Three quarters of public concerned about corruption in government, poll shows

Poll also shows just nine per cent believe MPs’ salaries are too low

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 17 November 2021 13:41
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Three-quarters of the public are concerned about corruption in government, including seven in 10 of 2019 Conservative voters, according to a new poll.

It comes after Boris Johnson said that Britain is not “remotely a corrupt country” as a sleaze row engulfed the Conservatives after the botched attempt to block Owen Paterson’s suspension from Parliament.

The move resulted in a screeching government U-turn and also led to accusations of government “corruption” from opposition leaders, including Sir Keir Starmer, who again highlighted the issue at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday.

According to a new poll by Savanta ComRes, a significant majority of voters (76 per cent) said they were concerned about government corruption – compared to just 19 per cent who said they were not concerned.

Defining corruption as ‘dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power’, the pollsters asked: “To what extent, if at all, are you concerned or not concerned about corruption in the UK government?”.

Significantly, among those who voted Conservative at the 2019 general election, 72 per cent also said they were concerned. An overwhelming majority of Labour voters (90 per cent) also expressed concerned about government corruption.

However, just last week, the prime minister, who has faced repeated calls to apologise over the failed attempt to create a Conservative-dominated body to review parliamentary standards, insisted: “I genuinely believe that the UK is not a remotely corrupt country, not do I believe that our institutions are corrupt.”

He added: “We have a very, very tough system of parliamentary democracy and scrutiny, not least by the media. I think what you have got is cases where, sadly, MPs have broken the rules in the past, may be guilty of breaking the rules today. What I want to see is them facing appropriate sanctions.”

Amid a wider debate over second jobs in politics, the poll also demonstrates little support for increasing MPs’ £81,000 salary, with just nine per cent of respondents suggesting the pay packet was too low – compared to 56 per cent saying it was too high and 30 per cent believing it was about right.

“Perhaps the only thing more eye-brow raising than the details of MPs’ second jobs that have emerged over the last week is the fact that Boris Johnson and the government allowed the debate to get to this point in the first place,” said the political research director at Savanta ComRes, Chris Hopkins.

He added: “Our data from last week, which showed low levels of support for MPs being allowed to take on other work, will be compounded by this new polling, with just one in ten taking the the view that MPs’ salaries are too low, and well over half thinking that, in fact, their £81k remuneration is actually too high.

“Even more concerning though will be the significant majority of the public who are now concerned about corruption in central government, and one can’t help but think that government scandals, otherwise largely confined to the Westminster ‘bubble’ may have begun to shift the needer on wider public opinion”.

Savanta ComRes interviews 2,207 UK adults between 12-14 November 2021. Data were weighted by age, sex, region and SEG. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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