Shropshire Star

Comment: Why and where has it all gone wrong? Where has the trust and credibility in politics gone?

Comment by Editor Mark Drew

Last updated
One will be our next prime minister – but do we trust them?

I’ve always had some sympathy for politicians and I have come across many during a career in local journalism spanning more than 30 years.

The vast majority are in it for absolutely the right reasons. They love their village, town, country. They want to make a difference, be a power for good – they genuinely do. They are, on the whole, really good people.

So why and where has it all gone wrong? Where has the trust and credibility gone?

Of course you may say I have no right to lecture. After all journalists, along with politicians and estate agents, are right down there in the basement of public popularity.

In our defence, I would respond that we are a force for good – we campaign for important issues, shine a light on wrongs that need righting.

Many of those qualities are matched by politicians who work hard for their constituents. They should serve us, improving our lives and be there to deal with our problems.

Yet our State of the Nation Survey exposes the problem with British politics today.

Most of us don’t trust our representatives and, depressingly, a large majority feel pessimistic about the future.

The survey wasn’t scientific. It was designed to be an online snapshot – a tempter to get you to engage as we continue through a dreary election campaign. But it does expose a problem, particularly at Westminster. Frankly, after the fizz and frivolity of Boris and the frankly eye-bulging incompetence of Liz Truss, the man and woman on the street have lost faith.

Rishi Sunak has brought a semblance of sanity, but his campaign exposes the disjoin between Number 10 and the rest of us. Who in their right mind advised him that it would be acceptable to leave D-Day commemorations in France to hot foot it back for a TV interview? It was more than bad judgement, it was reprehensible.

Our leaders have presumably got to their elevated positions through skill and political instinct. But, surrounded by strategists and advisors, common sense goes out the window, and often common decency also.

And don’t think this is a problem confined to the Tories. Keir Starmer’s team are so desperate for him to play safe they have surgically removed his personality, while ‘madcap’ Ed Davey is on an It’s a Knockout tour.

So be patient with your grassroots activist when they come knocking on your door ahead of polling day – the chances are they are as fed up with their party hierarchy as we are.