For anyone in my position, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a widespread and growing dissatisfaction with mainstream politics and politicians at the moment.
It’s a British tradition to have a pretty poor view of the political class, but there’s no doubting that people’s opinions are at rock bottom right now.
Why is that? I think there are a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the issue of trust. The expenses furore of the last Parliament is undoubtedly a very important factor.
Up until then most people felt that, while they might not like politicians very much and even detest some, they assumed they were at least honest. The damage caused will haunt politics a long time.
My view is that the expenses policy is now in order, but I can already hear you saying: ‘Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?’
More corrosive, though, is the trust in politicians to deliver what they say they will.
All political parties make promises at election time and inevitably some aren’t delivered as new governments find themselves besieged by reality and issues out of their control.
But this time round it has been doubly difficult. Not only are economic circumstances very difficult, but there are two parties in government. Cherished projects from both parties have been shelved as the compromises of coalition are confronted.
It is also true that government is a highly complex, messy business that never allows for perfect solutions. Nowadays everything is in the glow of 24-hour news channels.
These two factors make it almost inevitable that a government, or opposition, will sometimes be on the wrong end of the news agenda. But I’ve not yet met a single MP who is in the House of Commons for any other reason than that they want to help make the country a better place.