Less than half of Britain interested in politics, survey finds

By Oliver Hotham

The public are becoming "disengaged" with political matters, according to new data released today.

The survey, part of the independent Hansard Society's annual audit of political engagement, revealed only 42% of the public will readily admit to having an interest in politics and only 48% said they would definitely vote if election were held tomorrow.

The figures are ten points lower than they were last year and are the lowest since the survey began nine years ago.

More dramatic is the cynicism revealed in questions about the political system – only 24% believed the system of coalition government is working well.

Director of the Hansard Society's parliament and government programme Dr Ruth Fox said that the turbulent political events of 2011 did not seem to have sparked more public interest in politics:

"It appears that the economic crisis, the summer riots and phone hacking did not lead to any greater interest in or knowledge of politics."

"The public seem to be disgruntled, disillusioned and disengaged. Thus far, coalition politics does not appear to have been good for public engagement," she continued.

"Worryingly, only a quarter of the population are satisfied with our system of governing, which must raise questions about the long-term capacity of that system to command public support and confidence in the future."

30% of respondents said that if an election were called tomorrow, they would almost certainly not vote.

The survey also revealed that while self-declared Conservative voters tend to be believe the coalition is working well (56%) Liberal Democrat supporters are more sceptical (27%).

It also demonstrated that the public have more faith that they can make a difference at a local level (56%), but that only 38% would actually want to be involved.