I picked up Anthony Seldon’s book at Stretford library. It was published just as the MPs’ expenses scandal was peaking so perhaps a little out of date, but it got me interested in the latest figures which are summarised below:
- 35% of the UK population stated that they trusted the national government, which is lower than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (41%).
- 42% of the population reported that they trusted local government and 55% trusted the Civil Service.
- Trust in public services was higher than trust in the national or local governments, with the NHS the most trusted public service (80%), followed by the courts and legal system (68%).
- 75% of the population believed that the UK government should place a higher priority on creating conditions for businesses to thrive, 64% said they should place higher priority on reducing climate change and 54% believe they should place higher priority on reducing the national debt.
So, only 35% trust the national government and 42% trust their local council. I’ve seen some commentators conclude this is a plus for local government. I’m not so sure. By definition, councils are in your neighbourhood. A high proportion of a council’s services are universal; and even if we’re not receiving a particular service, it’s likely we know someone who is. Yet, 58% don’t trust their local council. I think that’s pretty bad.
It would be interesting to see how much councils trust their residents. Trust is generally seen to be a two-way process. If councils don’t trust their residents, it would perhaps give us a clue as to why trust has broken down.
It seems pretty obvious that neither the leadership of the Conservative Party nor of the Labour Party trusts their own members. As a constitutionally defined democratic socialist party that’s a bit of a problem for the Labour Party and one that we’ll have to tackle.
I think this breakdown in trust is dangerous. Other countries have not deteriorated to the extent that the UK has. We saw what happened with Brexit and more than anything, that had to be about trust.
Clearly, I have my own ideas, but firstly, I think we should be asking you. What needs to happen to restore trust in our democratic institutions?
I look forward to hearing from you