Do 60% of British People Really Believe in Conspiracies?

A recent YouGov poll found that 44% of British people believe the following statement is true: “Even though we live in what’s called a democracy, a few people will always run things in this country anyway”.

This belief chimes well with the massive accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of the global billionaire-class. For example, only last year the Guardian’s economics editor published an article entitled “World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%”; while earlier this year the economics editor published a follow-up article called “Inequality gap widens as 42 people hold same wealth as 3.7bn poorest.”

So it was a little galling to read a recent Guardian article (November 28) which suggested that the belief in the first statement, that “a few people will always run things in this country anyway,” was equivalent to a belief in conspiracy theories!

That said, after using support of such statements to make the sensational claim that “60% of British people believe in at least one of the 10 conspiracy theories we put to them” the Guardian author admitted (just a few paragraphs later) that “It is debatable whether that is a conspiracy theory or not – it might just be a true reflection of reality”. That is, the author suggests that the belief that a “few people will always run things” might be true after all.

In typical fashion the Guardian then weaponizes a belief in conspiracies in order to bash those members of the public who voted to leave the EU, noting that “we now know that leave voters are much more likely to believe in conspiracy theories (71%) than remainers (49%).”

But a more interesting conclusion that was completely overlooked by the Guardian (and the Cambridge University researchers upon whose data their article was based upon) is that people who voted for the Conservative’s were far more likely to believe in racist conspiracy theories.

The Guardian therefore highlighted that British belief in the ten conspiracies tested was lower than its European or American counterparts except when it came to two immigration conspiracies. They write:

““The government is deliberately hiding the truth about how many immigrants really live in this country”, believe 30% of respondents. Muslim immigration is particularly singled out, with 18% agreeing that it is “part of a bigger plan to make Muslims a majority of this country’s population”.”

But a closer examination of these beliefs when judged by voting preferences, show with regard the first conspiracy that Conservative Party voters were nearly twice as likely to hold this belief as Labour Party voters (39% versus 22%). While with the Muslim-related conspiracy, the voting data is even more significant, as only 8% of Labour voters support the belief that “Muslim immigration is part of a bigger plan to make Muslims a majority of this country’s population” compared to a whopping 27% of Tory voters.

Finally, another notable result of the YouGov poll that remained studiously ignored by the Guardian was the answer to a question that asked people whether the “political system currently works.”

Only 24% of people said the “system works fairly well and doesn’t need more than minor reforms”; 32% agreed with the statement that the “system works badly but if we elected the right people, they could put things right”; while 26% of people plumped for the more radical proposal: “The system is broken and it would take a total change of system to put things right.”  This support for system change is even more significant when considered alongside the YouGov poll’s other findings that a total 74% of people did not trust “People who run large companies” with 76% of people not trusting the “Government ministers in my country.”

yougovpollaugust 2018

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