The Hansard Society has published its Eighth Audit of Political Engagement. The Report surveys and analyses the public’s views about, and engagement with, the political process. It is not a cheerful read. Public satisfaction with Parliament has, it seems, slipped to a ‘record low’ with only 27% of those surveyed ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with that institution.
Amongst many interesting findings, the report reveals that political engagement tracks social class. The report notes that: ‘the higher the social grade the higher the level of interest in and knowledge of Parliament’ and ‘propensity to vote also reflects social class: 72% of ABs state they would be certain to vote at an immediate general election; this falls to 62% of C1s and falls again to 53% of C2s and 43% of DEs.’ (p. 23).
The Report also investigates the response to David Cameron’s ‘big society’, looking at people’s willingness to participate in voluntary activities in their communities, and making some suggestions as to how this policy could be carried forward.
The Report includes an examination of attitudes towards the Alternative Vote, reaching the slightly worrying conclusion that:
‘Despite very mixed views about the advantages and disadvantages of the Alternative Vote (AV) system, most who took part in our research discussion groups said that, if they vote, they will likely support a change in the system. This was not because of particular dissatisfaction with First Past the Post. Rather, their dissatisfaction with the current system of politics, with MPs, Parliament and government was such that almost any change was preferable to the status quo.” (p.6)