Most British voters say political parties are corrupt

Press Release

Most British voters (51%) say that political parties are corrupt.

Research by ICM, conducted the day after the final leaders’ debate, shows that trust in political parties remains low, even following four weeks of intense campaigning.

The ICM survey also revealed that almost one in three (30%) UK voters wanted their MP to be independent of a political party. This puts the level of support for independents close to that polled for each of the three main parties.

More than one in four (28%) also thought an independent MP would represent them better in parliament. 18 to 24 year old voters were the most likely to agree that political parties are corrupt, as well as the most supportive of independent MPs.

Many voters still can’t see the difference between the political parties at this late stage in the campaign. A new ComRes poll reveals that four in ten voters (38%) are still undecided about who to vote for. The figure was even higher in marginal seats where almost half of respondents (46%) told the final Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll that they are still undecided. Foreign Secretary David Miliband described the number as “unprecedented”. Independent candidates offer the only alternative to political party candidates.

The findings are supported by a survey for Transparency International across 69 countries last year that found political parties were viewed as the most corrupt institutions in society, ahead of the civil service, police, judiciary, parliament, media and private sector. Almost one in three (30%) British respondents selected political parties as the most corrupt institution in society, just ahead of the global average.

Former independent MP, Martin Bell, is looking to increase the number of independents elected by backing the Independent Network, a non-profit organisation that provides support to candidates who are not members of political parties.

“The swing voter is tired of monkeying around,” said Brian Ahearne, Director of the Independent Network. “A vote for the status quo is a wasted vote. The only alternative to political parties is to vote for an independent candidate. As they are not members of a political party, they can represent their constituency more effectively. Independent candidates are guided by considered evidence, their real world experience and expertise, their constituencies and their consciences, not a political party, pressure group or party whip.”

Mr Ahearne continued, “The electorate must not be confused into believing that their vote is for a leader or political party, when in fact on May 6th they will be voting for a local constituency MP.”

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Notes to Editors:

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The Independent Network is a loose non-profit association that provides support to Prospective Parliamentary Candidates who do not belong to a political party. The Independent Network was set up to provide support for independent candidates, as no other organisation existed to support them.

Independent candidates do not have access to a large national party structure with its human and financial resources.  The Independent Network was formed to attend to this inequality and continues to encourage the electorate to acknowledge the success and influence that independents are having in local Government and can have in Parliament.

The Independent Network does not impose any political views on the individuals and parties it supports or that support the Independent Network. However, affiliates of the Independent Network must be non-racist and non-discriminatory and adhere to The Bell Principles.

The Bell Principles require that all endorsed independent candidates:

  • abide wholeheartedly by the spirit and letter of the Seven Principles of Public Life set out by Lord Nolan in 1995: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership
  • be guided by considered evidence, their real world experience and expertise, their constituencies and their consciences
  • be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip
  • be non-discriminatory, ethical and committed to pluralism
  • make decisions transparently and openly at every stage and level of the political process, enabling people to see how decisions are made and the evidence on which they are based
  • listen, consulting their communities constantly and innovatively
  • treat political opponents with courtesy and respect, challenging them when they believe they are wrong, and agreeing with them when they believe they are right
  • resist abuses of power and patronage and promote democracy at every level
  • work with other elected independents as a Group with a chosen spokesperson
  • claim expenses, salaries and compensation openly so the public can judge the value for money of their activities