UCL News


The Respect Agenda: new report shows voters prioritise respect

29 September 2023

The UK can reset its politics and rebuild faith in the country’s institutions by prioritising respect for ordinary people, finds a new report from the UCL Policy Lab and More in Common.


Authored by Professor Marc Stears (UCL Political Science) and Luke Tryl, Director of More in Common, The Respect Agenda finds that much of the public feel their concerns are overlooked. Many are frustrated by how those in power seem indifferent to workers' views—particularly those without degrees. It finds also that these issues have been building for some time and are a barrier to tackling the challenges facing the country.

Professor Marc Stears said: “For too many years we have talked about ‘left behind communities’ and the need to ‘level up.’ Now we discover millions of people across the country feel that they are not given the respect they deserve, by their politicians or many of their key institutions. It is time for this to change and for leaders of all kinds to work together to build a future that respects the potential contribution of us all.”

The research also shows the potential electoral benefits of focusing on respect, as voters hold the importance of respect in high regard.

Luke Tryl said: “As the countdown to next year’s General Election begins in earnest, voters are clear what they most want to see and hear from politicians – an agenda of respect.”

A central finding of the report is identifying who the public feels is respected by those in power, and who isn’t.

Luke Tryl said: “The public think that for too long those in power have offered respect based on the size of someone’s bank balance or the number of letters after their name rather than on how they contribute to our country and their local communities.”

Laying the groundwork for this report, the UCL Policy Lab worked with researchers and community partners on a project called Ordinary Hope, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, to explore the implications of this respect agenda. It will soon be releasing a special edition of the UCL Policy Lab magazine featuring voices from economics and political science exploring how Britain’s institutions could better meet people's appetite for a new agenda for respect. 

Professor Lindsey Macmillan (IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society) is a member of the Ordinary Hope project and Director of the Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities at the IOE. She believes that the project creates an opportunity for collaboration.

Professor Lindsey Macmillan said: “At a time when we face so many challenges, the Ordinary Hope project seeks to shift the narrative, to collectively energise people from all walks of life towards a future that we can all play a part in designing.”



  • Credit: More in Common