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"Ambitious, connected, ruthless, rich and male" - Mumsnet users on politics in the UK

In May 2014, Mumsnet undertook a survey into its users' views on the UK's political culture: what impact it has on their participation, and whether it influences the way they vote. Over 1,200 Mumsnetters responded; the key results are below.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jul 20, 2023

In the wake of the survey, the women's ministers from each of the three main political parties came on to Mumsnet to discuss the results and answer your questions. See what they had to say about life as a woman in Westminster in these videos.

And if you'd like to call on the Prime Minister to change the format of PMQs, which 76% of you felt was "unprofessional and outdated", please sign and share our petition, here.

what Mumsnet users think about political culture in the UK

The survey found that:

  • Nine out of 10 (90%) believed the political culture in Westminster to be sexist

  • 85% did not view the UK parliament as family friendly

  • Two-thirds (66%) believed success in politics was based on who you know and which school and university you attended

  • Three-quarters (76%) felt Prime Minister’s Questions was unprofessional and outdated, and half (50%) believed it damaged Parliament’s reputation

  • Over half (59%) wanted a sin-bin for MPs who behaved badly at PMQs, as recommended by the Hansard Society in a recent report

  • Half of respondents (50%) believed PMQs damaged the reputation of Parliament

  • Eight out of 10 (80%) did not believe MPs conduct themselves well, or that PMQs was effective

  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) thought that more women in top political jobs would mean politicians had a great understanding of their concerns

  • Over three-quarters (78%) said they thought the party they supported should include measures in its manifesto to address the issues with political culture and increase the family-friendly nature of Parliament

When asked which characteristics would be advantageous to those looking to succeed in politics, 94% of respondents said ambition, 92% cited social connections, 86% said ruthlessness, 84% said being well-off, and 78% said being male.On the question of which changes Mumsnet users would like to see to the UK’s political culture:

  • 84% backed the Hansard Society’s proposal to vary the format of PMQs, including introducing rapid-fire Q&As and more open questions

  • Half (49%) said they were more likely to vote for a party with more female representatives

  • 64% wanted to see more citizen engagement (for example through social media)

Many felt disillusioned with the political process:

  • Over a third (35%) described themselves as disillusioned with UK politics, and saw the political process as irrelevant to many in the UK

  • Nearly half (47%) believed the British political system wasn’t effective at achieving constructive change to improve British people’s quality of life

  • Over two-thirds (69%) would not stand for Parliament or as a local councillor, with nearly half (47%) saying ‘it’s not for me’ and twice as many (22%) saying they are concerned about the need for a thick skin rather than the perceived lack of family-friendliness (11%)

Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet, said:

For ages now it seems we’ve all accepted that Parliament is outdated, unrepresentative and sexist. We’d love the political parties to stop paying lip service to this and to start taking concrete steps to get their house in order.