Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index

There has been considerable debate over the last few weeks about ethical standards in Britain's public life.

As usual, all too many people seem to form their opinions on issues of ethical standards based not on a balanced overall view of the evidence but on what they want to believe - e.g. whether they agree with the politics of the people putting forward a position.

I think that both poles of opinion - anyone who thinks British public life is as pure as driven snow and anyone who thinks that Britain is a corrupt county - could benefit by looking at the website of Transparency International, an anti-corruption campaign, and particularly at their latest Corruption Perception Index which attempts to assess and rank on an objective basis the perceived effectiveness of anti-corruption measures in every country. 

Britain scores 77% where 100% would indicate a totally clean society and 0% a completely corrupt one, which puts us 11th equal (along with Canada, Australia and Hong Kong.) out of 180 countries. Since 2012 Britain's score has risen three percentage points on this index.

To give you an idea of the range of outcomes, the counties which came first equal, New Zealand and Denmark, scored 88% while the countries with the worst scores, South Sudan and Somalia, came in 179th equal with 12%.

So this does give some support to the PM's statement that Britain is "not remotely a corrupt country" but it is no grounds for complacency. We should be aiming for 100%.

Transparency International points out here that even the 25 least corrupt countries in the world - of which Britain is one - have their own corruption challenges and all need to do better. We cannot afford complacency where ethical standards are concerned.

Indeed, I would argue that if anyone tells you that the political party they support, or their country, is completely free from corruption, that is itself a red flag - they will not necessarily be corrupt themselves but it indicates a dangerous degree of confirmation bias and complacency.

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