SEAN BLACKMAN: Politicians need to support the Nolans!

The count in action at last week's local election Picture: Keith Woodland
The count in action at last week's local election Picture: Keith Woodland
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Local government elections were held just over a week ago and the dust has settled.

Or has it?

It is still not entirely clear what the outcome was because each of the main political parties are claiming they have won.

The Conservatives point to the fact that they held most of their councils and they took Barnet from Labour in London. The Labour Party celebrate their gain of Trafford in the north and domination of London, Liberal Democrats say they have made gains, and the Green Party had it’s their ‘best year ever’.

However, The Conservative success has come more from the UKIP collapse than because of anything significant they have done.

Labour did not see the breakthrough they were anticipating; the Liberal Democrats are still well behind the two major parties, and the Green Party is yet to win a council.

No overall control possibly sums up the position of the UK, as a whole.

While there is much talk about who won, there is little talk from the political parties about how they won, except from the wider public who are concerned about the tactics politicians use such as smearing their opponents with inferences, innuendoes and down-right lies.

A fascinating piece of research by the academics Nick Clarke, Will Jennings, Gerry Stoker and Jonathon Moss in their new book, The Good Politician, notes trust in governments to do the right things for the country has been falling for decades.

It is worse among manual workers, older people and those outside London and the southeast, but the basic message is that we trust our politicians less and want them to do more.

Ironically, there is a code of conduct all those in public life are expected to adhere.

The code is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the obligations placed on them. It simply provides the bottom-line.

The Seven Principles of Public Life, known as the Nolan Principles, were defined by the Committee for Standards in Public Life and adopted in 1995, at both national and local levels.

The principles are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

Yet, since these are principles alone, there is no legal mandate for politicians to do much more than mentally assent to them, and, if they wish, treat them with impunity.

In other words, if our politicians want us to trust them, they need to love the Nolan’s – not the pop group – but the Seven Principles.