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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
MPs 'UK's least respected workers'
Roy Keane arguing with a referee
Footballers also fared badly in the poll
Being an MP is the least respected profession in the country, according to a BBC poll.

MPs ranked just below estate agents, government ministers, lawyers and journalists, according to the poll by BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Doctors are the most respected profession, followed by nurses, teachers, fire-fighters and paramedics.
Most respected
Doctors
Nurses
Teachers

The poll, on the Today website, attracted nearly 7,000 votes.

Voters were asked to pick their three most and least respected professions out of a list of nearly 100 jobs.

Boris Johnson, Tory MP for Henley and editor of the Spectator magazine, said he did not feel "too badly" that both his professions ranked so low on the trust scale.

No surprise

He told Today it was probably intrinsically "healthy" that the public distrusted politicians.

"It would be a pretty sorry reflection on the British electorate if they actually liked politicians.

Least respected
MPs
Estate agents
Government ministers

"When you consider politicians take away all their money, bribe them with it, impose all this regulation on them... it would be pathetic if people actually went around admiring politicians."

He said: "I do notice that MPs used not to be quite so unpopular as they are now. I'm not going to say in a party political way that this is a function of the Labour government, but you can't entirely rule it out."

'National joke'

He added: "Any individual politician tends to be more popular if he incurs some kind of personal disaster.

"I noticed, watching people watching Stephen Byers' resignation yesterday in my office, there was lots of oohing and aahing, sighing and wiping away of tears from some of the female members of my staff.


It's just not very clear to the general public what they are there to do

Branding expert Rita Clifton
"There's no doubt that his popularity soared as he went through his personal Calvary."

Rita Clifton, chair of branding consultants Interbrand, said that in corporate branding terms MPs clearly needed to "reframe".

"You've got to change the way people feel about politics, and that means really explaining to people what it is that politicians are there to do.

"Because I tell you, it's just not very clear to the general public what they are there to do any more apart from be a national joke."

Mr Johnson said: "One thing politicians can do of course is simultaneously to try to belong to one of these more popular professions.


Maybe I should try and become a vet or something - or a nurse

Tory MP Boris Johnson

"There are some politicians who are very cunningly doctors at the same time, like [Tory health spokesman] Liam Fox.

"Maybe I should try and become a vet or something - or a nurse."

The top 10 most respected professions, listed in order, were: doctor, nurse, teacher, fireman, paramedic, Army/ Navy/ RAF, scientist, ambulance driver, police officer, and care assistant.

The 10 least respected professions were: MP, estate agent, government minister, lawyer, journalist, footballer, advertising executive, car dealer, company director, and accountant.

These were respected less than a wide range of professions including traffic wardens, bar staff, IT technicians, factory workers, waitresses, call centre staff, cleaners and roadsweepers.

See also:

27 Jan 99 | UK
01 May 01 | UK Politics
Internet links:


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