Using a small pilot qualitative study conducted in the North of England prior to the 2010 General election, we seek to understand why our respondents might feel actively disengaged from mainstream politics. It is argued that one major reason is because politicians are seen as lacking understanding of the local contexts in which these low wage workers live. The gulf between represented and representative is widened if politicians fail to communicate in a ‘down-to-earth’ way. This indicates that social inequality between represented and representative is a factor in disengagement, but that such disengagement is not the result of apathy on the part of citizens. Further research is required, but our study suggests that if politicians fail to recognise their privilege and politics fails to address economic disadvantage across ethnic groups then disengagement from mainstream politics is likely to worsen.
- political disengagement
- MPs' expenses scandal