SERIOUS questions of trust lie at the heart of the general election campaign.
Trust in the parties, trust in those who lead them and trust in the entire political process.
Public trust in all has faltered over the past three years as a result of the tortuous saga over Brexit.
In particular, those who voted to leave the EU have lost much faith in a political class which not only failed to deliver their clear and democratically-expressed wish, but sought to obstruct it.
This generalised lack of trust will only have been intensified by the report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies into the spending plans outlined in the Conservative and Labour manifestos. Its conclusions are blunt – neither is credible.
Both would involve additional tax rises or more borrowing than the parties claim. Voters are likely to interpret the findings as further evidence that neither of the two contenders for Government are being straight with them about the real costs of their programmes.
This is highly damaging, especially in a week when The Yorkshire Post has highlighted how parties have sought to hoodwink the electorate by issuing campaign literature that mimics the look and feel of local newspapers.
By attempting to pass off partisan material as impartial and rigorous journalism, politics has further undermined the public’s trust in it.
There are deeply troubling implications for our democratic process in this willingness to treat truth and honesty in such a cavalier fashion. If people do not feel they can rely on politicians to be truthful, it can only result in them refusing to vote.
With two weeks left to polling day, the dishonesty must end. It is incumbent on all the parties to put truthfulness at the heart of campaigning and rebuild the public trust that has been so recklessly squandered.