Stop blaming the politicians for local services, poll says

Press release

  • Communities
  • Localism
  • Public services

Just over half of the public seem to support one of the key ideas underpinning the government's flagship Big Society initiative, new polling data collected by Ipsos MORI for the RSA shows.

Fifty two percent agree people should stop blaming politicians for the quality of local services and start making an effort to sort things out themselves, the results show.

This view is most pronounced amongst those who vote Conservative but also amongst those with no children. The youngest and oldest people polled (under 24 and over 65) were most likely to agree perhaps painting a picture of a new can do generation emerging.

The findings also paint a picture of northerners being most likely to continue blaming politicians rather than acting for change whilst southerners and Londoners are most ready to take up challenge of becoming involved in their local services.

The survey, conducted in advance of the RSA's party conference events The Rise of the Disaffected Citizen, also points to continued suspicion of those in authority. Our new survey showed two thirds (65 percent) disagree that 'the people in charge know best' and other Ipsos MORI data commissioned by the BMA in June showed that four out of five people (80 percent) do not trust politicians to tell the truth.

The reasons behind this however appear mixed. Forty per cent believe the public do not respect people in authority enough whilst 43 percent of people believe people in authority have not done enough to deserve that respect.

The poll results show that not much has changed regarding public perception of coalition governments since the Second World War. In 1944, when a coalition government was fighting the threat of Nazi Germany, 57 percent of people thought British politicians were out for themselves or for their party, rather than the interests of the country as a whole.

The poll comes as the RSA and the Social Investment Business prepare to ask how politicians can better engage the public with politics, public services and their local communities.

The Fringe events entitled The Rise of the Disaffected Citizen: What happens when mainstream politicians fail to secure prosperity and security will ask whether the UK might be shaken by new social movements and what this might mean for political parties, charities and civil society organisations alike.

Commenting on the survey finding, Chief Executive of Ipsos Mori, Ben Page said:

"This new poll shows that 65 percent don't trust the people in charge - although it's not clear they ever have. But it also shows that many - 40 percent - recognise that public lack of respect for authority, and unwillingness to be led, and pull together, is a problem in society. Above all it shows that while people know politicians have a tough job, they are expected to earn respect in future."

Chair of the Social Investment Business, Sir Stephen Bubb said:

"The general public consistently trust charities and voluntary organisations more than political parties. When it comes to finding effective ways to tackle intractable social problems politicians need to remember that just because the state pays for services doesn't mean it has to deliver them. People often prefer to engage with local third sector organisations, who they feel understand them and their situation, more than with huge public sector bureaucracies."

The poll comes as the RSA prepares to question Andrew Lansley MP, Jesse Norman MP, Yvette Cooper MP and Tristram Hunt MP at the Conservative and Labour party conferences.

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