Support for the government’s response is far from unconditionalby Peter Kellner / May 14, 2020 / Leave a comment
Politico reports that Downing Street has commissioned private polls to track the public mood through the coronavirus crisis. What are they telling Boris Johnson? The separate, published, surveys that have been conducted suggest something like the analysis below. It is worth delving into the numbers for they show how and why ministers are losing the overwhelming public backing they enjoyed just seven weeks ago.
The public strongly backed the lockdown when it was introduced. During the week when it came into effect, fully 96 per cent told Opinium that they supported it; only 4 per cent disagreed. Indeed, 57 per cent would have been prepared to go further, for example by banning all public transport. One reason why voters backed the lockdown was that they understood what it meant: more than four in five voters thought the rules were clear.
Voters have reacted very differently to this week’s change in policy. YouGov finds that the public are evenly divided on the new rules: 44 per cent support them, while 43 per cent oppose them. YouGov also reports that only 30 per cent think the new instruction, “stay alert, control the virus, save lives” is clear—in contrast to the 91 per cent who now say the old slogan was clear—“stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.”
A recent five-country survey by Kekst CNC found that British voters top the table in wanting the government’s top priority to be limiting the spread of the virus (73 per cent) rather than avoiding recession (14 per cent) That net 59-point “lead” for tackling the virus compares with net figures of 44 points (Japan), 30 points (US), 16 points (Germany) and 15 points (Sweden).
Voters are losing faith in the way the government is handling the crisis. Most people now blame ministers for not imposing the lockdown rules sooner. Deltapoll and Ipsos-MORI produced virtually identical figures in late April: 66 per cent said the lockdown came too late, while only 25 per cent (Deltapoll) / 26 per cent (Ipsos-MORI) said the measures were introduced at the right time.
Moreover, voters now think Britain’s record compares badly with other major countries. Last week Opinium found that we think that only the US has handled the crisis worse than Britain. Two weeks earlier, voters tended to think that Britain was doing better…