MPs who take comfort in the old adage that while people don’t like politicians, they do like their own MP, may have to think again, according to new research from the British Election Study (BES).
Professor Philip Cowley, a BES Associate based in The University of Nottingham, says contrary to the popular perception, most people rate their local MP in a similar way to MPs in general.
Only a minority of people, he says are slightly more positive about their local MP than they are about MPs in general.
The British Election Study is managed by a consortium of leading political scientists at The Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Professor Cowley, of the School of Politics and International Relations, said: “After years of bad press and public hostility, it’s become a bit of a comfort blanket that the animosity towards MPs is nothing personal; it’s the other politicians who are the unpopular ones.
“But this is only partially true. In reality, the difference is exaggerated so whatever you might feel about MPs, it’s certainly not love.”
One of the questions in the BES data sample of over 20,878 people, asked about trust in MPs generally, as well as their own MP.
Though 45 per cent of the respondents trusted their local MPs more than MPs in general and 16 per cent trusted MPs in general more than their local MPs, the figures, say Professor Cowley hide some less reassuring news for MPs.
Around 40 per cent trusted their local MPs and MPs generally in equal amounts. And taking into account the seven point scale used by the BES, a full 70 per cent gave an answer that was either identical for both groups or at most a point different.
He added: “When we say ‘people’ are more positive about their MP than MPs in general, we are only talking about a minority of people, albeit a sizeable minority.
“So the idea that we really rate our local MP while hating MPs in general is wide of the mark.
“Most people rate their local MP pretty much the same as they rate MPs in general, and a minority are a bit more positive about their local MP than they are about MPs in general.
“Whatever you may think about them, it’s not going to be love.”
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