There is no doubt that Britain is at an impasse. The continued recession, declining living standards, rising youth employment, and the overall uncertainty of the economic recovery weigh heavily on Britons’ minds, aspirations and prospects. At the same time, the people who represent our interests and lead our institutions do not reflect the population of Britain today.
Out of a total of 650 MPs, only 146 are women and only 28 MPs are from Black Minority and Ethnic backgrounds.
32% of local councillors are women, and just 3.7% of councillors are from ethnic minority backgrounds (of which under 1% are ethnic minority women).
Political leaders are not the only group drawn from the elites. About 82% of barristers were schooled privately, while around three out of every four judges followed private school with Oxbridge. According to the British Medical Association, 71% of students accepted into medical school came from the top three socioeconomic classes. A similar pattern can be seen in boardrooms, where women currently make up only 15% of FTSE 100 directors.
The Leveson inquiry highlights a crisis of credibility and trust in our political classes and institutions. YouGov’s recent ‘Democracy in Britain’ report shows that just 15% of people in England think the Westminster parliament does a good job on representing the interests and wishes of people like themselves. Our democratic institutions, including those at the regional and local levels, are perceived to be largely unable to channel and respond to people’s concerns about the current impasse.
Insecurity and mistrust have replaced aspiration and optimism in present day Britain.