Most feel ‘powerless’ to influence change as lobbying scandal highlights power imbalance - Democracy 3.0

Democracy 3.0 poll

Date 28/04/21    Author Democracy 3.0

Democracy 3.0 poll: most feel ‘powerless’ to influence change as lobbying scandal highlights power imbalance

A recent Savanta ComRes poll for Democracy 3.0 found a majority of British adults, 57%, feel ‘powerless to change how things are done in this country’. The survey found that a majority feel that sense of powerlessness across every key demographic – age, sex, region and social grade.

The survey was conducted shortly before the news broke that David Cameron had been using his political contacts to try to change government rules, in order that his employer could benefit from taxpayer-funded Covid-19 financial support. It emerged that Cameron had share options in the business reportedly worth as much as $60m, before the firm collapsed.

The scandal is yet another reminder of the huge inequality of access to influence in policy decisions.

Not only do people feel powerless, they also feel widely ignored. In our survey, just one in three (34%) said they felt the views of their community were listened to at local level, falling to 23% who feel their community’s views were listened to nationally. And by a ratio of 2:1 (48% to 24%), people don’t feel their vote changes anything.

Agree (%)Disagree (%)
Signing a petition can make people feel better but are not generally an effective way to bring about change5313
I feel powerless to change how things are done in this country5715
I don’t feel my vote changes anything4824
Without having the money to spend on a professional campaign, it is very difficult to influence politicians5712
The views of my community are listened to at local level3427
The views of my community are listened to at national level2339

Unsurprisingly then, the public are enthusiastic in turning to other ways of trying to influence, including signing petitions. Even though most people (53%) think petitions are ‘not generally an effective way to bring about change’, they do make people feel that they are at least doing something rather than nothing.

Sadly, and despite their popularity, the vast majority of petitions are a near-total waste of time. The one exception – in theory at least – are parliamentary petitions. When these reach 100,000 signatures they trigger “consideration” for debate in Parliament. But note that qualifier: even with 100,000 signatures, on the only petition platform offering a tangible possible outcome, your petition may well go nowhere.

While the so-called ‘slacktivism’ of petition signing might briefly make people feel better, it ignores the bigger picture: that campaigns almost always need money to succeed. Voters do accept this. Almost six in ten, 57%, agree that “without having the money to spend on a professional campaign, it is very difficult to influence politicians”.

That is where Democracy 3.0 comes in. We don’t have a network of ex-politicians on our books, but we do work with the Influence Industry – lobbyists, PR experts, pollsters and lawyers, whose expertise can make all the difference between success or failure.

We work with you to ensure that your campaign gets the best professional support that money can buy, turning support into pounds, and pounds into action.

Anyone with an ambition to launch a campaign to promote the Common Good can use the Democracy 3.0, at no cost. All you need is a great idea and the motivation to get it noticed.

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