A new Ipsos poll reveals deep levels of cynicism towards politicians among the British public.
Half (52%) of Britons believe MPs put their own interests first and three in ten (31%) think MPs put their party’s interest first. Just one in twelve (8%) believe MPs put the interests of their own constituents first, and 6% say their country comes first for MPs. This is almost the exact opposite of what people want MPs to prioritise:
- 56% think MPs should put the interests of their country first
- 40% say the interest of their constituents should come first
- 2% believe interests of parties should be prioritised and 1% say the MP’s own interests
The level of Britons believing MPs put their own interests first has fallen since May 2009 at the height of the expenses scandal (62%) but is still higher than the 45% in January 2006. The current findings are in line with those found in 1994 and 1996. Over time there has been an apparent shift in priorities for the British public with more now wanting MPs to put their country’s interests ahead of constituents; in 1996, 48% wanted constituents’ interests put first and 46% wanted the interests of the country prioritised.
The level of trust in MPs among Britons is lower now than in 2004 and 2006 and similar to 2009. One in five (21%) say they trust MPs to tell the truth and 72% do not trust them. In 2004 67% did not trust MPs, 60% in 2006 and 76% in 2009 after the expenses scandal.
However, Britons are more likely to say they trust their local MP than MPs in general. Half (51%) say they trust their local MP while 35% say they do not trust them. This is the highest level of trust in their local MP we have seen over the last decade.
A third (33%) of British adults believe that most MPs use their power for their own personal gain:
- 6% believe all MPs use their power for their own personal gain
- 27% think that is true of most MPs
- 32% say about half of MPs use their power for their own personal gain
- 32% say it is only true of a few MPs
- 1% say no MPs do so
These findings are slightly lower than those of 2009 (40%), but more people now think most MPs use their power for personal gain than did in 2004 (30%) and 2006 (29%).
In line with other Ipsos polling that shows UKIP supporters to be the most dissatisfied with the government and three major party leaders, they are also the most cynical about MPs. UKIP supporters are more likely than other party supporters to think MPs put their own interests first (72%), more likely to not trust MPs in general (83%) or their local MP (50%) and more likely to think most or all (49%) MPs use their power for their own personal gain.
Head of Political Research at Ipsos, Gideon Skinner, said:
“Public cynicism with politics is nothing new, but it looks like it has become entrenched. Disenchantment with politicians is shared across supporters of all parties – but is noticeably higher among UKIP voters, who seem most unhappy with the current political scene.”
Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,023 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 8th – 10th June 2013. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.