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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April, 2005, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Has politics become too dirty?
With the announcement of a general election on 5 May, there are fears that the campaign could be more personalised than ever before.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has already urged political leaders not to engage in the politics of fear during their campaigns.

Former prime minister, John Major and former chancellor Norman Lamont have claimed that they were victims of "whispering voices" following allegations over the delayed release of papers on 1992's "Black Wednesday".

Will these tactics win votes? Or has modern politics become too dirty? Is there a danger that more voters could be alienated from the political system?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

The view that politics has become dirty is very much influenced by the media. The majority of politicians distaste bickering or "political point scoring."
Sebastian Hobot, Barry

Politics has always been dirty
Patricia, Thurso
Politics has always been dirty! I cannot believe how cheeky they are to each other and I certainly don't let my children watch them on TV. They need to grow up!
Patricia, Thurso

I am 70 years of age and I am heartily sick of the brand of politics we have to endure, it's little more than a personality cult with so-called 'celebs' trying to convince us they can run the country. Sorry if I sound cynical, but let's face it, its all about power and money!
Margaret, Essex

You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all of the time, this has been said before and its still rings true today
Brian, Neath, Wales

The trouble with UK politicians is anyone who wants to be a politician is exactly the type who should not be a politician
Chris, Stockport
The trouble with UK politicians is anyone who wants to be a politician is exactly the type who should not be a politician. What have we done to deserve to the characters that represent our country? As an Englishman I feel like a doormat.
Chris, Stockport

Become too dirty? Are you kidding? We're a long way from rotten boroughs, open ballots and gangs putting pressure on voters we're in a relative paradise! We can all hope they act like gentlemen, but when lives and livelihoods are at stake, I'm not surprised it sometimes gets personal.
Ed, London

When a lot of the electorate engage in childish and immature insults like "racist", "homophobe" and "bigot" when faced with dissenting opinion, it is no wonder that politicians pander to them by adopting the same tactics.
Anon, UK

It's all become a big game and filthier now than ever before. Perhaps they would ALL finally get the message if none of us cast a vote - what bigger protest than that? And surely not even Blair could ignore us then!
Dee, UK

The media throws mud with impunity
Bob Richardson, Welwyn
Day after day the media throws mud - with impunity - at politicians and (quite wrongly, in my view) their families. Mud sticks. That's why they do it. So politicians do it too. And it works. Maybe if the media cleaned its act up that would be a help?
Bob Richardson, Welwyn

Bob Richardson suggests that it would help if the media cleaned up its act. He is undoubtedly correct. Unfortunately, apart from the BBC and a small number of other sources, the media is financed by people whose aim is to use it to elect politicians who will serve their purposes.
J Westerman, Leeds. UK

I am so sick of public schoolboy jeering and pathetic 'my party's better than your party' electioneering. The politicians of this country think the electorate are stupid and can't see past their spin and fear mongering as well as complete opportunism to what is popular in the tabloid papers. Lets now have some intelligent debate on issues that really are important in this country and listening to the people who actually live here would be nice as well.
Cat, Cambridge UK

Politics has not become too dirty, it always has been!
Roger Berrisford, London, England

It's about time that this type of campaigning stopped and all candidates began to show a little more respect
C Preece, Tamworth
Here we go again with more spin and snide remarks coming from the Labour camp. They may well be rattled with the opinion polls showing the margin reducing, but their dirty politics campaign is a disgrace. They must have very short memories - was it not Labour who attacked the Tories for their sleaze and spin leading up to their first election win? It's about time that this type of campaigning stopped and all candidates began to show a little more respect for the electorate and their opponents rather than acting like school yard bullies.
C Preece, Tamworth, UK

I think the real rot set in during the latter stages of the long Tory government years and Labour's quest for power. A kind of fanaticism set in. Everything the Tories did was wrong. Every little weakness was cleverly exploited. "Fat cats" were appearing everywhere. All of this culminated in a party political broadcast that for its entire duration accused John Major of lying: "You lied, Mr Major" (because of tax rises during an economic depression). I think that the politicians that indulged in such tactics are now "reaping what they have sown". It's about time.
Terry, London, UK

My wife has an old book published in the late 1700's. One story tells of the young reporter that asked a very wealthy land owner why he wished to go into politics. "Well young man", he replied, "I'm going in to serve the greatest number". "What's that?" asked the reporter. Pointing to his chest he said, "Number one." Nothing has changed in over 200 years.
Allan, Canada

In dumb Britain, personality is now the only facet parties use to try and win votes as there is no real policy divide between the big parties. No serious political debate takes place as fewer and fewer voters are engaged while more and more people are obsessed with Jordan.
Jerry No, North London

Surely the duty of people in positions in power, both politicians and the media, is to offer an example to everyone else. In the past Britain was respected for 'doing the right thing'. It's time politicians and those who report on their activities stopped acting like naughty children and started setting a good example, especially to the younger generation who are always being denigrated for aping their elders and supposedly betters. I shall vote for a party which offers policies and refrains from name-calling. And I shall use pester power to hold them to their manifesto if they don't deliver.
Carol, Barrow on Humber, UK

If we get politicians who lie, it is because we don't vote for those who tell us the unpleasant truth
Jenny Day, Saltash UK
We have the kind of politics we deserve. The problem is that the truth is almost always unpalatable. If we get politicians who lie, it is because we don't vote for those who tell us the unpleasant truth. Instead we always fall for those who con us by telling us what we want to hear and promising a simple quick fix!
Jenny Day, Saltash UK

I'm only in my teens and I still realise that a lot of politicians see elections as an excuse to name call etc. Most of the time I just want to see what there going to do for my family and education not name-calling. So yes, I think that politics is starting to become very aggressive and dirty.
Tara, Harrow, London

Politics has always been a dirty business, you can't move without it being recorded by someone. I feel sorry for anyone who chooses such a career. Voters are already alienated from the political system in regards once in power the party stops listening to the opinions of voters.
Kevin Humphreys, Liverpool England

It is no longer about service, it's about power
John Bartlett, Wootton Bassett - Wilts
I will not be influenced by any claims or counter-claims from any party or party member. It is almost impossible for the 'voter' to determine truth from lies. Politicians no longer seek the good of the country and its citizens, they are there, only for their own good. If a bit of dirty politics preserves their existence then they will indulge. It is no longer about service, it's about power.
John Bartlett, Wootton Bassett - Wilts

Politics has always been a "dirty business" Labour have just taken it to new heights. They do not want to retain power for the benefit of us the people, they do not care about us. They want power for themselves, to change the political landscape from a strong proud independent nation to a state controlled nation where they have all the power and the middle classes, who pay the bills, will be squeezed out of existence. It is time to stand up and fight for our country, kick Labour out now and restore democracy and common sense once and for all.
Mike, Hove , England

When the BBC and other media stop promoting a two party system and give a lot more air time to other political parties, perhaps then the level of debate will improve.
Clive, Glos

Lets face it, it doesn't matter if either Blair or Howard gets in, we'll still be governed by Europe and America.
Phil, Orpington, Kent

No, politics hasn't become too dirty. It is politicians who are the problem. Blair came to power promising whiter than white and an end to Tory sleaze. Look what has happened since.
Graham, Stockton

I want to know about policies not about personalities
Liz Cable, Tidworth, Hants
I want to know about policies not about personalities. I sometimes think politicians behave worse than children when it comes to name-calling etc. If some of them were in my class they would be told to follow the 'golden rules' of behaviour, which most of them clearly aren't! We are after all voting for people who are responsible for the running of our country not for a gang of yobs! Mud-slinging, name calling and doing the other side down won't win my vote. I want to know what they are going to do for the country. We don't have to follow in the footsteps of Americans!
Liz Cable, Tidworth, Hants

Yes it is a complete switch-off. The TV and radio news has been banned in our house until May 6th.
Karl, London

Yesterday I saw a poster for the Conservatives: 'How would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter'. A disgrace - burglars, car thieves and many others get early release after paying their debt to society. Please can we ask the all parties to talk politics? I am sure the electorate as a whole would appreciate it.
Andy Stafford No, Reading

Politicians generally live in a cocoon have no understanding or empathy of what a lot of people have to deal with every day. It suits them of course. Has politics become too dirty? - no: the politicians have!
Lynn, Herts UK

In a democracy the people get exactly what they ask for - the majority of the people in this country get bored by involved policy description. They instead choose to buy papers that focus on gossip and mud-slinging. The politicians then resort to this to try and reach these people. All they do is respond to public demand - this is our fault. If you don't like it change it, stand yourself, just stop whinging!
Mark, London, UK

Yes! Instead of attacking each other, they should each present their positive visions for the UK to us, the voters.
David, London, England

It's not politics that has become dirty but the politicians that have made it that way with their behaviour and spin.
S Folwell, Market Drayton, Shropshire

All I want from politicians in the coming election is downright honesty and the courage to stand for their own principles
Pat Buckman, Whitby, N.Yorks
All I want from politicians in the coming election is downright honesty and the courage to stand for their own principles. No forecasting what other parties will do, but fight an educated campaign on what they know they can achieve. We are sick and tired of being looked down on with contempt, and treated as illiterates.
Pat Buckman, Whitby, N.Yorks

Why is everyone so apparently amazed? Politics, by its very nature and definition, always has been, is and always will be dirty. If you wish not to be immersed in that mire of filth, corruption and guilt by association then there is only one answer: don't vote. I have not done so for the last 13 years when I became aware that I was (as a willing voter) a foolish pawn voting in a one party state packaged and sold to the sheep under the illusion of democracy.
Max, UK

Ever since there have been politicians they have used personal attacks and underhand tactics to further their causes. It's idiots like us who keep voting for them who let them get away with it. Use your vote for a party that focuses on what they can do for your community and not what the other parties can't do. If you find one, please let me know! It's no wonder there are low turn-outs and voter apathy.
Paul, Glasgow, Scotland

The real dirty secret of politics is that our votes don't actually matter.
Anon, UK

Politics has become too dirty and needs to be put back on track
CS, Corsham, England
As someone for whom this year is the first election that I can participate in due to turning 18, I feel strongly about voting but do not feel that we are truly listened to. Surely the example set by the MPs in the House of Commons acting like school children with no sense of fair debate or manners, sets a bad precedent for the country and gets in the way of them doing their job. I obviously naively assumed that they are there to run the best country they can according to our wishes. So, yes, politics has become too dirty and needs to be put back on track.
CS, Corsham, England

Are they really surprised that the number of people voting is falling? It's not apathy, it's sheer disgust at the behaviour of the people who claim to represent us.
Kate C

Negative campaigning has always been a feature of politics. However, this has to be tempered with positive campaigning. Unfortunately, at the moment the former appears more often than the latter. Voters (particularly new voters) will be put off if politics appears to be a bunch of middle-class white men slagging each other off.
Stephanie, Edinburgh, Scotland

Anyone who thinks dirty politics is a new phenomenon should read Machiavelli's "The Prince", or perhaps "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire". Modern day electioneering is tame by comparison.
MMH, Stafford, UK

Personalities is all they have left to argue about. The Tories and Labour use the rhetoric and have the same policies on crime, immigration, the economy, the health service etc. If they didn't resort to personalised campaigning they would have to admit that Britain has a democracy whose electoral system prevents choice.
Joe, Brussels

My parents are politicians. They have given up time and effort over many, many years. They have endured verbal and physical abuse, but have served their community to the best of their abilities and made a real practical difference to many peoples' lives. Yet according to some here, they are liars and deceivers and would not deserve spitting on if they were on fire. You'd better watch out or one day you might actually get the politicians you so blithely and insultingly assume you already have.
Katherine, London, UK

British politics used to be about a true clash of ideologies and classes in which there was a clear difference of policy and a real choice. Now with the fall of Socialism as a real possibility and improved living standards on the most part, the main parties push for the same policies but with slightly different packaging (e.g. 'more police,' 'controlled immigration') and it is now the media which controls many people's attitudes, depending on how much dirt can be exposed on either side. This country needs a new party!
Ben, Horsham, West Sussex

I am ashamed by what passes for political debate in the House of Commons
JC, Worcester, England
It's simply a fact that politics is a dirty game, and always has been. The most casual glance at the history books tells us that. But, at the present time, and due to the propaganda of mass media (which includes news coverage) it has become simply infantile. I am ashamed by what passes for political debate in the House of Commons. The perception is that most politicians of whatever primary colour you choose are simply looking after their own interests.
JC, Worcester, England

Politics has always been dirty but people are now more aware of it. Democracy is still better than a dictatorship but we now have to do something to prevent its erosion as civil rights become threatened. Hostile media coverage of personalities is another sign of the creeping, negative Americanisation of the system.
M. Farrell, Rome, Italy

Politics is not more dirty - we are just allowed to see it more. What I have learned so far is that Labour and Conservative are as nasty and underhand as each other, and the other parties are too ineffectual to make any difference. I hope the Monster Raving Loonies are posting a candidate in my area, or I'll have no-one to vote for!
Mo C, UK

Sadly, politics is no longer about convincing the voters that your party is the best for Britain - it's about convincing voters that the other parties are worse. We live in an era where policies are reduced to soundbites and intelligent debate is virtually non-existent. And each party is as guilty as the rest.
M, Edinburgh, Scotland

Voters get the politicians they deserve. With many people's interests now being reality TV and celebrity watching people want scandal, gossip and spicy stories, and this seems to be what the politicians are giving them
Tim, Birmingham, UK

We don't get the government we deserve at all; the majority of the people in the country do not vote for the winning party. Is it any wonder then that the majority feel disenfranchised and dispossessed, no matter who wins?
LJS, Stockport, UK

I don't think its any dirtier than at any point before, its just I don't agree with a single policy offered by either of the main parties, so I feel utterly uninvolved. Whoever wins, I will lose and live in country where I'm charged taxes, given poor public services, misinformed and told what I should think.
Dave, London

Politicians should be concentrating on the policies
Keely, Kent

Politicians should be concentrating on the policies - what they are and spell them out clearly so that there can be no question about what they stand for. If they spent their time and money doing that, there would be no ambiguity about who stands for what. I am fed up with hearing about sleaze - I couldn't care less about their private lives. All of that is irrelevant.
Keely, Kent

Has modern politics become too dirty? Are you kidding!? This kind of thing has been going on for hundreds of years. It's the exception when politicians run a campaign with integrity and honour. Unfortunately being "dirty" is a part of human nature when one person wants something others also want.

To all the people who want 'None of the above' boxes and those who won't vote, if you don't vote for a party you want you will most certainly get a party you don't want. I get the feeling a new party is on the horizon.
Jim, UK

I ceased to vote many years ago in both national, local and euro elections. I simply do not believe one word that falls from the mouths of politicians that is meant for consumption by the general public. I refuse to give these people any credibility at all by voting for them. Year in year out I watch as politics gets dirtier and dirtier focusing on personalities and not the issues that affect the nation. I doubt whether I will ever vote again and whenever an election comes around we always try to go away on holiday for the two or so weeks of hell that is the election of our masters.
Karl, London

It already looks as though Labour is prepared to do and say anything to stop the Tories getting in. Disgraceful.
Andy H, Cheshire, England

Sadly it is going the way of American politics and nothing is dirtier then them.
Tony, UK

Dirty tricks and amusing antics are all part of the fun
Michael, Birmingham
Surely dirty tricks and amusing antics are all part of the fun. I love election time. It is so great
Michael, Birmingham

I wonder if those people who are calling for ballot papers to include a 'none of the above' option have seriously considered the consequences of 'none of the above' actually winning. As dirty and corrupt as modern politics seems to be I still prefer it to complete anarchy.
Steve Dowdy, London UK

It might be dirty but its fun to watch. Let's be honest, its become dirty because the politicians can't find any issues to give us hope and digging up dirt, like terrorism and immigration, is all part of using the fear of the masses to gain support.
Adam, Stoke, England

They can call each other names all they want, and we will vote based on who tells lies and who tells the truth. So that's the two main parties out then.
Justin Rowles, Southampton, UK

I think we need a Five Year Plan to clean up politics - let's chuck - oh, I don't know - 100m at the problem..?
David, London, UK

No, it's all become far too cosy, with the main parties basically agreeing with each other's policies. If government was more open to public scrutiny, there would not be so much dirt to dig!
Frank, Bristol, UK

Political spinners have more tools with which to practise their black arts
Patrick, Cornwall
Those who believe politics 'have become dirtier' believe in a mythical Golden Age when politicians were gentlemen who merely disagreed and summers were hotter. Politics - for which read the holding and exercise of real power - always has been and always will be dirty. Perhaps the only possible change in the latter half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries is that the maturing of advertising techniques mean that political spinners have more tools with which to practise their black arts, and that the ever-savvier voter has also become ever more cynical. It's as much a matter of perception.
Patrick, Cornwall

Politics is a dirty game the world over. Voters are generally not so gullible and they see through the machinations of politicians. Politicians should realise that once they stand for political office they will be scrutinized and all their dirty linen will be in the public glare. Even if they are 'clean', dirt will be dished out in an attempt to sully their reputation. However when voters realise a political party is using dirty tactics to secure votes they will ultimately turn away in droves. Power corrupts and dirty tactics are so widespread: we can only hope these intelligent, worldly-wise politicians will not stoop so low!
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

Dirty? It seems the whole thing is driven by apathy and an avoidance of issues that might be politically incorrect to raise!
Cameron, UK

Political power is influenced by lobbyists and corporate interests and not the electorate
Dino, Poole, UK
Politics appears to be about personalities rather than policies. This all adds up to a smokescreen that obfuscates the reality - the reality that political power is influenced by lobbyists and corporate interests and not the electorate. The only people who benefit are the political class who win no matter what the outcome of any election.
Dino, Poole, UK

One thing I really hate is negative election campaigns. If any party believes that it can the only way it can win an election is by attacking the opposition and neglecting their own policies doesn't deserve to win but sadly, their all doing it. I shall vote, but I don't know which way.
Dave, Newcastle, UK

Please can we have on the ballot paper the list of candidates, plus "none of the above" This would mean that, for the first time ever, all electors will have the opportunity give their truthful opinion of the candidates?
Stephen Brooks, York, England

We get the political system we deserve; if these tactics didn't work the politicians wouldn't use them. The public falls for this rather than putting any thought into policies, so it's the tool that is used.
Chris, UK

Sadly yes. It seems as though both main parties - fearful that their policies and track records alone may not be enough to convince the electorate - adopt such tactics to scrape every vote they can. Conservative complaints of personal attacks in campaigning smack of hypocrisy. Blair's honesty and integrity have long been compromised, so we can't expect any better of Labour either. It seems that both accept that the cynical electorate vote for the party they dislike least.
James Thresher, London, UK

Politics has always been a dirty game for most of the participants
Fiona, Leeds, U
Politics has always been a dirty game for most of the participants. The weapons used are the only thing that has changed. We know have 24 hour news agencies that leak things more quickly and paparazzi who stalk their prey mercilessly. It's more immediate and in your face but it has always been a nasty game.
Fiona, Leeds, UK

I blame the media - particularly the popular press - for propagating the idea that "all politicians are liars" and reducing the debate to the lowest common denominator. I think that most politician, of whatever colour, begin with the best intentions, but are corrupted by the very media that are so keen to condemn them. Some newspapers in the UK are so slanted it's ridiculous. I'm not proposing that all the press become some sort of organ for the State. However, the distortion of public debate that such biased editorial angles cause does no favours to the British public. I emigrated from N Zealand to the UK 5 years ago and have seen a vast improvement in Britain since I arrived. But if you read the papers you'd think that before 1997 the UK was a utopia. To pretend that all politicians are liars and corrupt is disingenuous at the best and dangerous at the worst.
C, London/ex New Zealand

Please can we have on the ballot paper the list of candidates, plus "None of the above" so that, for the first time ever, ALL electors can be allowed give their truthful opinion of the candidates?
Anon, UK

If you don't want to be part of the problem, be part of the solution
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA
Ironically, politics is cleaner now than it was 100 years ago. It's only since the war that British politics cleaned up its act. Read Hansard some time - the old records are hilarious, in a horrifying kind of way. Of course, nostalgia is easier than looking clear-eyed at history. That we are angry at dirty politics is not an indicator of declining standards, but of raised expectations, which can only be a good thing. Those genuinely upset might consider actual political involvement - from keeping abreast of what their MPs do and keeping in touch with them, to becoming involved in local and national party politics. If you don't want to be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA

If politics has become too dirty, it is only because there are no policies. The Red Party and the Blue Party are virtually identical, with the same policies dictated from the same places, so to try and attract voter interest they descend to soap opera.
Simon Richardson, London, UK

This week's spiteful little argument regarding immigration is yet another in a long line of destructive exchanges between Labour and Conservative, while the Lib Dems heckle from the sidelines. Mr Blair, Mr Howard and Mr Kennedy, could you please for the sake of the country and the rest of the world, grow up and stand up like the educated and intelligent men you are and give us some genuine leadership instead of your version of break time in the playground.
Alasdair Carie, Newport Pagnell, UK

I have great difficulty in finding any politician of any party I can believe
Karl Mabert, Beckenham, England
I don't think "dirty" is the right word - these seem more appropriate: Discredited, dishonest, untrustworthy, suspicious. I have great difficulty in finding any politician of any party I can believe. I will not be able to vote at the next election - there simply isn't anyone worthy to elect.
Karl Mabert, Beckenham, England

When was politics clean?
Chris Klein, Chandlers Ford, UK

Please, Britain, spare yourselves the spectacle of a US-style election campaign. We were asked to choose last year between two candidates whose only election message was that the other guy was an idiot/liar. Hardly the way to select a world leader and it's about time that the candidates got this message.
John Mycroft, Asheville, USA

Personally, I don't mind who my politicians sleep with, which drugs they've taken or who they've bad mouthed. I just want a politician who does what he or she promises. Unfortunately politics is not about how to run a country (that's for the economists and civil servants to get on with) it's a popularity contest and it doesn't seem to matter how they win.

The problem is that politics has been taken over by professional politicians. In previous times, people went into politics as a vocation once they had achieved success in their lives. Nowadays it is treated as a career option for megalomaniac failures who have never lived or worked in the real world. As such they are totally out of touch with what needs to be done and hence their only option is to slag each other off rather than suggest ways to make the UK a better place.
Simon, London

As an alienated voter, I feel that certain incumbents have habitually broken promises to make the country better and failed in their duty to listen to the public voice. For that reason only I look forward to the day when "None of the above" appears on a ballot slip.
Paul, Colchester

They've lost all credibility due to their constant bickering
Sass, Somerset
I am a reasonably intelligent person but I can't find the heart to get too overheated about the coming election because, try as I might, the politicians all seem more concerned with slagging each other off and spinning than in getting down to the nitty-gritty. On TV and radio debate programmes they come across as a bunch of squabbling toddlers who aren't interested in what their voters think. I fear that this coming election will have a really low turn out because they've lost all credibility due to their constant bickering.
Sass, Somerset

The only way to find out if the electorate trust any party is to have an abstain (or "none of the above") box on our ballot papers. Of course, getting them to the polling station in the first place is yet another issue.
Ashley Hinton, Didcot, Oxfordshire

Too dirty, no. Too dumbed down, definitely YES! The issues facing our country are complex, and cannot easily be explained or answered in the 30 seconds that our soundbite culture demands. Add to this the seeming inability of large parts of the electorate to perform any sort of critical yet open minded analysis of any political manifesto or policy statement, and one comes to the conclusion that democracy is wasted on the electorate of this country.
John, England

I would like to see a party that has some guts and realistic ideas
Jon, UK
Of course modern politics has become dirty. All the political parties are effectively identical, the only edge they can gain is by rubbishing someone else's name. In reality there is little or no reason to vote for any of them. I would like to see a party that has some guts and realistic ideas, not the usual stop-gaps.
Jon, UK

Politics, by its very nature, is "dirty". A politician's whole purpose in life is to get elected. They spend the next years of their life, not in the service of those that elected them, but in an attempt to be re-elected. They will say and do just about anything to gain power. Once they have power, their only concern is how they can retain it. There are "good people" in politics, people that stand for a cause, not just for elections. However, they will never reach the higher seats of power.. so we are left with the corrupt and inept.
Jane Higgins, Reading, UK

I think the average voter feels so totally disenfranchised from all the leading parties right now, that a dirty tricks campaign will have very little effect. I cannot look to any one party any more that even vaguely represents my personal views, and I am certainly not either extremely left or right in my beliefs. The continual onslaught of the politically correct brigade, and the people who believe that although unelected, that they have the right to impose their views on government, has actually resulted in a political system that cannot make any real decisions anymore. An elected government should be allowed to run the country without having to justify every single action to the people who don't agree with it. After five years, we have the option to change them if they haven't performed well. Between elections, they should be left to get on with it. Then I might know who to vote for, not before.
Richard Dixon, Herts, UK

These days, voting is like trying to pick the best of a bad bunch. People lose interest in politics because no-one really believes any of the parties are going to make a difference, they are far too busy bickering over minute details of each other's proposals to really give any thought to the working person.
Beck, Cardiff, Wales

Politics has always been this dirty. What has changed is that our politicians lack the heart, courage and ambition to deal with long-term, complex answers to long-term complex problems in this country. Look at the ability, integrity and sense of purpose possessed by our post-war politicians, and compare them with that we have now. It mattered not that these politicians were constantly sniping at each other in the background, as they had the substance to ensure there was plenty to remain foregrounded.
Mark, London, UK

Smear campaigns only result in fewer people going out to vote
Kiltie, Staffs, UK
This country becomes more 'Americanised' by the day and the forthcoming elections are just another example. The Kerry v Bush campaigns centred more on slagging each other off and trying to discredit rather than telling the country exactly what their policies were going to be and how they planned to follow them through. The same appears to be happening here. It's time the political parties woke up to themselves and realised that smear campaigns only result in fewer people going out to vote.
Kiltie, Staffs, UK

Tory says don't vote Labour. Labour says don't vote Tory. People are convinced by both, and don't vote for either. They are all much of a muchness anyway.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK

The fact was confirmed by recent elections in USA and Ukraine. The background of elections in the year 2005 is clearly not what politics in a democracy used or meant to be. Having said that, politics have always been dirty, from the days of the mighty Roman Empire till today. The difference is the number of people affected by political decisions and their consequences.
Harry Papadopoulos, Athens, Greece

Yes, it has become too dirty and all the parties are equally to blame. There is a tremendous apathy in respect of anything political, comments of "well what did you expect from that lot" and "there's no such thing as an honest politician" are quite common place. It's virtually impossible to get a straight answer - which means you must commit yourself - from any of today's politicians. I didn't agree with a lot of what Maggie Thatcher did but you have to admit you always knew where you stood with her, no spin and straight answers. If you want to win votes return to those values.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

Too dirty? Compared to other elections around the world, ours are positively clean! Just a pity that doesn't mean they'll tell either the truth or all of it. I for one don't trust a word any politician says any more.
Ian P, Birmingham, UK

Modern elections are little more than glorified episodes of Big Brother
Jim, Birmingham
Politics is no longer about issues that matter. Any voting system has an element that is, at root, a popularity contest but modern elections are little more than glorified episodes of Big Brother. Sadly, given the ignorance of most people when it comes to political points and important issues, this 'dirty politics' may be the only way to get our apathetic public to vote.
Jim, Birmingham

I always think that if politicians spend their time talking about what their opposite numbers are doing wrong, then they can't have much to say about what they themselves might be doing right.
Susie, Nottingham, UK

I would like the parties, especially the one in power, to tell me why I should vote for them - i.e., how they will solve the problems that this country faces. I am not interested in negative propaganda telling me why I had better not vote for the others. That just indicates they are running scared.
Ian, UK

Politics has always been, and will ever continue to be, a dirty game. Politicians now complaining about being criticised should be more honest in their dealings, then they need never fear an inquiry. As for Cherie Blair, if she goes around posing as a person of power, rather than just the wife of an elected politician, then she should expect the same treatment.
Chris, UK



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