Politicians are warned on dangers of 'spin'

January 23, 2004

Politicians must develop a culture of honesty, rather than "spin," if they are to reverse a meltdown of public trust which could do irreparable damage to Britain's democratic system, Welsh Assembly Members have been told.

Professor Richard Tait, former Editor-in-Chief of Britain's national Independent Television News network and now Director of the Centre for Journalism Studies at Cardiff University, UK issued the warning at a lunchtime briefing for Assembly Members, researchers and civil servants.

"Voter turn-out fell to 38% in last year's Assembly elections, and nationwide surveys suggest only 19% of the public in the UK now trust politicians to tell the truth," said Professor Tait. "We are witnessing a meltdown of public trust, which must be addressed urgently.

"If trust in politicians and participation in elections continue to decline, it is no exaggeration to say that the whole democratic process is under threat.

"The media are also in trouble," he added. "Journalists are regarded as even less trustworthy than politicians, and only 6% of the public see newspapers as the most fair and unbiased source of news."

While research showed only 13% trusted journalists to tell the truth, 71% trusted newsreaders to do so - even though newsreaders were usually journalists.

Trust in institutions was also a cause for concern, said Professor Tait. While 71% trusted the Post Office, 53% trusted schools, only 22% trusted the civil service and 13% trusted the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

Asked whether the government of the day would put the national good above party gain, 39% believed so in 1974, but by 2002 the figure had fallen to 16%.

This lack of trust is leading to a lack of engagement, especially among the young, he warned. "Only 16% of voters under 25 took part in the last election," he said.

"With an increase in so-called special advisers and the politicisation of the British civil service," the signs are that this situation will worsen.

Professor Tait is a member of the Independent Review of Government Communications, chaired by Guardian Media Group Chief Executive Bob Phillis, which was commissioned by the Government after the Jo Moore/Martin Sixmith case, which highlighted the conflict between civil servants and Government-appointed advisers.

The review reported its findings this week.

His presentation will drew on the committee's report, as well as on research from the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University, including studies of media coverage of the 2003 Welsh Assembly elections and the Iraq war.

This was the latest in a series of expert briefings to the Assembly by academic staff at Cardiff University.

Cardiff University

Related Politicians Articles from Brightsurf:

Politicians and governments are suppressing science, argues The BMJ
Politicians and governments are suppressing science, and when good science is suppressed, people die, argues a senior editor at The BMJ today.

Facing up to the reality of politicians' Instagram posts
A University of Georgia researcher used computer vision to analyze thousands of images from over 100 Instagram accounts of United States politicians and discovered posts that showed politicians' faces in nonpolitical settings increased audience engagement over traditional posts such as politicians in professional or political settings.

Voters unlikely to blame politicians for their handling of the pandemic at next election
Politicians are unlikely to be punished or rewarded for their failures or successes in managing the coronavirus pandemic at the next election, suggests an analysis of survey data from the US, the UK and India, published in the online journal BMJ Global Health.

Citizens themselves contribute to political mistrust
People have a special ability to detect and disseminate information about egotistic and selfish leaders.

A change at the top before elections boosts MP turnover across Europe, research shows
Appointing a new leader just before an election leads to a higher turnover of MPs after the poll, a study of political parties across Europe during the past 80 years shows.

When it comes to supporting candidates, ideology trumps race and gender
Voters who express prejudice against minorities and women are still more likely to support candidates who most closely align with their ideologies, regardless of the race or sex of such candidates, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

OECD countries' politicians follow each other
The more democratic a country is, the greater the probability that its politicians decide in the same way as in neighbouring countries, without further analysis.

Examining Congress members' popularity on Instagram
New research on the popularity of Congress members' Instagram posts reveals some surprising factors at play that could elevate their influence on the platform and make for more effective campaigns.

Candidates who use humor on Twitter may find the joke is on them
Political candidates' use of humor on social media could sometimes backfire on them with potential supporters, new research suggests.

Growing length of manifestos casts new light on electioneering history
From a modest 150 words to the length of a children's book -- the number of words used by politicians in their election manifestos has grown substantially in the past century, new research shows.

Read More: Politicians News and Politicians Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.