Do you value honesty? What about selflessness, integrity or objectivity? And accountability? Or openness and leadership?

These are questions I have been asking in a recent series of student talks I was invited to give by Bury schools.

I’ve been inspired at the importance young people also put on these principles. They are known as the Nolan Principles of public life.

Towards the end of the John Major government, the then Prime Minister, exasperated by his Conservative colleagues’ behaviour, commissioned Lord Nolan to establish guiding principles for public life.

It followed an eye watering level of parliamentary law breaking, ministerial misdemeanour and wrongdoing.

What came was a watershed moment that confirmed expected standards for all those seeking public office.

The Labour government that followed shortly afterwards endorsed them all.

My talk, From School Life to Public Life, asks students what areas of school life the Nolan Principles might best apply to? We discuss the value they put on each of them and discuss examples.

The students ask engaging questions and show a real appetite for engagement.

The absence of these principles in public life in recent years has led to a real despondency in our politics.

The effect has left many feeling defeated by such behaviours not determined.

The lyric of a famous punk song tells us, anger is an energy. I agree. On the doors, engagement is key. Even if angry, it is engagement. It is apathy that is hardest to crack.

We need engagement in our politics if we are to change anything.

For what Britain is thinking, ask Bury. And Bury North is the most marginal seat in the country.

Never a redwall but a bell-weather. A telltale seat. Sentiments, including the levels of anger or apathy, on the doors shift and shape with even the slightest change in political polling.

After 13 years of breakage under the Tories.

There’s quite a lot to be angry about. Rising child poverty, now nearing 40 per cent in Bury North, shredded budgets, diminished high-streets, impossible NHS and GP wait times, crumbling school buildings, mortgages and rents through the roof.

Bury Times: Children in Bury are living in povertyChildren in Bury are living in poverty (Image: Public)

One of the biggest lowlights of this record in office is the political malaise among many voters.

A curse on all your houses, if you will. And I for one, want to combat this.

Recent debate has focused on whether Labour promise the earth in the run up to the election.

Difficult decisions have been taken in public.

With an honest assessment of the howling economic mess this government will be leaving if it is kicked out of office. But there are no easy decisions.

Financial responsibility is no surprise to us in Bury, with so many of us struggling to make ends meet.

No matter how generous agreeing with the latest call for spending can sound in a news cycle or interview.

Those who want a Labour government to tackle, honestly, the difficult circumstances and challenges we face is growing in number.

So too must our shared faith in what we can achieve, with change you can trust.

Just as I have told our young people recently, the principles of public life apply to everyday life and I for one continue to live by them.

James Frith is the Labour Candidate for the general election. He served as MP for Bury North between 2017-19 and hopes to again. He tweets @JamesFrith Contact