Lead data journalist

18-24 year olds believe Vaz’s private life was not a public matter that should affect his job

Keith Vaz MP has resigned from his position as chair of the home affairs select committee following a report in the Sunday Mirror that he used male prostitutes and took the legal drug poppers. Nothing that Vaz, a married father of two, is alleged to have done is illegal in the UK, but Vaz explained that he resigned in order to protect the integrity of the committee.

MP sex scandals are classic newspaper fodder, and Vaz is just the latest in a long line of MPs to have been caught in salacious situations by the press. Once upon a time, stories such as this would have been career-ending, but British society and attitudes toward sex have become significantly more liberal over the years.

Despite this, the majority of the British public (53%) still consider Vaz’s actions to be a public matter and thought he should resign. Three in ten felt that it was a private matter that should not affect his job.

This view was widely held across almost all social factors. Only a single social group came out in favour of Vaz - the very youngest. Just under half (46%) of people aged 18-24 thought that Vaz’s situation was a private matter and that it shouldn’t affect his job. The proportion of people who considered the affair to be a public matter increased with age, and all older age groups were more likely to think that the matter was public rather than private.

Vaz’s status as a Labour MP did not insulate him from Labour voters’ ire – with 53% thinking he should step down and 32% thinking it was a private matter, their opinion was in line with the wider public’s. Conservative and UKIP voters were the most likely to think that the matter was public (62% and 66% respectively), whilst the Lib Dems were very evenly split with 43% thinking the matter was public and 42% private.

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