Who do you trust?


By Dave Taylor

Last month Ipsos-MORI ran a poll on “who can you trust to tell the truth”.  The results were presented separately (though House of Commons clerks might object to the term) for England and Scotland.  Inevitably the number of Scots involved was small, but some of the differences are interesting.

For many groups, the results were similar – as they are in similar polls conducted in other countries.  For example, politicians are not much trusted to tell the truth anywhere.  In England only 21% trusted them, and in Scotland not many more – only 23%.

Where there was a significant difference, only pollsters and journalists were less trusted in Scotland than in England.

While 22% in England trusted journalists to tell the truth, only 16% of Scots were prepared to do so.

51% trusted poll results in England compared with only 40% in Scotland.  Not the best number for someone who reports on polling to read!  It may, however, have a reasonable basis in that people often react to polls in terms of their own experience.  Since most polls are GB rather than Scottish based, they will necessarily reflect a different pattern of beliefs than many of us will experience.

One can speculate as to the reasons for greater trust in other professional groups existing in Scotland than in England.  The different legal systems may play a part, as might the higher level of privatisation of public services in England.

Whatever the reason –

  • 36% of Scots trust estate agents compared with 23% in England
  • 74% of Scots trust ministers/priests compared with 66% in England
  • 93% of Scots trust doctors compared with 89% in England
  • 90% of Scots trust teachers compared with 86% in England

The most heart-warming statistic is that on both sides of the border, most people thought that the “ordinary man/woman in the street” could generally be relied on to tell the truth.  66% of those in England thought so, but even more, 74% of Scots did.

Perhaps there is a message there for both the Yes and No campaigns.