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You're not fit for purpose: Damning message to politicians from disillusioned Star readers

By Pete Madeley | Politics | Published:

Shropshire Star readers today delivered a damning verdict on the state of politics in Britain.

The results are in from our State of the Nation survey

Pessimistic about the future and fed up with our political leaders and the parties they represent.

Shropshire Star readers have had their say over the State of the Nation, and the results paint a picture of a region disgruntled with the way things are.

Key survey results:

  • Just three per cent of those surveyed believe our politicians are doing a good job
  • Eighty five per cent said they have lost confidence in our political leaders
  • Readers are split on how they feel about No Deal and about a second referendum
  • Only 14 per cent believe knife crime in the region is under control
  • A majority of readers said they support the legalisation of cannabis
  • Scroll down for the results in full

The message to politicians is that we are sick and tired of crisis after crisis in Westminster, highly concerned about very real issues like crime and health and do not have the confidence in our leaders to put our country in order.

More than 1,700 took part in the survey, which asked a series of questions about key aspects of life in Britain in 2019.

And nearly two thirds of respondents said they were pessimistic when asked how they felt about the prospects for the UK over the next five years.

Full results:

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The results of our first six questions

The results of questions seven to 12

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It comes after the country has been plunged into political and social turmoil since the Brexit vote in June 2016, with Britain still tied to the EU despite having initially been due to leave in March.

  • How do you feel about the state of the nation? Have your say in the comments below

The results of the survey suggest the failure of Westminster to secure our departure from the bloc has had a big impact on the public’s view of politics.

More than four in five people who took part said they had lost confidence in British politics, with only three per cent saying they believed our political parties were doing a good job.

'Hard to be optimistic'

Dr Steve McCabe, from Birmingham City University’s Institute of Design and Economic Acceleration, said he was not surprised to see that people across the region viewed the future with a degree of pessimism.

“It’s a pretty overwhelming majority which shows that people sense that things are not good, either in a political or an economic sense,” he said.

“And even in the best case scenario the narrative is that things will get worse before they get better.

Read more:

“People hear the spin from the Government about the economy and job creation, but they look at the reality and feel that it is hard to be optimistic at this moment in time.”

Both the Conservatives and the Labour Party have struggled to negotiate the choppy waters of the past three years.

Will the Prime Minister need a hard hat to survive the coming months?

The Tories are now in their third leader after David Cameron quit and Theresa May was forced out, the latter a victim of her inability to steer through Parliament the withdrawal deal she negotiated with Brussels.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the latest to take up residence in Number 10, staking his reputation on delivering Brexit on October 31 “come what may”.

His honeymoon period appears to have been shortlived according to the results of our survey, with 46 per cent of all respondents saying they were not happy with him as PM compared with around a third of people backing him.

And the results of our survey show that the vast majority of readers have lost faith in the country’s political parties, with just two per cent saying our politicians are doing a good job.

Dr McCabe said: “By and large politicians work extremely hard, but Parliament is split over Brexit and although they are desperate to reach some sort of compromise, it still seems a long way off.

"People see prospects such as a Government of national unity as another device to block the result of the referendum. It is difficult to see how they can regain public confidence.

"If this was a business with such a low satisfaction rating you would close it down, rename it and start all over again.”

No deal and a second referendum

Mr Johnson’s rise to power has also seen the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit increase, with the new PM insisting that Britain will quit the EU on WTO terms if Brussels continues its refusal to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

With the clock ticking – and the unlikelihood that any new deal would be able to get through Parliament anyway – no-deal certainly seems a more realistic outcome than it ever did under Mrs May.

Shropshire Star readers are split over the prospect, with just over half of those taking part in the survey believing it would have a disastrous impact on the UK.

Dr McCabe said it showed that the Brexiteers argument of “trust us, it will all work out ok in the end” had resonated with people.

Most readers said they are against having a second referendum

The repeated delays over Brexit have also led to increased calls for a second referendum.

Politicians from all parties, including Labour deputy leader Tom Watson who wants his party to join forces with the Lib Dems to try and block Brexit, have championed a so-called ‘people’s vote. They say it is the only way of breaking the country’s Brexit deadlock, although the majority of Star readers disagreed.

Our survey saw 57 per cent of respondents opposing a second referendum, saying the decision on our future relationship with the EU has already been made.

Dr McCabe said: “There is a view that nodeal is not what people voted for and that there should be a second vote on whatever outcome you get. In some ways you could say we have done this back to front, with this debate should have occurred four years ago before the referendum.

“But the last referendum caused so much turmoil, it is questionable that a second vote would make things any better. Although the number of people against a second referendum appears to be coming down, the reality is that we are running out of time.”

Popularity

Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity appears to have dwindled dramatically over the past 12 months, as the Labour leader has battled with party in-fighting, quitting MPs, anti-Semitism and conflicting messages over Brexit.

Our survey saw four out of five people say they were not happy with Mr Corbyn as party leader. Meanwhile nearly two thirds of people believe Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism, an issue which some supporters of Mr Corbyn believe has been overblown in order to discredit him.

Eleven per cent of readers said they are happy with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader

The political dysfunction has led to the creation of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and the resurgence of the Lib Dems and the Greens – all of which hoovered up votes in this year’s Euro elections at the expense of Labour and the Tories. And regardless of whether or not Britain leaves the EU this year, an early General Election seems inevitable.

Next month could see one sparked if a confidence motion is called in Mr Johnson’s administration, who at any rate is unlikely to be overly enamoured with the prospect of governing until 2022 with a majority of just one.

Knife crime and the NHS

One of the major criticisms of the political focus on Brexit has been the lack of parliamentary time devoted to other issues, most notably crime and health.

In the West Midlands crime rates have shot up in recent years, with violent crime – particularly involving knives and guns – hitting a 10-year-high.

Just 14 per cent of readers believe knife crime is under control

It has come against a backdrop of reduced police officer numbers, an issue which Mr Johnson is attempting to address with the announcement of 20,000 new officers for our forces.

Of those taking part in our survey, 86 per cent said they believed knife crime was either “out of control” or a concern, while 51 per cent said they feel more at risk from crime than they did a decade ago.

Dr McCabe said: “It shows that people are fearful of knife crime and there is clearly a sense that there is a serious problem out there that is not being dealt with.”

Meanwhile the NHS has also come under increasing strain, with funding and capacity unable to keep up with rising patient numbers and an ageing population.

One third of readers described the state of the NHS as 'in crisis'

The situation was reflected in our survey results, which saw more than 90 per cent of people saying the service was either struggling to cope or in crisis.

The Government has pledged to boost health spending by billions, with Mr Johnson recently announcing £850m to upgrade outdated facilities and equipment at hospitals across the country.

Two thirds of respondents to our survey said they would be happy to pay more taxes to increase funding for the NHS. Readers were also asked for their views on drug legislation, with 60 per cent saying cannabis should be legalised and licensed.

Politicians react

Owen Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, said he was not surprised by the figures, adding: “I think there is a great disillusionment with democratic politics where people think their vote is being ignored.

“We are three years on from a referendum where people were told they would have a vote which would be sovereign, and whatever they decided would be implemented by MPs.

Owen Paterson, who welcomed Boris Johnson to Ellesmere during the leadership campaign, said the results reflect the disillusion many voters feel

"For the first time ever they went against the establishment, and three years on the establishment has blocked the people. At the same time, those who voted Remain are fed up because of all the uncertainty, and all the problems that caused.”

Mr Paterson said he was worried how this resentment would be expressed if the referendum was not delivered.

Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said the figures were disappointing and reflected frustration surrounding Brexit.

He said he was concerned some politicians were trying to prevent Britain leaving the EU on time, which would add to the anger.

But Mr Kawczynski said he did believe that MPs of all parties generally had the best interests of the country and their constituents at heart, adding: “I think there is always a natural healthy scepticism towards politicians.”

Mr Kawczynski said unemployment was at its lowest rate since 1971, and that the tax burden had been reduced for low earners while the deficit had also been cut close to zero.

“Inflation is low, and interest rates are low,” he said. “People are frustrated about Brexit, but when you look at the day-to-day things a lot has been achieved.”

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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