UCL Uncovering Politics

How should politicians’ behaviour be regulated?

Episode Summary

This week we ask: How should politicians’ behaviour be regulated? How, that is, can we best ensure that politicians are honest, play fair, and do a decent job?

Episode Notes

Questions about politicians’ behaviour have been high on the political agenda here in the UK in recent months and years. 

Boris Johnson’s premiership was dogged – and ultimately ended – by allegations that he was serially dishonest and tolerated bullying and other misconduct from his inner circle. Liz Truss sidelined independent sources of expertise and presided over catastrophic policy failure. And Rishi Sunak – though he entered Downing Street promising integrity, professionalism, and accountability – appointed a Home Secretary who only six days previously had left government for breaching the Ministerial Code, installed two other ministers against whom there are allegations of bullying, and (at the time of recording) yet to appoint an Ethics Adviser.

So how can we ensure high standards of behaviour from our politicians? Can we rely simply on political accountability, and the disciplining role of the ballot box? Or do advisers, regulators, and perhaps even judges need also to play a role?

This week our host Professor Alan Renwick is joined by two real experts:

Professor Robert Hazell, who founded the UCL Constitution Unit in 1995 and remained its Director until 2015. 

Sir Peter Riddell, Honorary Professor in the UCL Department of Political Science, ex- Political Editor of the Financial Times and Chief Political Commentator at the Times, Director and Chief Executive of the Institute for Government between 2012 and 2016, and Commissioner for Public Appointments from 2016 until 2021.


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