Being a politician is one of the least trusted occupations* – no surprises there then. In the UK, they are seen as less trustworthy than estate agents, PR people and of course everyone’s favourite baddies, the bankers.
And the phenomenon is not restricted to our home grown political ‘talent’. All of the coverage of the US Presidential primaries is doing nothing to help address this negative perception. A trashy American ‘B’ movie from the 1990s (I forget its name but it was all male posturing, facile spats and name calling ) gave us a representation of US politics that many – myself included – deemed unrealistic and over the top – until now.
I have seen a few US elections in my time but I really cannot recall one descending to such a base level. I still find it incredible that the USA, arguably still the most powerful nation in the world, and one that is not short of well-educated, well-travelled and diplomatic folks (OK 64 per cent of them do not own a passport) cannot come up with a better spread of candidates. But then as money, and lots of it, is the prerequisite to run, I imagine there are only so many dynastic families and billionaires to choose from.
The presidential coverage does make for entertaining viewing, I grant you that, but when you consider how high the stakes are and how fragile the world is, both politically and economically, it looks distinctly 'supersize' and that’s in a grotesque rather than a good way. There is no question that the reason the whole campaign has ‘gone large’ is due to the impact of one individual, Mr Donald Trump. And it’s not just that people around the world don’t trust him, I suspect that a significant number of people are scared of him – and I don’t just mean the ‘enemies of the free world’ wobbling on their ‘axis of evil’.
I don’t take much comfort either from a recent Gallup poll that showed Donald Trump as generally unpopular with adults in the United States – 63 per cent view him unfavourably. This still leaves a thumping 30 percent of adults who view him favourably.
Then there is the speculation that Trump could be the Democrat cuckoo in the Republican nest planted there to get Hillary to the White House. Yes, it does sound outlandish doesn’t it, but with a total of ten donations having been made by The Donald to her campaigns in the past, one does start to wonder – and the conspiracy theorists are having a field day (just type ‘Trump a Democrat plant’ into Google if you don’t believe me).
With three more primaries to go and both the Republican and Democratic conventions still to take place, I hope that the old adage, ‘many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip’ will prove to be true in this case and that Trump will not secure the Republican nomination. If he does, it will be a long, long time before we start changing our opinions and trusting politicians more.
Indeed as the ambitious tycoon himself put it so eloquently "One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don't go into government."
Jenny Marshall is a director at Camargue
* Source Ipsos MORI ‘Trust and influence survey’ published in January 2016