Parliament at night

Audit of Political Engagement 11

Audit of Political Engagement 11New Hansard Society research shows extent to which public expect more from MPs’ conduct and accountability.

A ‘People’s Question Time Day’ would be a helpful reform

The 2014 Hansard Society annual Audit of Political Engagement 11, published April 30, shows the level of public concern with the culture and conduct of politics and politicians and, while levels of interest in and knowledge of politics are holding up or improving, the public continue to feel relatively powerless in the political process.

For more information see the new Audit of Political website and the Audit of Political Engagement research page on this site.

Listen to the authors discuss their findings at the launch event for Audit 11

Audit 11 finds that:

  • 67% say ‘politicians ‘don’t understand the daily lives of people like me’
  • 45% agree that ‘most politicians go into politics because they want to make a positive difference in their community’
  • 74% believe ‘politicians should be prepared to make personal sacrifices if they want to play a role in running the country’
  • Just 21% agree that ‘politicians are behaving in a more professional way than they were a few years ago’
  • 86% agree that politicians ‘should be expected to act according to a set of guidelines about their behaviour’
  • 77% agree that politicians ‘should have to undertake regular ethics and standards training’
  • However, 62% agree that ‘politicians in the past were no better than today; they just didn’t face the same media scrutiny’

Audit of Political Engagement 11 explores the level of public support for reforms to make politicians more accountable to the public. Of seven suggested proposals, the most popular are:

  • A biannual Question Time style event in each constituency – 44%
  • ‘Recall’ of MPs – 42%

The research finds that although knowledge of politics stands at 50% and knowledge of Parliament at 48% the public continue to feel powerless believing that their own involvement in politics will have little effect.

  • Just 31% think that if people like themselves get involved in politics ‘they really can change the way that the UK is run’
  • Just 23% agree that Parliament ‘encourages public involvement in politics’
  • While 43% want to be involved in local decision-making, only 26% feel they have at least some influence locally
  • While 38% want to be involved in national decision-making, only 14% feel they have at least some influence nationally

Audit 11 also explores public attitudes to the forthcoming European Parliament elections.

  • 77% agree that ‘I know less about the issues in a European Parliament election than a general election’
  • 71% agree that they ‘understand more about how general elections work than elections to the European Parliament’
  • 61% believe their general election vote is simply ‘more important’ than their European one

Dr Ruth Fox, Director and Head of Research at the Hansard Society and co-author of the report, commented:

‘After the expenses scandal, the 2010 election saw the biggest turnover of MPs in post-war electoral history. But the public remain as dissatisfied as ever with the culture and conduct of politics. They want MPs to behave more professionally and to deliver what they promise, including the right to recall their MP for serious wrongdoing.
‘Another reform that the public think would make MPs more accountable to them between elections is a biannual Question Time event. Most MPs regularly hold this kind of meeting already but too often it barely registers on the public’s radar. However, a nationwide ‘People’s Question Time Day’ twice a year, in which all MPs held an event in their local area at the same time, would attract a level of media and public attention and focus that is simply lacking when they do it individually.’

Download: Audit of Political Engagement 11 (2014)

Listen to the authors discuss their findings at the launch event for Audit 11

  • The Audit of Political Engagement is published by the Hansard Society with funding support from the House of Commons and the Cabinet Office.
  • The information in the Audit of Political Engagement 11 is based on a Political Engagement Poll undertaken by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Hansard Society. The findings are based on a total of 1,286 face-to-face interviews with British adults aged 18+ conducted between 6 and 12 December 2013, which have then been weighted to the national population profile of Great Britain.
  • The public were asked ‘Which two or three, if any, of the following do you think would be most effective in holding politicians to account?’ Of a list of 7 possible reforms: 44% chose ‘Require all MPs to hold an open meeting where members of the public can question their MP at least twice a year’; and 42% chose ‘Introduce a right for constituents to ‘recall’ their MP if they have behaved badly forcing an immediate election for that MP’.


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