6 in 10 have confidence in the UK Supreme Court to do its job despite most not knowing much about its work

New polling, in partnership with the Economist, shows few Britons know much about the work of the Supreme Court in the UK but 4 in 10 say they have the right amount of power

The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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New polling by Ipsos in the UK shows 59% of Britons say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the Supreme Court to do its job well while only a quarter (26%) say they are not confident. 

Despite most having confidence in the Supreme Court, few appear to know much about its work, the powers it has over the government (and vice versa), the UK constitution or how laws are made in the UK. Almost two-thirds (65%) of Britons say they know not very much/have heard of but know nothing/have never heard of the work of the Supreme Court while 60% say the same for the UK constitution, 55% for the powers that the government, parliament and the courts have over each other and 49% for how laws are made in the UK.

Thinking about the powers of the Supreme Court, Britons are most likely to say the powers it has are about right (42%) while 15% say it is too powerful and 14% say they it doesn’t have enough power. As expected, a significant number of Britons don’t know whether the Supreme Court has too much, too little or the right amount of power (29%). 

One in 5 (20%) say the Supreme Court gets too involved in politics compared to 12% who say it is not involved enough. More than a third (35%) say it gets involved with politics about the right amount while 3 in 10 (32%) do not know how involved it gets.

When considering how new members of the Supreme Court should be selected, Britons are most in favour of the government choosing based on recommendations from a panel of senior judges and legal figures (29%) or through a vote of all lawyers and judges in the country (18%). Fifteen per cent support new members to be elected by the public. Again, many Britons aren’t sure how new members should be selected with 27% saying they don’t know. 

Keiran Pedley, Research Director at Ipsos, said:

These numbers suggest that the British public are not particularly concerned about the Supreme Court or the powers and influence it has over public life. Few have more than a basic grasp of what it does but around 6 in 10 are confident it does it well. Meanwhile, of those expressing a view, the preference seems to be for new members to be chosen by the legal community and independently of politicians.

Technical note: 

  • Ipsos UK interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,084 adults aged 18-75 in Great Britain. Interviews took place on the online Omnibus using the Ipsos.Digital platform between 27th to 29th May 2022. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions.
The author(s)
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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