BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour last night carried a package looking at attitudes to MPs with outside interests. It drew, in part, on this paper (co-written with Rosie Campbell of Birkbeck College) which examines British public attitudes to MPs who have outside interests. Utilizing survey experiments it demonstrates preferences more complex than those revealed by traditional survey instruments.
Voters respond to both the size and the source of income. They do not respond negatively to all second incomes; they are more sympathetic to the entrepreneur who continues to draw an income than medical doctors or lawyers who continue to practice. They are most hostile to politicians who take on part-time company directorships.