New polling by Ipsos MORI shows that the British public are less likely to trust politicians to tell the than estate agents, bankers and journalists.
Just 16% of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth compared with 22% trusting journalists and estate agents and 31% who trust bankers.
This question has been asked consistently since 1983, making it the longest-running series on trust in key professions in the UK. This helps highlight that low trust in politicians is long-standing: only 18% trusted them to tell the truth in 1983, and they reached a low point of only 13% trusting them in 2009, in the wake of the expenses scandal.
Other key findings include:
- Doctors remain clearly the most trusted profession, with 90% trusting them to tell the truth
- Other key public service professions are also highly trusted, including teachers (86%), the police (66%) and civil servants (55%)
- Civil servants in particular have seen a large increase in trust since 1983: only 25% said they trusted civil servants to tell the truth in 1983 compared with 55% now
- There has also been a consistent increase in trust in scientists in recent years: now 83% trust scientists to tell the truth, compared with 63% in 1997
- In contrast, trust in the clergy/priests has declined significantly, from 85% in 1983 to 71% now
- Trust in bankers has bounced back from 2013, when only 21% trusted them to tell the truth to 31% saying they trust them now
- Managers in the NHS have also seen an increase in trust, from 40% when it was last asked in 2011 to 49% now
Bobby Duffy, Director of the Social Research Institute at Ipsos MORI said:
“These long term trends remind us that the crisis of trust in politicians is nothing new – we were measuring similarly low levels of trust over 30 years ago. But that doesn’t make it any less serious a challenge, particularly as we come up to an election that will be fiercely fought. This long-running study also shows that trust levels are not fixed, and do shift as the context changes – which is seen particularly in the increasing trust in scientists and civil servants and decreasing trust in the clergy. ”
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,116 adults aged 15+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 5th – 19th December 2014. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. Where percentages do not sum to 100 this may be due to computer rounding.