Majority Expect UK to Splinter by 2030, Says Landmark Survey

UK TOO CENTRALISED, VOTING SYSTEM WRONG, WIDESPREAD ALIENATION, BUT EUROPE ARGUMENT YET TO BE WON – SAY BRITISH PUBLIC

Download DHA's national poll on People and power

The British people expect the country to fragment within fifteen years, with more decisions made locally and an end to the Westminster stranglehold, according to a landmark survey that calls for an increasing public shift away from centralised power, released today. 

In a wide-ranging survey that tests opinion on local services, devolution, Westminster and Europe, 67% of the public say they have little or no influence over decisions that affect their lives according to People and Power, commissioned by policy specialists, DHA, and conducted by Opinium.

The People and Power survey, commissioned by policy specialists DHA and based on more than 2,000 interviews conducted this month by Opinium, shows how :

  • People think the UK is too centralised, with 56% of people thinking the UK will be broken up/more devolved by 2030 and only 22% preferring the status quo.

  • They feel they lack power over their own lives and want more decisions to be made locally: 67% say they have hardly any/no influence at all, 52% think local councils should have most control over services and 37% think local areas should be able to set own immigration policies.

  • More than half the public (52%) think our electoral system is outdated and just 27% think it is democratic. There is also clear opposition to the way the Lords are appointed, with nearly 2 times as many people saying they should be elected.

  • Arguments against leaving the EU haven’t cut through. 58% of people say an EU referendum would be worth the time and money but 28% of 18-34 year olds say they’d be more likely to consider leaving the UK if we quit the EU.

Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, who wrote the foreword to the report, said: “People and Power is a much needed opportunity to gauge public opinion when so many constitutional issues remain at the forefront of debate and politicians from all parties are still contemplating messages delivered by voters in May’s General Election.

 

“Overriding all of this is the question of empowerment. All politicians preach the virtues of involving the public more in decisions that affect their lives, but until now we’ve had insufficient information on the public’s attitude to whether they believe such sentiments to be genuine and, indeed, whether and how far this distillation of power should continue.

 

“People and Power gives us greater understanding of public opinion on all these issues and everyone in political life would do well to heed the messages it brings.”

People and Power was commissioned by policy and communications agency, DHA, in partnership with research organisation Opinium, to highlight key public issues ahead of the Labour leadership contest and party conference debates.

DHA founder Daniel Harris said: “People and Power shows how badly the UK needs leadership and inspiration. The public knows what the problems are, but don’t know how they can be solved.

“None of the challenges identified in the report will be easy to address. But, until they are, the demands for change will continue to grow, putting ever-greater pressure on the unity of the country.”

The polling report also shows how:

 Frustrations with current power structures are particularly acute in Scotland and the North of England though only one in seven of us wants to see the country broken up.

  • Whilst more than a quarter of young people would consider leaving the country if the UK votes to leave the EU, many more people say they’d never think about leaving.

  • Despite worries about public apathy, most of us want to have more influence over how our local services are run.

  • More than half of us think the electoral system is out-of-date, but only 29% think it can be improved. Less than a quarter want to keep the English constitutional arrangements as they are, yet barely any more than that would support an English Parliament.

  • Most of us think members of the House of Lords should be elected, but we doubt whether a referendum to replace it would be worth the time and money.

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