The Standards Commission is an independent body whose purpose is to encourage high ethical standards in public life through the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for councillors and those appointed to the boards of devolved public bodies.
1st February 2022
We expect politicians and others in public life to lead. They are responsible for making decisions that impact almost every aspect of our lives, from how we are protected, to the services we receive and the tax we pay.
Leadership has been of particular importance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Central and local governments have made decisions that have had a huge impact on our health and well-being, the economy, and even our rights and freedoms.
It is essential, therefore, that individuals in public life make decisions in the public interest, and not of themselves or their friends, family or even their political party. But it is also essential that they maintain the public’s trust.
Trust is a crucial element for an effective democracy. A democracy cannot function properly if the public do not trust public institutions and bodies. This is because delivery of public policies and services depend largely on the response from the public. We are required to comply with the law and observe guidelines and regulations in all aspects of our lives, from paying tax to wearing seatbelts when we drive. During the pandemic, we’ve been required to follow the rules and guidelines to try to stop the spread of the virus and to protect others and the NHS.
A lack of trust in politicians and others in public life can also have an adverse effect on participation. Members of the public may be discouraged from standing for office if they have no faith in those in charge. We need as many people as possible to participate in a democracy, to ensure all views and interests are represented.
One of the key principles of public life (commonly known as the ‘Nolan principles’) is leadership. It notes that holders of public office should exhibit the principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
It is vital that politicians and those in public life promote and support the key principles through leadership. They must set an example with their own behaviour to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of their role and the country’s democratic institutions.
The public has a right to expect this of our leaders.