Katy Balls

New polling: who’s to blame for the UK’s Covid mistakes?

New polling: who's to blame for the UK's Covid mistakes?
Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson and Deputy CMO Dr Jenny Harries (photo: Getty)
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This week Boris Johnson came under heavy criticism for suggesting 'too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have'. While the Prime Minister has since said he stands by the comments, the intervention appears to be part of an inevitable blame game over who is at fault for mistakes made in the coronavirus pandemic. A public inquiry is eventually expected to take place – but in the meantime there is no shortage of public figures keen to tell anyone who will listen what went wrong. While the Opposition have pointed to government mistakes, ministers have suggested civil service inadequacies played a role.

So, what do voters think? New polling for Coffee House, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies with a sample size of 1,500, looks at which factors are perceived to have been the most problematic in the UK response. Asked what were the most important factors leading to the high UK death toll, those surveyed were asked to pick two of the following options: lockdown was imposed too late, mistakes made by care homes, mistakes made by ministers, scientists providing bad advice, the poor health of the population (including obesity), people not complying fully with social distancing rules, civil service bureaucracy and the global connectedness of London.

59 per cent said the government imposing lockdown too late was one of the main reasons for the UK’s high coronavirus death toll. The second most popular reason was people not fully complying with social distancing rules – at 41 per cent. 33 per cent said mistakes made by government ministers were a key factor while just 17 per cent thought mistakes made by care homes were significant. 18 per cent pointed to poor health, 17 per cent London as an international hub while a mere 9 per cent though faulty advice from scientists played a key role.

Asked who they thought was primarily to blame for the mistakes made in the management of the coronavirus pandemic, 55 per cent said government ministers, 18 per cent government scientific advisers and 4 per cent said the civil service.

On the surface the findings make sobering reading for the government. However, given that some ministers believe the government will be vindicated on some counts when more information comes to light, it suggests that a public inquiry could be higher stakes for those currently thought to have made few missteps.

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor. She is also a columnist for the i paper.

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