Voters tend to think that politicians - no matter from which political party - look down their nose at ordinary people
Labour MP Emily Thornberry’s tweet mocking a house draped in St George’s flags, and the ruling that Tory MP Andrew Mitchell probably had called a policeman a ‘pleb’ in 2012, have in recent weeks led to a perception of contempt in the way politicians view their electors. MPs are rarely loved, but these events have intensified the toxic perception of Westminster MPs and have raised the question of how MPs regard their electors.
New YouGov research for the Sunday Times finds mass agreement (70%) with the idea that most politicians look down their noses at ordinary people, and a tendency to believe that Emily Thornberry was indeed being snobbish when tweeting her photograph (47% compared to 26% who say she was not).
The tweet stoked suspicions that Labour didn’t represent the working class anymore, and were out of touch with the typical "White Van Man". YouGov’s research finds that David Cameron is still seen as the most disdainful politican, with 63% saying he looks down his nose at ordinary people compared to 21% who say he does not. Ed Miliband fairs somewhat better, with 46% saying he is contemptuous. Nigel Farage comes off least badly, with 41% saying he is disdainful compared to 36% saying he is not. However it is remarkable that even Mr Farage, who is considered a populist politician who makes much of being 'in touch' with ordinary concerns, still tends to be seen as looking down at ordinary people.
Despite Labour losing support in some of its working class heartlands in the North, it is still seen by working class people as the party that best represents them (although at 36% the affiliation is hardly overwhelming). Only 14% of self-described working class people say Nigel Farage’s party best represent them, while the Conservatives have the advantage among people who see themselves as middle class (at 40%).
It was discovered this weekend that Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt had delivered a speech to the Commons on poultry welfare, for the sole purpose of fulfilling a bet she owed to several Navy officers. The speech, which led to the MP being accused of trivialising Parliament, was laden with innuendo: she said ‘c**k’ six times, ‘lay’ or ‘laid’ five times and mentioned the names of at least six officers.