Disillusioned voters reject the big three

June 1, 2001

Academics identify key issues in the upcoming general election.

Disillusionment with the country's administration started with train accidents, continued with the realisation that Britain's health service is inferior to that of other countries and climaxed with foot and mouth. People no longer trust the three big political parties to deal with the problems.

Devolution has given some British citizens a taste of something different. In an opinion poll after the election of an independent candidate for London mayor, 21 per cent of voters that expressed an intention to vote in the general election said they would vote for parties other than Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat.

In a Scottish poll in 2000, 70 per cent of respondents thought the Scottish Parliament should have more powers. These voters might not be willing to put up with the constraints of the first-past-the-post system and a remote Westminster government, and might not vote at all.

Helen Margetts is director of the School of Public Policy, University College London.

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