I’ve written over the YouGov website about the latest YouGov polling on how the government are handling the corona outbreak here.

Polls across the board show that the public have a generally negative attitude towards how the government are handling the outbreak. The attempt here is to look under the bonnet a bit about why, and which parts. In that sense people seem to rate the government’s handling of the coronavirus in economic terms seems to be a little better than perceptions of how they are combating the virus itself. However, the very lowest results are on perceptions of the level of organisation – just 20% think they appear to be in charge of the situation, only 17% think they have a clear plan.

Full article is here.

1,991 Responses to “What people think the government are getting wrong about the Coronavirus”

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  1. How many U-turns are we fitting in this weekend, buried under the noise of the Biden win?
    – free school meals (‘will never happen’ – B. Johnson Esq.) being rolled out for Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays
    – Internal Markets Bill contentious clauses being quietly allowed to be stripped out in HoL

    Expect a fairly rapid cave-in on the substance of level playing field, and some form of ‘kick-the-can-down-the-road’ compromise wording on fisheries that allows Johnson to claim a meaningless victory, and I bet we will have a trade agreement next week.

    And now Johnson has to go and eat crow to try to rebuild a relationship with someone whose close friend he gratuitously insulted… not a good day for the UK government, but I suspect on balance a good day for the UK people…especially any hungry children out there.

    Well played Marcus!

  2. The Ayrshire Daily News is enjoying this!


    South Ayrshire Golf club owner loses 2020 presidential election

  3. With rare exceptions of whom I am not one, we are not really qualified to discuss the ins and outs of Covid-19 on UKPR. We do, however, seem to get somewhat earlier than ministers as witness the following article on hospital acquired infections and the potential value of vitamin D.


    “Ministers plan to supply Vitamin D tablets to more than two million vulnerable people – including care home residents and those whose medical conditions mean they have to shield – over the winter amid growing evidence that it can make Covid symptoms less severe”;

  4. @colin

    The transition period used to be even longer. For example, Lincoln wasn’t inaugurated until March 1861 having won in November 1860 and quite a lot happened in the intervening period.

  5. The USA is a very large country, and when their constitution was written, there weren’t trains or cars, let alone planes. It takes time to get to Washington by horse, and there has to be a government in the meantime.

    Of course in any other country the constitution would have been changed long ago to provide for a speedy transition. The US constitution is antiquated and unsuitable for the 20th century, let alone the 21st, but there seems no chance of writing a new one which would be more appropriate for the present age.

    Not sure how Jefferson would feel seeing his constitution virtually unaltered 250 years later……

  6. @Hulagu

    Not sure if he would have agreed with the 13th amendment.

  7. @Nickp – “A few commentators joining in with Alec’s gaslighting – blaming Trumpism on the “liberal left”.”


    If you really think discussing whether the vacating of the economic debate by the left from the 1980s – 2010s and consequent acceptance of the Thatcherite economic orthodoxy, in favour of pursuing a more identity based political agenda, counts as ‘gaslighting’, then I think you are in quite a bad place.

    Indeed, I think it rather makes the case for the point I was making.

  8. @Nickp – “Not the failure of the Centre who have actually governed for 30 years or more?”

    Ahh – now – I may have been a bit too hasty – and so, possibly, have you been.

    Frankly, I get lost with all the political labels beloved of politics students. I haven’t the foggiest how you define ‘liberal’, ‘social democrat’, ‘left’ etc etc.

    In my original post, I used the terms ‘Labour/left’ and Democrta/left’, with the intention of denoting the centre left parties in the UK and US. I don’t know how you want to classify these, but it may be the case that we actually agree on this?

    It was the weak, centrist view taken by these parties on the economic agenda, falling into line with the Thatcher/Regan agenda in large part, and instead rely!ng of the identity based political issues to distinguish themselves from the parties of the centre right was what I was trying to get at.

    Essentially, when the economy fell apart in 2008, the left had no intellectual offer to make except gender neutral toilets (I simplify).

    Does that move us forward?

  9. Alec
    I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that.
    The post war consensus saw parties from the right and the left agreeing on a lot.
    For example under Gerald Ford and Nixon the top federal rate of income tax was 85% .
    Harold Macmillan saw 350000 council homes built a year.

    The first seven years of Thatcher saw top rates of tax of 60%.

    It’s the period since the mid 80’s which has seen the greatest redistribution of wealth back to those least in need of it.

    Personally I think that this has been the greatest failures of successive governments.
    While the Blair government was at least socially liberal it was fiscally conservative.
    Once you have the malign combination of fiscally conservative and callous disregard for those in need it all goes to pot.

    Populist nationalist politicians look to the principles of othering to conceal their own polices of redistribution from the poor to the rich and the diminishing of social support.

  10. @ COLIN – I’m pretty sure we 99% agree on past/present but have some quibbles on the details.

    Long end gilt yields have dropped during the C19 crisis so clearly “demand” outstripped “supply” and we made the “paradox of thrift” (Japanification) issue worse.

    I fully agree the type of bailout and mechanism is different to post 2008 but we’ve ended up with the same/worse outcome (see Einstein’s quote about doing the same thing over and over)

    1/ Base rate: 0.1% (0.25% low after 2008 and barely rose above)
    2/ 30yr gilt yield: sub 1% (from 5%ish pre-2008 then steady drop ever since)
    3/ Massive, semi-permanent increase in UK debt (+30% post each “crisis”)

    Whilst I respect TINA for #1 and #3 (although both now and post 2008 we’ve overdone #3 IMO) then we didn’t have to “encourage” #2. Yield curves are somewhat global and lower long term yields “help” some countries (eg US where mortgage rates are set off the long-end) but they are very damaging to UK (Paradox of thrift via pensions and minimal uptake of cheaper financing from corporates)

    Now, from IMF to all the major central banks to most? G7/20 finance ministers there is broad consensus on the TINA of bailing out individual and global economy during the C19 crisis (and aside from Japan, UK is spending near the top of the pack on that) but, yes, it is TBC about the “post Pandemic Stimulus Debt”

    I hope the World agrees on the need for global reflation, a (Green) New Deal ala Roosevelt’s 1930s (and not Europe’s 1930s). Each country will have a different approach but for UK then my hope is:

    1/ “Middle way” between avoiding a massive increase in current spending but avoiding austerity
    2/ Domestic focus (eg keep the VAT cut on domestic services (hospitality sector), avoid a bonkers cut of VAT on goods, etc)
    3/ “Investor of last resort” (aka “bungs” for Build in Britain and UKIB for “green” tech, etc)
    4/ Enabling Environment (not the daft “bonfire of regulations” or Boris tax cuts for the rich but ensure UK is an attractive place to invest)

    In time #4 can fully replace #3, some of #3 might even make a profit!

    NB Obviously I hope other countries will “help”. Specifically those that tend towards “export-led and austerity” or “tax/pollution haven” status need to be “encouraged” that they can no longer rely on the kindness of strangers ;)

    I’m not too concerned with inflation, if/when that is a problem then we can fix it. I’d also quite happy with a further “competitive deval” but unless/until we fix the trade balance then a currency collapse is our major risk (IMO)

    @ JJ – Obama (Biden) also keen on TPP (CPTPP) and some ENATs will be quite keen on Biden ensuring the GFA is upheld ;)

    Looking forward to Biden pushing through some other parts of his agenda as well

  11. It’s conceivable that in the Spaffer Cummings regime bunker someone might have realised that past casual rac!sm by Spaffer might have consequences.
    Who would have thought that “part-Kenyan’ Obama may have ‘ancestral dislike’ of UK” Spaffer 2016 might not endear the prime minister to the Biden administration.
    Or undermining the GFI agreement with an incoming president of Irish ancestry might not be considered positive.

    Mealy mouthed congratulations now won’t erase history.

    As one senior official in the Biden team said today their entirely justified view of our prime minister is that “he’s a shape shifting creep”

  12. Charles

    Many thanks for your 7.27pm and 9.04pm comments last night. I thought your 7.27 reply perfectly fair and have always appreciated that my economic view of Brexit is very much a minority view. One of the problems with that of course it is almost impossible to accurately measure the damage that I think has been done to our economy from our membership and the over regulation of the EU.

    Anyway thank you for respecting my views as I do yours.


    Total U-turns this parliament 568 and counting.

    Very welcome and utterly baffling. Who would have guessed this government would be so inept in so many different fields?

  14. On the latest polls.

    I am too busy to make my usual detailed comments. However it is does seem clear that Labour is in the lead and that the Tories are now averaging below 40% support. No great surprise but disappointing for RoC supporters.

    I was pleased to see Biden beat Trump and the latter has done himself no favours with the way he has handled his defeat. Hopefully the Republicans will still retain the Senate, even after the January runoff’s.

  15. @Steve – “It’s the period since the mid 80’s which has seen the greatest redistribution of wealth back to those least in need of it.”

    That’s precisely the period I was thinking of.

    Essentially the post war economic consensus died in 1979/80 with the take over of the free marketeers in the UK and US. This was a response to the events of the 1970s, when it became clear that changes were needed.

    Monetarism, reduction of government intervention, free trade, attacks on unions etc – all these became established orthodoxies, along with the overarching notion that ‘the economy’ just happens and government’s job is to keep out of the way.

    While there were gains, the redistributive ideal was reduced or lost, and the weakening of the rights of labour led ultimately to a long period of stagnant real terms growth in living standards for many people, even as GDP increased.

    During this time, the left of centre parties acquiesced in this orthodoxy, even as their erstwhile supporters were becoming ever more economically insecure. Huge gaps in wealth and earnings were not seen as a problem, and the 1940s idea, that it was miners, farmers and dockers that built the economy gave way to the notion that it was the tax avoiding billionaires who were the wealth creators.

    When the system was found to be based on sand, the left had nothing to say, except tacit approval for the orthodoxy of austerity, because some Harvard theorist said some utter rubbish that an economy with more than an 80% debt to GDP ration would blow up.

    Now, with the US debt ration at 136%, everyone thinks we can spend money like water and it doesn’t matter. So much for the economic orthodoxy.

    The mainstream LoC parties left their voters behind during this period, in many ways, and focused on other policy areas for their political definition.

  16. TOH: it is almost impossible to accurately measure the damage that I think has been done to our economy from our membership and the over regulation of the EU.

    It would be interesting to see your list of those EU regulations you consider to have damaged the UK economy, and which you would like to see dropped or watered down now that we have left.

    And for bonus points, you could list which of those regulations were adopted against the opposition of the UK.

  17. TOH: it is almost impossible to accurately measure the damage that I think has been done to our economy from our membership and the over regulation of the EU.

    It would be interesting to see your list of those EU regulations you consider to have damaged the UK economy, and which you would like to see dropped or watered down now that we have left.

    And for bonus points, you could list which of those regulations were adopted against the opposition of the UK.

  18. Somerjohn.
    It’s very difficult to measure what someone thinks particularly when what they think doesn’t appear to have any particular connection with reality.


    The Equality Trust has stats on this but basically inequality reduced a lot post-war but then ‘since 1979 this process of narrowing inequality has reversed sharply. As shown in the graph below, inequality rose considerably over the 1980s, reaching a peak in 1990. Since 2010, income shares have been relatively unchanged.’

    Actually, although the Blair/Brown govts didn’t do as much as they should have done (IMO) they did not continue the trend towards greater inequality. These are the facts. the perception of course may be different.

  20. Alec,
    “Now, with the US debt ration at 136%, everyone thinks we can spend money like water and it doesn’t matter. So much for the economic orthodoxy. ”

    My take would be that money is a good things. The issuing of money enables trade. Money is essentially free wealth to the issuer who prnts it and hands it out in exchange for goods or labour, but so long as there isnt so much as to devalue it, it acts to allow trade and create wealth.

    So..if you do print too much it fevalurs it all. Print too little and what you do is avoid taking for the state free wealth which you could have taken. In the meanwhile banks have created ingenious ways to increase the money supply themselves and have taken for themselves the cut from doing so.

    So…if done judiciously printing money is another form of taxation which is hardly noticed. The world moved from a situation in the first half of the 20th century where perhaps there was rather too much printing, to one at the end where there was not enough. Much as it did with other forms of taxatation.

  21. It would appear that Spaffer will not be replacing his special relationship with the Wotsit-Faced Gammon. In the near future.

    They do not think Boris Johnson is an ally,” a Democratic source told the Sunday Times. “They think Britain is an ally. But there will be no special relationship with Boris Johnson.”

    The paper also quotes a senior US politician who is expected to take a job in Biden’s administration as saying: “If you think Joe hates him, you should hear Kamala.”

    Biden’s enmity towards Johnson dates from comments made by the then-London mayor during the Brexit referendum, when he wrote that Obama’s decision to remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office was a “symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire”.

    Former Obama press aide Tommy Vietor responded to Johnson’s congratulatory message last night by calling him a “shapeshifting creep”, adding: “We will never forget your racist comments about Obama and slavish devotion to Trump.”

  22. Alec

    You seem to have forgotten how socialism has been demonised, its supporters called unpatriotic.

    Yes globalist ne0liberalism became the new orthodoxy – with not much to choose between Blair & Cameron – but to try to argue that it is the fault of the left that the right took over their parties is laughable.

    As soon as the members could choose it leaser, we got socialism – hopefully Starmer will stick with that movement. if not, he will either lose the leadership or the party will lose the members.

    Now personally if voters reject socialism in favour of whatever the Tories currently represent, so be it. But I’d like it to be “on the ticket”, instead of a straight choice between “more of the same” and “more of the same waving flags”.

  23. Today’s Kings phone app findings.

    R 1.0 or less in all regions of the UK.

    Estimated daily cases down another 1400 from yesterday’s report.

    There isnt any need for lockdown to suppress the epidemic, which has already been falling for some while.

    Chances are, Its essentially over because everyones been exposed and either had it or it didnt take because of immunity. What we just saw was the block of people isolated by closing schools returned to the community and cases amongst them working through the system. The background R was less than 1 before they were released and is still less than 1 afterwards.

    So…what will be the polling implications of this when the UK population comes round to undersand there was never a need for this second lockdown?

    I would judge this effect is already in evidence in support for the conservatives falling , but since labour is also supporting lockdown now, presumably it is going to eat some of their putative lead too. My local con MP just got a significant step closer to my support (long time to go yet..) for opposing lockdown.

    All lockdowns have done is delay recovery from covid.

  24. @NICKP

    Blair/Brown were not the same as Cameron.

    Blair/Brown: House of Lords reform, Supreme Court, Scots and Welsh devolution, peace in Northern Ireland, Bank of England independence, increased funding for NHS and education, minimum wage, Human Rights Act, Freedom of Information Act, civil partnerships, child poverty reduced, Sure Start, Tax credits

    Cameron: gay marriage

  25. Okay here’s my model…

    4 box grid; 2 Rows, 2 Columns.
    Rows; Popular/Unpopular.
    Columns; Local/Central.

    At all levels Politicians aim to do the Popular Locally and take the credit and push the Unpopular to the Centre and avoid the blame.

    So we get Populists locally who get credit for the easy stuff while adding to their popularity by attacking the Political Elite, who fail to deal with the difficult intractable problems that they have passed the buck on.

    Easy to blame others for problems you’ve avoided and can’t solve yourself.

    Ah but after a while they reap the reward of their popularity and find themselves at the centre and on their desk, are all the intractable problems they’ve shoved their for years.

    And so they fail, once the maverick outside who’s going to “Drain the Swamp!” In Washington gets their, they find out that they to will soon be lost and sinking in the swamp, a swamp of their own making.

    Not the Liberal Left, not Centerists or Free Marketters, our problem is not ideological, it is human weakness.

    Politicians of all stripes doing what’s popular and avoiding what’s not.

    We can catch more fish than there are fish!

    No Politician from a fishing area will say catch less, push it to the assembly, The assembly rulers will fall if they say less, push it to Parliament, The Government will lose the Marginals, push it to Brussels, there are too many fishing communities in too many countries, push it to bureaucrats and scientists…

    Oh says the Politician from the fishing area… “It’s all the Euro Elites fault, unelected Brussels Bureaucrats telling us what to do…if it was down to me you could catch all the fish you wanted…and he gets elected with a huge majority.


  26. @Steve

    I think Brits overestimate the regard in which the country is held by many Americans.

    I think I’ve told this story here before, but if so I hope it’s worth repeating.

    A few years ago my wife and I were studying the menu outside an Italian restaurant in Boston. A couple emerged and the man said, “it’s really good, you’ll like it.”

    I mumbled a few words of thanks and, detecting an alien accent, asked “you guys from Canada?” (a surprisingly common misapprehension, I find, in that part of the world).

    “No, England” I replied.

    His face darkening, he said: “Never forget we won the war.”

    Ever the smart Alec, I answered, “Yup. And don’t forget it took you over two years and an attack by Japan before you joined in.”

    “No, not that war. 1776 when we whupped your asses right here.”

    There are a lot of Irish (and other) Americans who still think of Britain as a deservedly humbled colonial overlord with inexplicably enduring delusions of grandeur.

  27. Tobyebert.
    You will never convince the true believers.
    Evidence doesn’t matter.
    Blair made no pretence of being far left , he wasn’t elected on that basis and didn’t govern on that basis. Any attempts by Labour to gain control in the last forty years based on an overtly left wing agenda have failed.

    Personally I would prefer a more fiscally radical agenda but my preference for that is outweighed by my wish to see a more inclusive socially responsible and objectively fairer administration than we have under the current clown show.

    The way this is achieved and sustained is by appealing to some of the more reasonable among those who currently vote Tory , it’s how Biden has just won but it seems anathema to those who think polishing up their socialist credentials comes first.

  28. tonyebert

    I voted for Blair & Brown. They pumped desperately needed money into impoverished schools and signed us up to the social chapter – but an independent Bank of England was hardly a socialist policy.

    During their time we got a massive expansion of outsourcing, privatisation (including in the NHS) and, of course, tuition fees.

    Theirs was basically more of the same, but with tax credits.

  29. @STEVE

    Yes, I agree. We LoCs are always disappointed that our LAB govts aren’t more radical, but that’s just in the nature of being a left-wing progressive.

    IMO any LAB govt is far preferable to any CON govt for the reasons you mention.

  30. @NICKP

    Yes, they could have done much better, especially in tackling inequality, but they have achievements to their name which CON would never have even thought of.

  31. tonyebert

    But they lost Scotland probably forever and now have lost their northern heartlands to Brexit.

    So the “win and retain power first” philosophy fails when our base then either stops voting or goes far right in Brexitland.

  32. Losing Scotland was the price of winning Westminster.

  33. Just as losing Scotland is the Tories’ price for winning Brexit.

  34. Statgeek.
    Currently the SNP are in the unique of both being the government but also be opposition.
    If secession is achieved the advantages this instil go.

    In those circumstances it’s not remotely inconceivable that a Scottish Labour party could defeat the incumbents.

  35. New thread on the rise and rise of Kier Starmer

  36. TW


    I’m not an expert on UK Gilt yields but hasnt the 2020 fall been from a flight to safety? What happened to equity prices last spring?

    And demand can’t be infinitely flexible if , as Bailey said, BoE had to save Sunak’s Pandemic response emergency funding from a market freeze up. last April..

    There is a lot of interesting stuff on the prospects for Public Finances ST Times today.

    The self imposed BoE limit on QE is again quoted as leaving maybe £100 headroom. So essentially BoE can soak up the deficit funding this year , which will be mostly pandemic response, and then either they have to increase their limit of proportion held-or Sunak is again exposed to real market sentiment for the Levelling Up funding. ( not to mention the health care & social care spending emerging from pandemic lessons).

    So I return to a scenario in which just as BJ gets started on spending money for his social & economic plans , he loses the zero borrowing cost & buyer of last resort ( only resort last April !!) provided by QE .

    And this against a background of 100% X GDP Debt levels. IFS said it will need £43bn pa in tax rises to stabilise at even those altitudes. You dont get that sort of loot unless you tax a lot of people.( and thats before the prospect of real world interest rates appears over the horizon)

    So I can only repeat my previous sentiment that we are moving to an era of tax rises to fund the restructuring of shattered economie & shore up health & social care.

    As I said , this presents the Conservative Party with big problems-both internally & in a bidding war for votes with the Labour Party. How do the Tories cope with being just another tax & spend option for voters?. What distinguishes them from the people who usually offer that stuff , the Labour Party ?

    As an aside I am shocked at the vitriol on almost every page of ST Business Section addressed to this Government. And this doesn’t just emanate from critics of Lockdown 2 . There is a 2 page piece on the relationship between “wealth creators” and BJ & co. Its not a comfortable read.

    And there is B Day to come And then Jo Biden.


  37. TobyEbert

    “Yes, they could have done much better, especially in tackling inequality, but they have achievements to their name which CON would never have even thought of.”


    You are telling yourself they didn’t make things worse, you just think they could have done more economically. You said before that the poverty indicators mean it wasn’t too bad.

    But the poverty indicators don’t capture what really happened. Under New Labour worsened dramatically, notably with utilities and house prices and competition for low-waged jobs from immigration.

    Benefits were used to compensate somewhat, taking the edge off the poverty indicators, but overall, the situation had dramatically worsened.

    Where before you might have been able to survive on a low wage, now you’re dependent on benefits to pay your housing costs. Your low wage lowered further by immigration, you need more benefits.

    Aspiration to own your own home and escape, gone, good pensions, gone, chance of getting to a good school catchment diminished because can’t afford the property, chsnce of a good career, gone, and yiu cant afford to heat your home…

    But little of this is captured in poverty indicators. And this is without considering ATOS, tuition fees etc.

  38. I don’t think it was immigration that lowered wages, it was privatisation and keeping public service wages down.

    When public service pay is depressed, so is private sector pay.

  39. @NickP

    Yes, though I was talking about what New Labour added to the party. The weakening of the unions also played a part, but much of that happened before New Labour (although they arguably weakened union links within their own party).

  40. IMHO people want more spending on social care
    including mental health .Less spending on ‘infrastructure’ and definitely less spending on government bureaucracy.This is why Rashford has had such traction.


    I remember having a conversation with PETE B about this. It seems that we take a lot of things for granted and soon forget who did what.
    For example the NMW is so fixed in our psyche that no one would ever remember some of the smae MPs that now laud it being religiously against it. The same with tax credits

    What also worries me is that the apparent success you name for Cameron Gay marriage was pssed even though more than half of all Tory MP voted against it

    What is maddening is that even amongst clearly well versed political follower it seems that we just don’t get it. If that is the case then how about the non political electorate

    I have always said the electorate is around 18 months to 2years behind the curve indeed I argued that Brexit was a call against austerity and even Corbyns success in GE17 was change in that people were pitting the removal of austerity with brexit.


    You have written one of the best pots on this site since I have been on here. Indeed you have captures much of the issues I have said written about in terms f what the problems are in the Uk and the problems of those that are successful and those that are not the left behinds towns versus the successful cities, metro versus rural and in deed the changing landscape of what success looks like

    Your point about the catch as much fish as we like is essentially the problem of having the lot locally versus the needs beyond locality.

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