In industries and workplaces up and down the country, workers generally climb the ladder by displaying a combination of skills and abilities. The world of politics is not one of those industries. Indeed, politics is curiously, and almost uniquely, known for rewarding skills antithetical to other walks of life.

Whereas most workplaces value the ability to work with all colleagues to achieve a positive result for clients or customers, the political industry views such behaviour as suspicious. Though most of us in the world of work would presume that long-term thinking might be rewarded, in politics it tends to be career suicide. And, whilst it is generally assumed that offering a straight answer to a straight question is a good thing, in politics this is a trait which is deeply discouraged.

Deeply discouraged by people like me.

I became involved in politics by accident. I had accepted an offer to join Bank of Scotland’s corporate banking graduate programme, but I had a 10-month wait before that particular fast-track to wealth took me in. I had friends working for the Tory party who persuaded me to fill the gap by joining them. I went. I stayed.

It was 2002. Peak Blair, when Tony Blair and the politics he created was about spin over substance (more on his conversion later). Specifically, Mr Blair’s success had told all political parties that the key to victory was to be clean, slick and polished; to control the narrative and robotically repeat the message until you were sick of saying it.

For the best part of a decade, voters reacted well to the polish (if not the variety offered by the party I worked for). So people like me were hired; more and more of us, by all parties, to create, craft and control the message.

We taught our charges how to stay out of trouble. How to quietly make their way without tripping up. Critically, we taught them how to fail to answer questions. How to take a question that they didn’t want, pivot it, and provide the answer to the question they wanted. I did it for five years as the party’s Head of Communications. And there’s not a single moment of it that I don’t now regret.

I played my part in obliterating the relationship between journalists and politicians, and by extension between voters and politicians. In a bubble, nobody understands that while you’re doubling down on what you think people want to hear, the people are changing their minds. It is only when you emerge from the bubble that you realise you’re travelling down the wrong side of the road, quickly. Politics is the mother of all bubbles.

People now want something else from politicians. They don’t mind stubble as long as the mouth behind it speaks with straight tongue. They can forgive some personal mishaps as long as the offender is relatable. Voters are looking for people who’re like them; flawed, but normal.

The tipping point, I think, was probably the financial crash, when the people’s assumptions subliminally changed. When you begin to assume that power is lying to you, polish doesn’t shine. "Controlling the narrative" doesn’t control the electorate.

Hitting the reset button will be exceptionally difficult, primarily due to the noxious relationship between politics and the media. There is no incentive for politicians to give straight answers, because a straight talking politician would be destroyed by the media.

For example, what if a journalist asks the health secretary, with the constantly rising proportion of GDP spent on the NHS, whether there must be a realistic limit on expenditure? 60 per cent of GDP? 70 per cent? 80?

The health secretary has two options. Listen to people like my former self and pivot to answering the question they wanted to get, saying “our NHS is the envy of the world and I want to be clear that we will continue to invest to give our people a world-class service for free” and blah blah blah.

Or to give a straight answer and say “look, we have a rising elderly population and relatively falling taxpaying population, combined with a demand that the NHS should continually widen its scope so, obviously, something, somewhere has to give, if we are to ensure that all of the other services taxpayers pay for, like education and transport and policing, continue to be funded.”

But, tell me, how many illicit substances would a health secretary have to take before they gave this answer? Because, we can be certain, that the media would use that single, honest statement to define that politician and ultimately probably bring them down. Just ask Johann Lamont.

Now, this is no more an attack on the media than it is an attack on politicians. To assign blame is a game of chicken and egg. It is an attack on our culture. It is an attack on people like me, whose successors continue, still, to drink the Kool Aid.

It is very easy for me, having been outside for over a decade, to see this. To feel guilty about it. To want to fix it. But it is agonising to admit that I’m not sure I know how to.

Much as social media and direct communication between politicians and voters will play an increasing role, the media, traditional and digital, will remain the postman of political messages for the rest of our lives.

Because of that, the only politicians prepared to risk a damaging headline are those with no skin in the game; those waving goodbye to a career, rather than saying hello. Mr Blair has not been in the spin game for 10 years. Nowadays, he takes a question, and answers it. Don’t like the answer? Fine, switch over, he doesn’t need your vote anymore.

In the final analysis, someone has to make the first move. It won’t be the media. Nobody wants to be the outlet with the headline “Health secretary starts national conversation on the future of healthcare” when readers are clicking (and paying for) the other headlines, which all say “Tory kills the NHS”.

Politicians have never been liked. But they have been respected. And they have been trusted. We have a long, long way to go before those bonds can be restored. But the first step is for us just to act like normal people.

And so it comes down to the politicians. It will only take a few. But what courage that few will need to have.

Andy Maciver is Director of Message Matters.