ACCORDING to a report by election guru Professor Sir John Curtice published earlier this week trust and confidence in British politics has fallen to a record low. The report focuses on the events of the 2019-2024 Westminster Parliament, and it identifies that trust and confidence has fallen most drastically among Leave voters.

It also finds that voters across the UK who are struggling financially and those dissatisfied with the NHS have lower levels of trust and confidence in government.

Most significantly for readers of this newspaper it finds that those with low levels of trust and confidence are more likely to back constitutional change.

The report was published on the same day as Sky News found little enthusiasm for the latest Rishi Sunak v Keir Starmer TV debate among shoppers at Asda Chesser in Edinburgh where I was on the campaign trail with First Minister John Swinney.

The footage has now gone viral and shows doughty Edinburgh South West pensioners telling Sky News they would rather go to bed than watch the debate and then giving a pithy summary of the case for Scottish independence. It made me rather proud of my home patch and the constituency I have represented for the last nine years.

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However, it is important that those of us who support Scottish independence and vote for the SNP at the General Election are not complacent about the impact of loss of trust and confidence in Scottish politics.

The loss of trust and confidence in UK politics has a long genesis. We can trace it back to Tory sleaze and cash for questions under John Major’s government in the early 1990s. But when Labour came to power in 1997, after the initial euphoria wore off, they made their own contribution to the problem with the Iraq war’s dodgy dossier. Then came the MP expenses scandal of 2009 which reflected badly on all parties.

Lies told by the winning sides in the independence and the Brexit referendums have particularly shocked voters in Scotland. Then we had Boris Johnson’s premiership with his unlawful prorogation of parliament and his Covid rule breaking followed by Liz Truss’s reckless financial incompetence. And on the toxic legacy of Brexit even Leave voters think it has been a failure.

So yes, much of this can be laid at the door of Tory and Labour Westminster Governments, but it would be crass exceptionalism to pretend that Scotland and Wales have not also had an equal share of their own problems.

So how do we fix this? I think we need to restore integrity in our politics and offer people real change.

Back in 1994 when the Tory sleaze scandal was at its height, the then PM, Major (above), established the Committee on Standards in Public Life which went on to set out a code of conduct called the seven principles of public life sometimes known as the Nolan principles after the first chairman of the committee, Lord Nolan.

The principles are as follows:

Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.

Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

Objectivity: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

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Openness: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

Honesty: Holders of public office should be truthful.

Leadership: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

In Scotland, the principles are extended further with two additional requirements:

Public Service: Holders of public office have a duty to act in the interests of the public body of which they are a board member and to act in accordance with the core tasks of the body. Respect: Holders of public office must respect fellow members of their public body and employees of the body and the role they play, treating them with courtesy at all times.

If all politicians conducted themselves with these principles in mind, then I think we would be on the way to restoring public trust and confidence.

However, we also need more substance to our politics, more vision, and more commitment to delivery of that vision. We keep hearing the media parrot Labour’s line that this is the “change” election. But just exactly what change are Labour offering?

It’s hard to pin down what will change under Starmer other than the faces on the Government bench. As one of the Chesser shoppers said he is a “hollow man”.

I am out and about knocking doors in Edinburgh South West most days now and speaking to voters and I sense no enthusiasm for Labour’s offering. In fact, it is pretty much impossible to say what that offering is other than more of the same under different management.

A commitment to the cap on child benefit but no cap on bankers’ bonuses tells you all you need to know.

As both the SNP and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have warned, Labour are poised to announce big spending cuts to public services across the UK if they win power. The IFS say the cuts will be in the region of £18 billion pounds.

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In the face of this withering assessment, Labour’s house mag, the Daily Record, yesterday proudly trumpeted a pledge to give an incoming Labour Scottish secretary £150 million to fight poverty in Scotland.

But, as Stephen Flynn was quick to point out, this is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the SNP Government’s Scottish Child Payment which is lifting 100,000 children out of poverty at a cost closer to £500 million each year.

Is it any wonder the polls are closing, and the SNP have come from behind to be neck and neck with Labour in Scotland?

The Labour manifesto launched yesterday offered nothing new of any substance for Scotland. Chesser shoppers were right when they said that the change we need can only come with independence.