This morning I took part in the Committee On Standards In Public Life Seminar on the Survey of Public Attitudes Towards Conduct in Public Life. This survey had highlighted a decline in public trust in standards since our last survey in 2006. A disappointing finding indeed.
A key finding was that national politicians were trusted less than before, although local Members of Parliament were trusted much more. There had been a downward trend in trust in Government Ministers with a fall of 4%, with 42% thinking they did a good job for the public, a fall of 4% thinking they were competent down to 38% and falls in confidence about openness, owning up to mistakes and making sure public money is used wisely.
We discussed why this might be, with some saying that the question was not whether the public trust politicians, but whether politicians are trustworthy. There were calls for a better system of accountability for all those in public office. Another point made was that MPs are now using blogs and other internet tools to explain their work more fully and it was generally agreed that this was a good step in the right direction.
I was certainly fascinated by the discussion, which included experts from the academic world, journalists, local government and many other walks of life.