A new poll by J.L. Partners, commissioned by Spotlight on Corruption, finds that by huge margins all voters want to see wide ranging reforms to standards in public life. Support for change is strongest amongst those who voted Conservative in 2019 but no longer support the party.
Those reforms include(Support % –Public/Conservative voters/Conservative Defectors):
- Putting the code of conduct for ministers into law (80%/78%/85%)
- More transparency about who is meeting ministers (80%/78%/85%)
- Creating a new independent Ethics Commission (76%/72%/81%)
- More independence in public appointments (74%/72%/78%)
- More powers and independence for ethics regulators (70%/67%/75%)
The poll also found:
A majority of people say that their MP supporting stronger rules would make them more likely to vote for them (54%), 32% say no difference and 7% less likely. Conservative Defectors are disproportionately likely to feel that this would affect their vote (saying ‘more likely’ by a margin of 53 points)
Voters who left the Tories since 2019 strongly think the current regulators do not have enough power – 59% to 21%.
When asked which attributes people look for in a politician, the top attribute is Honest (20%), followed by “Can be trusted” (16%). ‘Honest’ scores even higher on 23% for Conservative Defectors.
An MRP constituency-level analysis revealed:
– No constituency in the country thinks regulators have enough power
– Every constituency is more likely to vote for an MP who supports new rules
Spotlight on Corruption’s Executive Director, Susan Hawley, said:
“Ethics and integrity in public life are important for the functioning of government, but this research proves they are important to the public too. In recent years, our system for maintaining high standards has been tested to breaking point and voters are hungry for change. Our research shows people value honesty in their politicians more than anything else, and they want to vote for MPs who back change.
All parties need to back an agenda to improve standards in public life. We need to build cross-party consensus on rebuilding trust in politics. This means greater independence and more powers for regulators, tougher rules on transparency and the revolving door between government and business, and clearer, fairer rules on public appointments”.
The poll also shows agreement with the following statements: (General public support / Conservative Voter support / Defectors):
- The code of conduct for ministers should be put into law and should include requirements to be honest and ethical (80/78/85)
- There should be much more transparency about who is meeting ministers to influence their decisions, and penalties when this information isn’t published (80/78/85)
- There should be a new independent Ethics Commission that can investigate and sanction politicians (76/72/81)
- Public appointments like the head of the National Crime Agency should be done in a way that is more independent from politicians than they are (74/72/78)
- The current regulators of ethics should be given more powers and more independence (70/67/75)
- The body that polices former politicians taking jobs in businesses when they leave office to prevent conflicts of interest should be given much more teeth (66/65/71)
- Voters who left the Tories since 2019 strongly think the current regulators do not have enough power – 59% to 21%
- A majority of people say that their MP supporting stronger rules would make them more likely to vote for them (54%), 32% say no difference and 7% less likely. Conservative Defectors are disproportionately likely to feel that this would affect their vote (NET + 53)
- When asked which attributes people look for in a politician, the top attribute is Honest (20%), followed by “Can be trusted” (16%). ‘Honest’ scores even higher on 23% for Conservative Defectors
- 70% have no confidence in the current system for investigating and punishing ministers who break the rules
- Regardless of party support, people (79% vs 21%) think independent regulators should decide on sanctions for Ministers who have broken the rules: only 13% of Conservatives say it should be the PM
- Exactly half (50%) say that sleaze and abuse of powers is the same from all parties, with 32% saying it is more likely to come from the Conservatives and just 9% Labour
- 79% say an independent regulator should take the final decision in adjudicating on ministerial behaviour; just 21% think the PM should. (Including 71% of current Tory voters)
- 71% believe we cannot trust politicians to police their own behaviour
- From public appointments and contracts to post-ministerial jobs and party funding, Conservative Defectors are much more likely to view processes as unfair than the rest of the population
- The country is split down the middle on whether the problem of sleaze has got worse (51%) or has always been this way (49%) – a big divide on party lines here with Conservatives saying the latter and Labour voters saying the former
- There is little confidence in the system for investigating and punishing ministers (just 30%), and most think there is a major problem with the system (62%)
J.L. Partners polled a nationally representative audience of 4,127 adults in Great Britain. Fieldwork took place between 13th – 20th June 2022.
The full tables are available at JL Partners