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Dec 19th, 2021

Voters want honest leaders, but feel let down by the government

By 38 Degrees team

By Ellie Gellard, Strategy Director

The row over Christmas parties held in No 10 Downing Street has further eroded people’s faith in the government. That’s the key finding of a new tracking poll from campaign group 38 Degrees – and our supporters who voted Conservative in the past are furious.


We regularly conduct polling into the health of our democracy, looking at how people feel political leaders, and government as a whole, uphold the ‘Nolan’ principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. Here are some of the key findings:


      • More than half (51%) of 2019 CONSERVATIVE VOTERS think Boris Johnson is dishonest, new bombshell polling reveals – a MASSIVE 8% jump in the last month, following numerous Christmas party scandals revealed by the Daily Mirror.


      • More Conservative voters now say Boris Johnson DOES NOT uphold principles of selflessness, integrity, accountability, openness, honesty, than say he does.


      • More than half (51%) of Conservative voters think the Government DOES NOT act with integrity and 53% say it’s DISHONEST – even MORE than when voters were asked the same questions in the wake of the Owen Paterson second jobs scandal.


      • Two thirds of ALL voters (68%) think the PM is dishonest, and 63% think he lacks integrity.


    The poll numbers are part of regular tracking polling for 38 Degrees by respected pollsters Survation. The 38 Degrees community of supporters say they want fairer, more respectful politics, and this new polling highlights the extent to which they’re being let down by the Government.


    Conservative voters share their OUTRAGE – and tell the Government to FIX THIS MESS. Here are just three quotes from the hundreds we have received:


      • “I no longer trust the Conservative party and have only ever voted for them. I feel like they are corrupt…I don’t think the government have given us anything to trust them on bar from vaccines.” – Catriona, Conservative Party voter in Norwich North


      • “I have always supported Boris but this complete disregard for what most people were experiencing together with his total lack of taking responsibility for what happened has made me feel a complete lack of confidence in his judgement. I think we should be able to expect our prime minister to be honest and to take responsibility rather than lay blame on others.” – Alan, Conservative Party voter in Don Valley


      • “I am 72 years old and have voted for the Conservatives all my life. To be honest mainly because there was no other party, in my opinion, who had the wherewithal to run the country. Unfortunately the behaviour of many elected Conservative members have destroyed my faith in their ability to continue to lead this country out of the brutalized economy caused by Covid. The disgusting behaviour committed by these privileged morons who blatantly flout the rules by attending parties, the people who organise these parties, the people who travel to their 2nd,3rd or even 4th property when told not to. These people are laughing at us, laughing at our gullibility.” – Susan, Conservative Party voter in Moray.


    More than 84,000 members of the public have also signed a
    38 Degrees open letter calling for Boris Johnson to “come clean about what happened, and pay a fine.”


    “Voters want honesty from the country’s leaders – it’s a basic sign of respect.” Now the public’s verdict is in. In the wake of the Downing Street Christmas party scandals exposed by the Daily Mirror, the majority of Boris Johnson’s own voters now think he’s lying.


    Whether it’s ignoring the rules they’ve set, or trying to rewrite them, this government is haemorrhaging public trust.


    But there is hope – local MPs can still command some public confidence. Conservative MPs in particular have the power to change this. It’s now clear that their own voters – and the wider public –  will have their backs if they speak out and tell the PM: show voters some respect.


    The polling was carried out by Survation and commissioned by 38 Degrees. The fieldwork was conducted between 13th-14th December 2021, with a population sample of 2,039 residents 18+ living in the UK. Full Data tables and methodology can be found here.

    The research asked respondents to rate the government and other political figures on the seven Nolan principles of public life – ethical standards people who hold public office must follow: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. The measure was brought in under then Prime Minister John Major in 1995, following the ‘cash for questions’ scandal. More info here.

    The first round of this research was reported by the Mirror here.

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