Why politicians who bet on elections are gambling with democracy itself

Given the levels of public cynicism about democracy, politicians must uphold the highest standards

Any politician involved in placing bets on the date of the general election – regardless of whether they had inside knowledge or not – should hang their head in shame. Craig Williams, a former aide to the Prime Minister and a Conservative candidate, has admitted placing a £100 bet that the election would be in July shortly before Rishi Sunak’s announcement, saying he had made a “huge error of judgment”. Now more allegations have emerged.

Without commenting on those, we would like to point out that an election is democracy’s main event and to try to use it to win money is far from a harmless flutter. Instead, it adds to the insidious, corrosive impression that politicians are “all in it for themselves”, a well-worn phrase that risks becoming perceived wisdom. And an atmosphere of such public cynicism provides a breeding ground for extremist, anti-democratic voices.

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If faith in democracy is to be restored, the next government must ensure MPs of all parties understand they will be held to the highest standards. To do otherwise would be a dangerous political gamble.



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