Measures of Political Trust

YouGov poll, 2011 (YouGov, Cambridge 2011)

  • • Public opinion of politicians’ ‘integrity and honesty’, 15 % agreed that this was High or Very High.
  • • On whether politicians’ ‘integrity and honesty’ was improving, 10 % thought that it was.

YouGov poll, 2012

The poll asked: ‘How much do you trust the following politicians to tell the truth?’

  • • No group of politicians polled better than 23 % on this question.
  • • In the previously cited 2012 YouGov poll the lowest rated politicians were Liberal Democrats, in whom ‘trust to tell the truth’ (18 %) was just above estate agents and tabloid newspaper journalists.

For all the incidents which could be said to influence these results, in particular the expenses scandal, the results are dismal in that no more than one in five respondents said they could trust leading politicians to tell the truth. This suggests a story of growing political distrust, indeed political resentment to match the social and economic resentment we described in Chap. 2. It is a story which contains several of the elements which can be associated with the emergence of populist parties, and in particular right-wing populist parties. These would include distrust of the political elite, disenchantment with major parties which previously dominated the political scene, the serious faltering of the left-of-centre party which has historically gained the support of much of the working class, and a series of causes—including the European Union, immigration, welfare and latterly devolution—which have generated both a sense of social and political alienation within a ‘national’ framework and, most recently, an unstable party political system. In these circumstances working-class voters in areas of social and economic decline and disenchanted middle-class voters represent, in ‘market’ terminology, demand in the political system which is not being met or is being met insufficiently by the parties who might normally attract their votes. As we saw earlier, in Wellings’ work, some of this political disenchantment is expressed as ‘euroscepticism’ which Wellings has regarded as a kind of English nationalist politics, even though the state whose sovereignty is being symbolically protected is the British or UK state.

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