Public perceptions of political ethics are at the heart of current political debate. Drawing on original data, this book is the first general account of popular understandings of political ethics in contemporary British politics. It offers new insights into how citizens understand political ethics and integrity and how they form judgments of their leaders. By locating these insights against the backdrop of contemporary British political ethics, the book shows how current institutional preoccupations with standards of conduct all too often miss the mark. While the use of official resources is the primary focus of much regulation, politicians' consistency, frankness and sincerity, which citizens tend to see in terms of right and wrong, are treated as 'normal politics'. The authors suggest that new approaches may need to be adopted if public confidence in politicians' integrity is to be restored.
Nicholas Allen is Senior Lecturer in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the co-editor of Britain at the Polls 2010 (2011) and is already planning the successor volume for the next general election. Sarah Birch is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Glasgow. Her most recent monograph is Electoral Malpractice (2011).
1. Why study perceptions of politicians' conduct?; 2. Thinking about political ethics and conduct; 3. Ethics and misconduct in British politics; 4. Expectations and the scope of ethical judgements; 5. How people judge political conduct; 6. What people think of their elected politicians; 7. The political effects of ethical evaluations; 8. Changing public perceptions: problems and remedies; 9. Concluding remarks.