New poll shows that Britain demands constitutional reform

Houses Of Parliament

A new Ipsos MORI poll for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust shows a heavy appetite for political change. Westminster must listen.

The UK-wide survey released on Saturday asked questions to 2,008 people (15+) on a huge range of issues. The data was collected between the 18th and 24th July.

First of all the poll reveals a massive distrust of the ‘establishment’. According to the survey 15% have no trust in the Westminster government, compared with 2% who completely trust it. The question is based on a score of 0-10, with the mean response being 4.13. Similar figures are found when people were asked about ‘Political Parties in general’. The survey shows that 14% have no trust at all, whilst just 1% give their complete trust. The mean score on the scale of 0-10 is 3.76, showing general dissatisfaction.

Scotland’s independence referendum is just days away and with claims that the nation will be given more powers if it votes ‘no’ there will be a larger appetite for further devolution across the whole UK.

Well over half of the 2,008 people asked (62%) agree that ‘power in Britain is too centralised’, showing a very real demand for change. People across the country want power to be closer to the people, whether that be in the form of more powers to councils, regional authorities, or furthering the powers of devolved bodies. Or creating new ones - perhaps an English Parliament. In contrast a mere 13% disagree that Britain is too centralised.

There is also a strong appetite for an elected second chamber to replace the House Of Lords, something which all the main parties failed to deliver on in this parliament. A total of 46% of respondents agree that there should be an elected second chamber, more than double the 20% that disagree. The House Of Lords is archaic and an affront to democracy. This must change, whichever way Scotland votes.

Furthermore, the poll shows an appetite for more devolution across England in some form or another. 68% think Parliament should have less power, with 30% favouring more powers being given to the regions, 21% favouring giving more powers to cities and counties and 17% favouring more power being given to the town and district councils.

Whichever way these figures are looked at - the UK is demanding some sort of change.

Additionally, the poll shows a demand for a proportionally representative voting system. Perhaps this is due to the fall of the two party system with the rise of the likes of UKIP and the Greens. Half of those questioned favour a proportional system whilst just 22% disagree. Whichever way Scotland votes there is going to be some sort of a national dialogue about the UK's constitutional future. Proportional representation could resurface in this discussion.

Furthermore, 47% favour a ‘none of the above’ option on ballot papers, more than double the 23% who disagree, showing a further dissatisfaction with the current options.

In just five days Scotland goes to the polls. All eyes will be on the country, but what will be interesting to see is how the rest of the UK changes and reforms. This recent poll tells us that power is too far away from the people and that will have to change. Demands for an elected second chamber and proportional representation will come back, but whether the distrusted Westminster politicians will listen is yet to be seen.

Details of the poll can be found here: