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King, Anthony

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The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom | 03/12/2008

Anthony King on the gap between politicians and the people

Pollster Anthony King complains in The Daily Telegraph of the growing chasm between the British people and their politicians: "The deepest divide in British politics today is not between Labour and the Tories. ... It is between Britain's whole political class and the great majority of the British people. On the far side of a chasm stand politicians of all parties and their hangers-on. On the near side is almost everyone else. ... Signs of popular alienation from the political class are visible everywhere. The most familiar is the long-term decline in the proportion of people bothering to vote. Turn-out at general elections during the 1950s averaged 82 per cent. During the 1980s it still averaged a respectable 74 per cent. But at the two most recent elections the corresponding figures were a paltry 59 and 61 per cent. ... Britons have always been sceptical about politics and politicians. Now their scepticism has morphed into cynicism, even contempt. ... So what? The answer is not that 'democracy is under threat'. ... Most people want more of it, not less. The answer is that misgovernment is bad in itself and that cynicism of politicians on the present scale corrodes people's respect for the law generally and undermines the ability of governments of all parties to persuade ordinary people to act in a disinterested, civic-minded way."

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