The Political Division Index

This report from the UK think tank Demos looks at the idea that the Brexit referendum has led to a more divided nation.

The idea that the Brexit referendum has split Britain into two opposing camps, leading to an ever more divisive politics, is one frequently repeated. Demos’ new report, The Political Division Index, looks to test this idea of a divided nation in order to find a path to a better public debate after Brexit. We define division as a problem not with disagreement as such, but with the quality of the public debate. This report maps the quality of the political debate as perceived by British voters on ten current political issues. By analysing where the debate is divisive and toxic, and where it is healthy, this report identifies means to achieving and sustaining a healthier public debate.

The results of the report should primarily serve as a call to action, and give us a reason to hope for progress: we should promote the elements of a healthy debate such as empathy and a push for compromise. Converging opinions and increased empathy among those who disagree requires conversations among citizens which cover the full spectre of motivations and values towards a particular issue. Demos intends to take this work forward by using innovative online deliberation tools, as well as many more conversations, to test these means and create a blueprint for a better public debate. We identify the clear need for more research in this field. We further call upon those who have the power to shape the public debate, not to deepen our divisions, but instead show us what compromise and good quality debate looks like.

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