Citizenship GCSE: Public perceptions of British politicians

In 2009, a newspaper investigation exposed MPs across the House of Commons for cheating their expenses. Since then, the public perception of MPs has never recovered.

We see how MPs are trying to change this. One way is through a new online expenses system, but it leads to a lot of frustration amongst MPs.

The behaviour in the House of Commons chamber also contributes to a negative opinion. At Prime Ministers Questions, MPs are told off for shouting at one another. Is this the example they should be setting?

Some people think that the building itself contributes to the way MPs behave and that the House of Commons should be a more modern environment. But many, including former Prime Minister David Cameron, think that we should celebrate its history and traditions.

What is to be done if the House of Commons is to win back the public’s trust?

This short film is from the BBC series, Exploring the House of Commons. This series goes behind the scenes of the House of Commons to explain some of the processes that drive British politics.

NB This series was filmed in 2013 - 2015 and some of the political figures shown no longer hold their positions.

Teacher Notes

GCSE or Scottish National 5:

Pupils could share their perceptions of Parliament before watching.

When they watch, they could note the things that have damaged Parliament's reputation, before suggesting potential solutions to Parliament's image problem.

A level or Scottish Higher:

This could be used very effectively to introduce the negative image of the House of Commons held by the general public.

Pupils could consider the reasons why Parliament has an image problems and suggest potential solutions to these problems.

Does it matter that the public's perception of Parliament is so negative?

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching classes about Citizenship. It will be suitable for GCSE or A Level, and Scottish National 5 or Higher.

More from Exploring the House of Commons

How does an MP change the law?
How do MPs vote in the House of Commons?
What is a Private Members' Bill?
What is Prime Minister's Questions?
Changing Britain's Constitution
Why do MPs rebel?
What is a Government Whip?