More than a QUARTER of people in England now have ‘no confidence’ in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, poll reveals
- Lack of confidence in UK Government has increased four-fold in six months
- But in Scotland and Wales the dips in confidence are not as large
- Scientists said survey reflected withered attitudes due to mounting fiascoes
More than a quarter of people in England have ‘no confidence’ in the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a poll has revealed.
This is a four-fold increase over the last six months and suggests the public were in favour of the original lockdown but have been less impressed by officials rules as time has gone on.
The proportion of those with ‘full confidence’ in the Prime Minister has also taken a nose-dive heading to a record low of less than five per cent.
Boris Johnson has became less visible to the public as the outbreak waned and blunders such as him getting lockdown rules wrong live on television may have dented public opinion.
But the drop in confidence in Westminster spin-doctors across England was not matched in other parts of the country.
In Wales almost six per cent of people said they had ‘no confidence’ in their Government.
And in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon gazumped Boris again as only one in 10 said they had no faith in her restrictions, but the number with ‘full confidence’ rose from ten per cent at the start of lockdown to 17 per cent.
The scientists said their survey – carried out in the week up to September 28 – reflected the damaging impact of fiascoes such as Dominic Cummings 264-mile trip to Barnard Castle and the failure to get the testing regime working.
Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt, from University College London, said: ‘Confidence levels in the Government have decreased markedly in England since the beginning of lockdown.
‘This loss of confidence could be down to perceived government mismanagement of the pandemic coupled with a high number of Covid-19 cases in England.
‘Early easing of lockdown in England and scandals such as government adviser Dominic Cummings’ journey to Barnard Castle appear to have contributed to the fall.’
She added: ‘The rising numbers of cases could also be to blame for the loss of confidence in Scotland and Wales, although both Scottish and Welsh devolved governments have seen a smaller reduction in confidence than the UK Government.
‘This loss of confidence is deeply concerning as it is related to people’s willingness to follow guidelines and rules. It is vital that the Government listens to people’s concerns and tries to rebuild people’s trust.’
The poll established attitudes by asking its 70,000 respondents to rate from one to seven – one being not at all and ten being completely – how confident they were in their Government. It has been running for 28 weeks.
Those that marked a one were considered to have ‘no confidence’ in the authorities, while those that marked a seven had ‘full confidence’.
The research suggests confidence in England dipped to new lows in the most recent period of the study, the second half of September.
Some 56 per cent recently reported having no confidence on balance in the Covid-19 response, up from 25 per cent at the start of lockdown on March 23.
The sharpest drops in confidence appeared to have happened in April towards the end of lockdown and as it was eased in May.
This also coincided with public knowledge of Mr Cummings’ potentially regulation-breaking movements at the height of the crisis, which was revealed by newspapers on May 22.
Only six per cent of people reported having no confidence at all in the Government’s handling in March, but this has increased to 27 per cent.
First ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford appear to command far greater confidence.
Those reporting to not have confidence on balance in the Scottish Government’s handling decreased from 33 per cent in March to 26 per cent at the end of September.
The research does suggest confidence in Scotland has declined in the past two weeks of the study and is down from a high in the middle of July.
In Wales, 26 per cent reported not having confidence at the start of lockdown, a figure which was nearly identical at the end of September at 25 per cent. But confidence does appear lower than a high in mid-August.
Individuals in England were asked to rate how much confidence they had in the central Government’s handling from one, being not at all, to seven, lots. In Scotland and Wales, the same question was asked but for the devolved administrations.
BORIS JOHNSON APOLOGISES AFTER GETTING RULES WRONG ON LIVE TELEVISION
Boris Johnson was last month lampooned and urged to ‘get a grip’ after becoming muddled with the North East’s lockdown rules, forcing him to make a rare apology for ‘misspeaking’.
In a toe-curling episode that mirrored comedian Matt Lucas’s Great British Bake-Off spoof of government bumbling, the PM floundered as he was grilled on how the restrictions work – suggesting that households could still mix in groups of six indoors.
To cap his embarrassment, Mr Johnson then had to tweet to clear up the confusion, saying he had misspoken and households will not be allowed to mix indoors, regardless of numbers.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner claimed the PM did not understand the rules he is imposing on two million people.
She added: ‘For the Prime Minister to not understand his own rules is grossly incompetent. These new restrictions are due to come into force across huge parts of the country… The Government needs to get a grip.’
Mr Johnson also faced a backlash from Tory MPs who are using the blunder as firepower to force greater parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s coronavirus powers.
It could provide a fresh avenue for both Mr Johnson’s and his chief scientists’ critics amid anger over the direction of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the PM has defended their advice and expertise that has led to local lockdowns and early closures of pubs, Tory MPs have vented their ire on the pair in recent days, with calls for them to be sacked.
The mess came after skills minister Gillian Keegan suffered a series of car crash interviews Tuesday morning, admitting she was unable to answer key questions over new curbs that came into effect from midnight.