Fri, 21 June 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
The next UK government must ensure health, safety and wellbeing standards are upheld Partner content
Press releases

Confidence in Government’s handling of coronavirus crisis drops amid confusion over ‘stay alert’ slogan

Approval in Boris Johnson's response to the pandemic has fallen (PA)

3 min read

Public confidence in the Government’s handling of coronavirus crisis has fallen in the past week amid confusion over the new “stay alert” message, according to a new poll.

The survey for Opinium also reported a drop in approval of the response to the pandemic, with 39% approving of the Government's moves versus 42% now disapproving. 

Disapproval has climbed six points from 36% in the past seven days, the study finds - with more people now disapproving of the Governemnt's response than approving of it for the first time since the pollster began tracking the metric.

Meanwhile more than half (53%) of those asked do not feel the slogan of “Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives” is very clear.

And less than a third correctly identified where the UK is on the Government “Covid Alert System” scale.

The majority of respondents could, however, correctly identify the updated advice given by Boris Johnson last Sunday.

But while 76% got it right on the guidance for exercising, only 51% understood the changes about who should be going into work.

The polling report added: “More positively, two thirds of those asked to return to work (68%) feel assured their workplace is Covid-secure this week, and 65% think their journey to work would also be Covid-secure.”

Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium, added: “Approval of the Government’s handling of the pandemic soared when the lockdown measures were brought in but now for the first time disapproval is higher than approval while Keir Starmer’s net approval rating has overtaken Boris Johnson’s. 

“In part this was likely inevitable as the relatively simple and almost unanimous decision to lockdown has given way to much more contestable decisions about how and when to open up."

He added: "We have gone from a very simple and clearly understood message to a more nuanced situation with more confused messaging and a sense that the government don’t have as firm a grip on the situation as voters would like.”


The findings come as Mr Johnson was hit by a growing revolt over his lockdown easing strategy as council leaders across the north of England joined unions in vowing to resist plans to reopen schools from 1 June.

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “On the eve of a new working week, the PM was on TV ‘actively encouraging’ a return to work. 

“Even though that would clearly put more cars on roads and people on trams, no one in government thought it important to tell the cities who’d have to cope with that.”

Writing in The Observer, he accused a Government which was “elected on votes in the north” of having reverted to “the default, London-centric mode in this crisis”.

Mr Burnham added: “Last Sunday’s package certainly felt more suited to the south than to the north.

"And the same pattern continued into the week. On Thursday, a £1.6billion funding package was agreed for Transport for London. 

“I don’t have a problem with that. But where was the deal for Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham?”

Last week Liverpool council wrote to parents saying it was unlikely to reopen schools at the start of next month, and has now been followed by local authorities in Hartlepool, Newcastle and Gateshead.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Alain Tolhurst - Tory Focus On Immigration Has Little Appeal For Voters Moving To Labour

Partner content
Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

Find out more