Over the last 50 years, a gap has been growing in the UK between political institutions and the people they represent. Voter turnout continues to decline; mass membership of political parties, once the most important bridge between the people and the political elite, continues to fall; and trust in and contact with politicians is at a historic all-time low. At the same time, while fewer and fewer people are turning to conventional ways of making their voice heard, the use of social media has exploded. Over half of British adults now use social media platforms regularly and we spend more time on social networks than on any other online activity.
This paper explores this emerging digital political landscape and the impact it is having on the political process, what it means for politicians, and the effects it has on the people who take part. It also includes the results of a survey Demos commissioned with Ipsos MORI, representative of UK social media users, at the height of the 2015 UK general election campaign, to study how people used social media to engage with politics and what opportunities this creates to reconnect people to a political process that many feel distant from.
Download the report here.