Coronavirus: Majority of public not confident in government’s handling of pandemic, poll finds

Government ‘haemorrhaged public confidence’, say researchers

Emily Goddard
Sunday 06 December 2020 14:40
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<p>An anti-lockdown demonstration in London on Saturday</p>

An anti-lockdown demonstration in London on Saturday

The majority of Britons do not trust the government to control the spread of coronavirus, a survey has suggested.

Researchers said the government had “haemorrhaged public confidence” after they found distrust had become the majority view in a series of studies running since April.

Some 57 per cent of people lack confidence in the government’s pandemic response, representing a doubling in the proportion of people feeling that way since the start of the crisis eight months ago.

Just over half the population thinks the government’s handling of the crisis has been a national humiliation, twice as many as those who disagree.

And half said they were angry with the government because of how it has handled the crisis, compared with a quarter who do not feel this way.

There has been a significant increase in the proportion of people who believe the response to Covid-19 has been confused and inconsistent, from 42 per cent at the beginning of the pandemic to 68 per cent now.

About 40 per cent think the government has adapted badly to the changing scientific information and situation, more than double the 15 per cent who said the same in early April.

Professor Bobby Duffy, the director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, which conducted the research with Ipsos Mori between 20 and 24 November, said trust in authority was key to maintaining compliance with coronavirus restrictions and building a sense of collective responsibility.

“The UK government began this crisis with seven in 10 people saying they trusted its handling of the pandemic – but it has haemorrhaged public confidence ever since,” he said.

“Now, for the first time, a majority say they distrust its management of the crisis.

“Some reasons for this shift are clear – around two-thirds think the government failed to prepare properly for a second wave of coronavirus infections and the same proportion think its approach has been confused and inconsistent.”

Despite these views, more people still support than oppose the government’s current approach to controlling coronavirus (44 per cent to 25 per cent), and this remains virtually unchanged since July when this question was last asked by researchers.

Prof Duffy said: “While perceptions of the government are declining, support for the measures is not – which reflects the incredible ongoing commitment among the majority of the public to controlling the spread of the virus.”

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