A survey of 1,590 people conducted on behalf of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) revealed that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic has exposed poor behaviour by politicians and has eroded public trust that members of Parliament can behave ethically.
“Participants were visibly angry as they recounted the strict pandemic rules they had to follow, which they believed were disregarded by various politicians who subsequently faced few or no consequences,” said the survey report (pdf), which was published on Monday.
The report said that public awareness of poor ethical standards among politicians has “dramatically increased in recent months,” as survey participants took the view that “the pandemic has exposed poor behaviour by politicians that would previously have gone unnoticed.”
Participants of the survey also “spontaneously recalled” examples of public procurement contracts during the pandemic being awarded to friends of MPs and ministers, which was seen as “highly unethical and undermining official tendering processes.”
“The bypassing of due processes provoked suspicion of wrongdoing and the word ‘cronyism’ was brought up in reference to these examples several times,” the report said.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital was also felt to undermine public trust in democracy.
Cameron privately lobbied ministers in efforts to secure access to an emergency COVID-19 loan scheme for Greensill before its collapse, but escaped punishment and did not face retribution.
The survey found that 46 percent of people felt that it is unacceptable for MPs and ministers not to follow normal processes due to the pandemic, whilst only a quarter felt that it was acceptable.
In total, 41 percent of people felt ministers’ standards of conduct were quite low or very low, compared with 24 percent who felt they were quite or very high.
For MPs the figures were even worse. Just 20 percent of people surveyed felt that MPs’ standards of conduct were quite or very high, while 44 percent felt they were quite or very low.
Polling also found that 43 percent of people felt standards had got worse.
The survey was published on Monday, along with a report from the CSPL that recommended tougher sanctions for politicians with “poor ethical standards.”
The committee also found there was “an underlying sense of resignation, bordering on cynicism” that politics would never be entirely ethical, but that improvements could still be made.
PA contributed to this report.