Do people trust politicians?

Do people trust politicians?

Do people trust politicians?

Over the last few years there have been a number of events that may have affected UK citizens trust in politicians.  From the impact of the Brexit vs Remain fall-out, to wide-scale political scandals such as parliamentary expenses scandal and cash for questions, to smaller political scandals such as Covid restriction infractions, breaches of the ministerial code and other controversies.

Eighty years ago, approaching the end of WW2, a landmark Gallup poll found that approximately 36% of voters believed that politicians were focused primarily on advancing the interests of their country.

We were interested in discovering whether trust had eroded further and what that might mean in terms of faith that politicians work in our interests and how demographics impact this. 

We asked one simple question in our UK household survey:

"To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement - I trust that politicians work in my interests" and the resulting data is detailed below.

  Age Home Ownership
  Total 18-24 25-49 50-64 65+ Home Owner Renter/Other
Strongly disagree 33% 36% 37% 31% 28% 29% 39%
Slightly disagree 31% 31% 34% 30% 28% 31% 32%
Slightly agree 25% 15% 20% 30% 33% 31% 16%
Strongly agree 4% 3% 3% 3% 5% 4% 4%
Don’t know 7% 15% 6% 5% 6% 6% 9%
NET: Disagree 65% 67% 71% 61% 57% 60% 71%
NET: Agree 28% 18% 23% 33% 37% 35% 20%


The key conclusion is that only a minority of citizens trust politicians (29%) to work in their interests, suggesting a significant decline in trust across the population.

There is a clear correlation between an individual's age and the level of trust however, as the data indicates that older citizens trust politicians more than younger.  Approximately 38% of citizens over 65 years old trust politicians to work in their interests, versus 18% of those between 18-24 years old. 

Author's note - Speculating on the reasons for this, there is a general acceptance that the baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) have been particularly fortunate as a generation, and current pensioners have many advantages over struggling younger families including free transport passes, extra money for heating in winter, a triple-locked state pension, free prescriptions, free eye tests and dental care, potentially a free TV license, and many allowances that tie in with ill health that typically impacts the elderly.  

The data also indicates that there is correlation between trust and home ownership, although that might be a consequence of the fact that younger people are less likely to own their home.

Additional supporting data reveals that gender has no significant impact on trust in politicians, nor does family size.

From a financial perspective, household income reveals no significant correlation, except for households with an income under £20,000, for whom trust in politicians dips even lower.   

Author's note - This could reflect a sense that politicians are not tangibly improving their personal economic circumstances, or it could relate to other factors.

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