Why it could be politically challenging prioritising the economy over people’s health

Why it could be politically challenging prioritising the economy over people’s health

New Ipsos MORI poll finds little change during the lockdown

By far the biggest decision ministers will have to take over the coronavirus pandemic is when to ease the restrictions in order to to boost the economy once again. This is becoming increasingly urgent because of the sheer cost of so many being placed effectively on the government payroll

The message coming from government suggests that ministers are becoming more more eager to start to close down some of the controls in order to get things moving on the economy. The only problem is that this could be out of kilter with public opinion.

New polling from Ipsos MORI published overnight finds 53% saying the Government should prioritise peoples’ health, with more restrictions on public events, workplaces and travel. This compares to just 11% who think it should prioritise economic health by having less restrictions.  The rest say it should be both equally.

As can be seen from the chart these numbers are virtually identical to when the same question was asked in mid-March before the lockdown began.

The majority of those polled also think Briton’s economy will recover from the Coronavirus crisis at the same rate or more quickly than other countries.  However, 29%, say they think the British economy will recover more slowly, with 4% saying it will never recover. The detail shows that GE2019 CON voters are significantly more positive about the British economy’s ability to bounce back from this crisis, with 19% saying Britain will recover more quickly and 54% saying we will recover at the same rate as other countries.  This compares to 9% of 2019 LAB voters who think Britain’s economy will recover quicker and 34% who think we will recover at the same pace. 40% of Labour voters from 2019 think the economy will recover more slowly.

The former PBer, Keiran Pedley, who is now the Ipsos MORI research director said: These findings suggest it may be a challenge for the government to take public opinion with it as lockdown restrictions are eased. Despite several weeks of lockdown, a majority of the public still insist the public health should be prioritised over economic health, with more restrictions rather than less if necessary. It is striking that these numbers are virtually unchanged since mid-March. Views may now shift as new rules are better understood but these findings just go to show how cautious the British public is at this stage.”

Mike Smithson

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