Who Do You Trust Least: Politicians Or Journalists?
Trust. Remember that? I don't. I can't remember a halcyon time when people didn’t bother with things like locks or pin numbers. But other people claim to, so I guess there's a debate to be had about whether trust is in decline, or has basically always been fictional. Quantifying how much trust we place in our fellow man is difficult, but that's exactly what Ipsos MORI and the BMA have been trying to do since 1983. The latest stats are warm off the press.
Brilliant pollsters that they are, they conducted this experiment by asking people in the street (people, who are stupid enough to let themselves be cornered by a man with a clipboard, remember) one question: "Now I will read you a list of different types of people. For each would you tell me if you generally trust them to tell the truth, or not?"
Is it a sign of just how jaded we are that it's COMPLETELY unsurprising that politicians are right at the bottom? It can't have always been like this – Churchill was trusted, and you'd have leant Robert Peel a tenner without suspecting foul play, so how did they end up here, Languishing at the bottom with a lowly 14%? Somewhat surprisingly, trust in bankers is over double this with 29%. Would you trust Bernie Madoff twice as much as Ed Miliband? Probably, but only because Madoff is reliably evil, while Miliband is more of an unpredictable klutz, the kind of guy who'd swing a ladder into your face or step in a bucket.
Journalists continue to be mistrusted, with just one in five adults claiming they would trust them to tell the truth (presumably this excludes Daily Mail writers, if we can't trust them, who can we?). Presumably our reputation won't have risen at all in a week which began with Johann Hari stealing quotes, and ended with hacks stalking dead children. Still, anything for a scoop, right? Right.
Obviously, Doctors are king of the castle with a whopping nine in ten (88%) adults saying they would trust them to tell the truth. However, this marks a 4% decrease since the last study in 2009 and a return to the levels recorded around the time of the trial of Dr Harold Shipman in 2000. So, even when one of their member is being convicted as Britain's most prolific serial killer, they're still six times more trusted than journalists.
Just as some professions are immune to low levels of trust, some appear permanently diseased. If you look at the bottom half of the table you have Trade Union officials, Government ministers and television news readers. Compare this to the top half where you have teachers, da Feds and doctors. Why so? Think about your personal experience with these professionals. Few of us rub shoulders with MPs or Trevor McDonald, yet I’m sure most of us have had run-ins with the po-po and our PE teacher. The only point of reference for those in the bottom half is the media, whose bombardment of negativity shapes our opinions. If we went for lunch with errr, Nick Clegg, we'd see he was human. If we went dancing with Paxo, he might not be as dickish as the television screen suggests.
Incidentally, people trust pollsters 13% less than they did in 1993, so you’re probably quite sceptical about the findings already.
Anyway, let's decide this once and for all.