Survey shows Britons becoming more intolerant, politically disillusioned and disunited
Andrew Sparrow – The Guardian
Britons have become angrier since the referendum to leave the EU, according to a survey which suggests there is widespread unhappiness about the direction in which the country is heading.
Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said they felt their fellow citizens had become “angrier about politics and society” since the Brexit vote in 2016, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a long-established, annual survey of trust carried out across the globe.
Forty per cent of people think others are now more likely to take part in violent protests, the UK results from the survey show, even though violent political protest in Britain is rare.
One person in six said they had fallen out with friends or relatives over the vote to leave the bloc, the survey found.
Edelman, which said the findings exposed a “disUnited Kingdom”, found widespread concern about where the government was heading, particularly among those who voted remain, and those who backed Labour.
Overall, about 65% of Britons think the country is “on the wrong track”, the survey suggests. Amongst remain voters the figure is 82%, but even among leave voters the figure is 43%.
Some 60% of people who identify with the Conservatives think the country is heading in the right direction, but among Labour identifiers, the figure is just 20%.
According to Edelman, which conducted online interviews with more than 2,000 people in the UK between December 18 and January 7, the results show “party politics is clearly failing many Britons”. Just over a third of respondents overall (35%) said they trusted Theresa May to do what was right, and just over a quarter (26%) said the same about Jeremy Corbyn.
Both May and Corbyn have seen their trust ratings among their supporters fall considerably over the past year. May’s ratings among Conservative supporters were down 10 points, to 68%, and Corbyn’s among Labour supporters were down 12 points, to 56%.
Some 72% of respondents said they thought life in Britain was unfair, 68% said they wanted to see change, and 53% said they thought the socio-political system was failing them.
The survey found 61% of all respondents said their views were not being represented in British politics. The figures were similar for those voting leave and remain, but those leaning to Labour (66%) said they were more likely to feel unrepresented than those leaning to the Conservatives (43%).
Despite the gloom, the survey also found that 35% of people said they were reading, watching or listening to more news than before, and the proportion of people who said they were sharing news stories online jumped from 41% to 63%.
Commenting on the findings, Edelman’s UK and Ireland chief executive, Ed Williams, said: “We are a disunited kingdom – a country that is seen as increasingly unfair, less tolerant and headed in the wrong direction. Brexit has exposed fractures that have split families and divided friends, made us meaner and angrier as a society, and stoked fears of violent protest and civil disorder.”