“TRUST me, I’m a journalist” is a phrase only uttered in jest. Its professional equivalents are “Trust me, I’m an estate agent”, and “Trust me, I’m a politician”.

It’s a shame. I’ve dealt with many estate agents, and they’ve all been straight up and perfectly pleasant to deal with. As for politicians, they are by and large better people than you or I: selfless, hard working, and motivated to provide public service.

Yet a new study shows that trust in our politicians remains stubbornly low. Trust the public: always moaning.

Research by the University of Glasgow’s John Smith Centre found that distrust of politicians and other authorities was greatest among women, older people and the low paid.

Only 12.5% of women, and 12% of those on incomes under £20,000, had high levels of trust in politicians. Those earning £60,000 or more were three times more likely than those on low incomes to trust politicians, possibly because they’re doing well out of the system.

But a climate of mistrust is not a good thing for society, ken? These countries that come top in arguably spurious annual happiness surveys earn marks for their high levels of trust, not just in their politicians but, absurdly enough, in each other.

The top places in these surveys all go every year to the ostensibly trusting Scandinavians, which ought to make you suspicious right away. They’ve a fine conceit of themselves and are always “on parade”. As with Scottish islanders, everyone is a PR officer for the place; criticism will not be expressed.

We tend to patronise both demographics. Just as every Scottish newspaper article about islanders should start with the word “Aw”, like they were leaving a comment about a kitten or puppy on YouTube, commentaries on Scandinavians should be obliged to point out that, according to widespread internet comment, they are rude, unfriendly, never apologise, don’t know how to queue, and – according to me – not one of the men can sing rock and roll (it’s just a fact).

I wouldn’t trust any article that doesn’t point these things out. But, then, I’ve a low level of trust in journalists. In Britain, we contribute massively to the climate of mistrust. We pillory our politicians, never give them a chance, never give them the benefit of the doubt.

The rot set in after the sad end of the 1950s, a magical time when everybody in Britain was happy and loved their politicians. Disrespect mixed with cannabis smoke filled the air in the 1960s and, as the 20th century progressed to the 21st, television interviewers in particular moved from holding politicians to account to holding them in contempt.

Having hung around as something of an outrider with the Holyrood press pack back in the day, I can tell you they live in fear of politicians putting one past them. They believe every announcement is a con hiding a coded message urging worship of Satan.

If a First or Prime Minister were to announce an absolutely no-strings attached 50 grand payment to every citizen, the second paragraph in every report would begin “However …”, followed shortly afterwards by “Opposition parties slammed the move”. For no one holds politicians in more contempt than other politicians.

It’s a terrible state of affairs. The John Smith Centre says our distrust of politicians has serious implications for obeying Covid-19 guidance. Perhaps we could learn from the Scandinavians. I’ve met many Scandinavians and Finns in my time, and they were all splendid people.

Do they really trust each other or are they just bumming themselves up? Bit of both, I suspect. Take my word for it.

Past caring

IT’S sad but understandable to read of workers being unwilling to return to their offices.

A tweet that quickly went viral, attracting emotional comments, was posted by a chap who formerly worked for a big energy concern and pointed out all the things they used to have but don’t now.

Other posters soon joined in, adducing: tea-breaks morning and afternoon; tea trolleys; subsidised canteens; social clubs; outings; five-a-side football teams; choirs; cultural events; Christmas parties, bonuses and even presents. Now all, or mostly, gone.

It was as if employers back then wanted to keep people. That was truly how it felt. Now everybody feels management wants rid of them.

Wages were lower but so were property prices and rents, upon which much of our earnings go. Goods were cheaper and you could afford to go to the football without the children having to starve.

Of course, not everything was perfect. Most people had syphilis or related diseases; you had to share a toilet with the entire street; everybody had their teeth removed after the age of 30; and the average citizen owned just one pair of underpants.

The truth is that many things were worse in the past. And many things were better.

Five things we’ve learned this week

CITY bumblebees are harder-working than their country counterparts. A study by Germany’s Martin Luther University said they even had to commute to find their food. They should take a lesson from post-Covid humans and learn to work from home.

AMAZON has patented a system using augmented reality glasses and smartphones to display shopping lists on your hand like a virtual tattoo. If it makes us remember to buy dinner as well as booze and sweeties, it’ll certainly prove its worth.

BRISTOL Uni researchers found that Bronze Age people kept the bones of significant folk in their lives. In Wiltshire, somebody’s thigh bone had been crafted into a musical instrument. Sing along now: “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.”

SINGER Annie Lennox, now resident in sunny LA, said Aberdeen’s grey skies had made her depressed when growing up. She said the word for Scotland’s skies was dreich. To us, meanwhile, California’s neverending blue, cloudless skies sound right dull.

BILLIONAIRE visionary Elon Musk is developing a brain implant that could allow telepathic communication and memory downloading. It would be a “Fitbit in your skull”. Blimey. At least you could throw away your wrist Fitbit, as most of us have done.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.