The Trust Factor: Introduction

Brooks, Thom (2022). Introduction in The Trust Factor. Methuen, 2022.

9 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022

See all articles by Thom Brooks

Thom Brooks

Durham University; School of Government and International Affairs

Date Written: January 5, 2022


Trust is fundamental to our everyday lives. We trust others to not attack us walking to work. We trust other drivers to keep to their side of the road. We trust bus drivers to stay on the road and not veer off a cliff. We trust our schools to keep our children safe from harm. We trust that our salaries get paid into our accounts on time and trust it will remain in the bank until it’s spent. We trust a contract for employment or owning a house is worth the paper it’s written on. We trust that when someone breaks the law and gets caught that he or she will be punished.

A world without trust is a world too chaotic and frightening to imagine. Every passer-by is a potential threat, no one is truly safe and law is an ideal rather than reality. We would have anarchy instead of community, alienated separation instead of working together and most of what we take for granted everyday would give way a more difficult and unjust life for all.

Trust is also essential for our democracy. It’s its life’s blood. We trust our political leaders and institutions to put the public interest before their own personal or partisan advantage. We know no system is perfect and that our big challenges rarely have only one right answer, but we expect our leaders to be honest, competent and compassionate to a considerable degree – and above what we expect in each other at our workplaces. We can easier tolerate a mistake at the office than an error at the Home Office, especially when the former is running late for a group meeting and the latter is failing to protect our national borders. When our political leaders make mistakes, we normally expect such breaches to be punished harshly either in the polls or at the ballot box. Retaining public confidence is more important than doing a good job honestly.

But perhaps not any longer. We can now see clear signs of a deepening political crisis that’s fuelled by a lack of trust in government and all things mainstream, including news media. This carries significant and damaging consequences for the future of our democracy as it hastens the fragmentation and polarisation of our communities.

Keywords: Trust, Trump, Brexit, democracy, justice

JEL Classification: K00, K19

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Thom, The Trust Factor: Introduction (January 5, 2022). Brooks, Thom (2022). Introduction in The Trust Factor. Methuen, 2022., Available at SSRN:

Thom Brooks (Contact Author)

Durham University ( email )

Durham Law School
Durham University
Durham, County Durham DH1 3ET
United Kingdom
+441913344365 (Phone)


School of Government and International Affairs ( email )

Durham, DH1 3HP
United Kingdom


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