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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Workshop on political trust

Published: 22 February 2010 Origin:  Politics and International Relations

The Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (C2G2) co-organised a workshop in London on 27 January 2010, along with the Hansard Society and the Political Studies Association, entitled Public Expectations of and Trust in Parliament and Politicians.

The event brought together a small working group of key academics, journalists and politicians to discuss how much we should be worried about declining levels of political trust and engagement, arguably depressed further following the MPs expenses scandal of spring 2009.

Three key papers were presented to the workshop, each of which tapped into a different aspect of this complex debate. C2G2 member, Dr Alix Kelso , presented a paper focused on public perceptions of parliament and politicians, and questioned the extent to which parliament really is in ‘decline’ and what this ‘declinism’ might mean for popular perceptions about parliament and its role in the political system. Mark D’Arcy, BBC Radio 4 journalist, discussed the media’s coverage of parliament and politicians, the fall-out from the expenses crisis, and how parliament generally and MPs specifically approach the media as a tool for political engagement. Finally, Professor Philip Cowley of Nottingham University, talked about the role and work of MPs, the notion that MPs now are much better at their jobs than many previous generations of politicians, and that, despite the MPs expenses scandal, MPs are not all as ‘bad’ as we might at first assume.

There was also a great deal of talk about what parliament might look like following the 2010 general election, when the House of Commons will see perhaps the biggest influx of new MPs in living memory: a key question discussed was whether this is good or bad news for parliament as it seeks to develop its institutional capacities in terms of engagement and scrutiny.

C2G2 are proud to be involved in this project with the Political Studies Association, which this year marks its 60th anniversary, and the Hansard Society, an established think tank in the area of parliamentary democracy. Dr Ruth Fox, Director of the Hansard Society’s Parliament and Government Programme, is now working on a pamphlet summarising the workshop discussions and debates, which will be available from the Society in due course. This workshop marks C2G2’s continued engagement with a range of issues of crucial significance to contemporary politics.

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