the make-up of the British population.