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September 20, 2012

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Adam Bell

The public don't trust journalists either, and yet continue to buy newspapers, albeit in lesser quantities. It's almost as though revealed preferences are more important for identifying actual opinions than attitudinal surveys.

Diarmid Weir

'All I'm saying is that it's not just politicians I distrust. It's the voters as well.'

This seems to be the message from the cognitive scientists such as George Lakoff and Drew Westen who have looked at political attitudes and responses. What people say they think and how they really respond may be two different things!

chris

Yes - everything I've said about Clegg could be said about Kelvin Mackenzie too. But this opens the question of just how much influence newspapers have: I suspect it's much less than they think, but whether it's as little as stated distrust of journalists would imply is moot.
Of course, this is a story about revealed preference. I just fancied taking a break from my habits of sticking a fancy name onto everyday behaviour and appealing to decades of economic orthodoxy.

Luis Enrique

another piece of economic orthodoxy with a fancy name that you could have mentioned is time inconsistency

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_inconsistency

Alanhunter99

I feel the need to distinguish between
'things we think our community should do',
government and
the politicians.
Do you trust politicians is a fuzzy question to base inferences on.

Adam Bell

"Of course, this is a story about revealed preference. I just fancied taking a break from my habits of sticking a fancy name onto everyday behaviour and appealing to decades of economic orthodoxy."

Chris, I urge you to continue down this path of subtle methodological innuendo.

james higham

To distrust a politician when he opens his mouth is not to be shafted. Almost always works but still they do it.

Account Deleted

"The public don't trust journalists either, and yet continue to buy newspapers". But the purchase of a newspaper is not predicated on trust, beyond the accuracy of the sports results.

The difference between a newspaper and a political party is that there is a fresh election for the former each day. If you really find their "news" objectionable, you can stop buying the paper immediately, as many did in respect of the Sun after Hillsborough.

The problem with a 4 to 5 year parliament is that you cannot undo your error in voting for a party that then goes back on its promises. Stating that you don't trust any politician, and that "they're all the same", is just a way of buying insurance against the likelihood of disappointment, and thus avoiding looking like a dupe.

The tragi-comedy of the LibDem's tuition fees pledge was a party of political novices who never thought they would have to honour it, and a segment of novice voters (students) who never thought it could be reneged on.

pablopatito

Of course people believe politicians. Look at things this government have said, like how if we didn't cut welfare payments then the country would go bankrupt. No-one says "well, I don't understand economics, but I assume you're lying". They quote it as fact to their mates in the pub.

OK, maybe that's just people believing what they want to believe, rather than trust per se.

Blissex

«More people say they want higher spending and taxes than lower (though I'm not sure we should believe them on this either). »

The median voters wants tax-free capital gains for herself, higher spending on deserving middle aged and pensioner rentiers like herself, and higher taxes and less spending on scroungers who pretend to work for a living insteading of toiling as a rentier...

Politicians on the whole are honest: they tend to do what their voters want (plus what their sponsors want) rather than what voters say would be nice....

Tim Newman

I think people trust the *office* of politicians, but not necessarily the holder of that office. An awful lot of people spend an awful lot of time criticising one set of politicians after another, whilst retaining an almost childlike faith that a "good" politician will one day come along and be just like them. The distrust of the *office* of a politician, regardless of who holds it, is the territory of libertarians who, as you rightly pointed out, are few in number.

Pinkie

Could it be that people trust 'politics', but they don't trust politicians? That is, they think 'something can and should be done', whatever that might be, but they don't trust any politician to do it.

Keith

Blissex above has said that in effect the voters are dissapointed in politicians as they have unrealistic expectations about them. So instead of blaming their unrealistic self serving desires the voters blame the poor politicians who are inevitably going to disappoint. If the desires of the voters are not logically or mathematically self consistent politicians must deceive quite a lot of people most of the time.

On the other hand it may be that the dissatisfaction comes from the hope that politicians know what they are doing when they do not. If the politician does not have correct explanations for economic problems they will fail. As their policy response will be wrong. So as keynes would say we are disappointed in our leaders as they are not as clever as we hoped and as we do not know the answer either so we just call them liars.

Blissex

«voters are dissapointed in politicians as they have unrealistic expectations about them.»

More generally my impression is that many voters are hypocrites, and say many things and vote for another.

Politicians care very much about the votes of voters, not the words of voters, and are well prepared to pretend to listen to the words, and be accused to be liars, as long as they get the votes to be re-elected.

A vital skill of a politician is then to understand what voters will vote for, as opposed to what voters would like to happen if it cost nothing, and deliver what voters will vote for while preaching homilies about what voters would like if it cost nothing.

«So instead of blaming their unrealistic self serving desires the voters blame the poor politicians who are inevitably going to disappoint.»

It is not quite "disappoint" in the sense of delivering less than promised.

It is all about enabling and managing voters' hypocrisy.

Bernie G.

Politics is a dirty business; even Rance Stoddard probably pulled one or two flankers in his time. I think we all appreciate this, the realities of life, of politics; but our personal frustrations often lead to knee-jerk assertions, cheap talk we don’t really ascribe to. I suspect voter turnout is down because politicians are not selling people what they want. And truth to tell, all politicians appear the same (another cliché). It has become common parlance that elections are decided by a narrow demographic in a handful of marginal constituencies, and that the majority of voters are wasting their time…makes is hard to summon enthusiasm.

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