The biggest divides over the Government’s approach to the Coronavirus have centred on the lockdown. Is it too late? Too early? Not necessary at all?
The latter view is based on believing that politicians are over-reacting to the virus; or that the social bargain whereby the young and healthy imperil their prospects to save the lives of the elderly and infirm isn’t worth it.
If our survey proves anything about to these differences, it is that much depends on the way in which a question about them is put.
When asked if Boris Johnson and the Government are handling the crisis well or badly, a stonking 92 per cent of the panel say well, in both cases, and only a paltry five per cent badly.
The Chancellor scores 91 per cent approval in a question of the same kind – in other words, he gets the same finding, in effect.
Asked about the lockdown, a miniscule one per cent back the view, made energetically in some right-wing quarters, that the lockdown is “an assault on personal freedom by a Government indifferent or hostile to our rights and liberties”.
Six per cent say that it doesn’t go far enough and 15 per cent, while eschewing anti-Government rhetoric, say it goes too far. That’s roughly one in six in the latter case, which is surely a minority worth noting. Seventy-seven per cent of those polled back it.
Quizzed about the social bargain, 13 per cent agree that “the sacrifices that younger and healthier people are being called to make on behalf of older and vulnerable ones are disproportionate”, while 81 per cent disagree.
On claims of over-reaction, 20 per cent believe that the Government has over-reacted to the Coronavirus, 63 per cent that it hasn’t, and 16 per cent hold their counsel.
Which can only mean that there is crossover between those who say that the Government is handling events well and that it has over-reacted to them.
At any rate, one in five is definitely a minority worth noting. All the same, these results are a resounding vote of confidence in Ministers in general and Boris Johnson in particular.