US pollster: 'The UK is in a political crisis'

A landmark study by a US political attitudes expert has claimed that the UK is in the midst of a political crisis as people feel "ignored" by politicians.

Dr Frank Luntz was at Oxford University with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Dr Frank Luntz was at Oxford University with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The report, by US political consultant and pollster Dr Frank Luntz, found that while people prefer today's Tory party to its predecessors, they hanker for the Labour Party led by Tony Blair.

Dr Luntz, who was a contemporary of Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Oxford University and carried out his first polling work for Mr Johnson’s campaign for the presidency of the Oxford Union, warned that Britain is not as divided as America - but said an “alarmingly large segment” of the public is deeply disillusioned.

However, while the study found that concern about climate change is cross-party in the UK, ‘woke’ attitudes about other issues are far less mainstream than in the US.

Only 18 per cent of respondents consider themselves ‘woke’, whereas 20 per cent said they are not ‘woke’ at all.

Similarly, 39 per cent see ‘cancel culture’ as a ‘bad thing’ which shuts down freedom of speech and honest discussion, compared to 26 per cent who see it as a good thing.

Scottish politics was not tackled specifically in the study, with only one question in Dr Luntz’s polling - as to whether friction between England and Scotland or Wales was considered to be the greatest divide in British politics today - mentioning Scotland specifically. A total of 15 per cent of people said they believed it was.

However, ‘rich versus poor’ was cited as the most divisive issue in UK politics.

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The key words people chose to describe their attitudes towards politicians were ‘disappointed’, ‘ignored’ and ‘fed up’ . Nine of the top 10 answers were negative, with only 14 per cent saying they made them feel ‘hopeful.’

However, it found voters prefer the Tory party of today to its predecessors - but all voters prefer the Labour Party of Tony Blair to that of Keir Starmer or Jeremy Corbyn

Dr Luntz, who is right leaning but who distanced himself from the Republican party in January, said: “These are really alarming findings. Britain isn't as bad as America - yet. But it's clear that there are an awful lot of people who feel they're being ignored. And when people think they’re either “ignored” or “irrelevant”, that’s a crisis.

“The attribute they want most from their elected leaders is honesty. The attribute they need most from their employer is respect.”

He added: “There is far more political polarisation in the UK than the US. While the UK right is not as right as America, the UK left is much further left. Most voters are in the sensible centre.

“But there are remarkably few differences in values between Left and Right. The gaps develop in terms of priorities and policies. Focus on the values we want for society and the aspirations we want for our children and you'll unite the country.”

Robert Colvile, director of think tank the Centre for Policy Studies, where Dr Luntz has been a visiting academic fellow, said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege for us to work with Dr Luntz on his survey. There is so much to dig into in his findings - and much that is both encouraging and concerning.”

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