Has the UK’s coronavirus response become too politicised? – Conservative Article
Yes, the government’s handling of the crisis has become too politicised. How has the government’s response to a pandemic suddenly turned into a ‘two-horse’ battle over which party would have provided a better response? If the political party I loved had just lost a general election by quite a significant majority, I also wouldn’t be happy. But there is no excuse for this.
Firstly, politicising the government’s coronavirus response is ludicrous as it only attracts further issues and unnecessary focus. It is an argument mainly provoked by Labour grassroots supporters. Their argument could have been centred and focalised around the response to Covid-19.
Of course, there are definitely certain things that should have been implemented earlier. Examples include an earlier lockdown date, a travel ban, airport checks and a wider plan for the NHS and care homes. All we can do is learn from the mistakes made and be prepared for a ‘second wave’.
According to a study run by Dr Richard Fletcher, Dr Antonis Kalogeropolous and Professor Rasmus Kleis of the Reuters Institute, 42% of the respondents think that the coronavirus situation is mixed. 27% think that the UK is ‘heading in the right direction’ and 25% think that the UK is on the ‘wrong track’.
These results are not a surprise considering the role the media has had in influencing people’s opinions and portraying the government’s response. It also found public trust in the government is down by 21% since April. The drop in percentage points is not a shock. This has been since the government was responding to the pandemic by assessing the situation in other countries such as Italy and China.
It is incredible that Labour supporters believe that their party would have done a better job in this situation. This has not happened in the UK since the outbreak of the Spanish Flu. One thing should be considered though; would the Labour party even have any money in the Treasury to even be able to maintain control and provide sufficient funds for the NHS, care homes, local councils and Universal Credit?
I ran a quick straw poll on the University of Exeter’s Overheard group on Facebook just to gather some opinions. 155 people answered which is not many, but a start. The results were as followed: 93 people thought that the UK government’s response had become “too politicised” and 62 people thought that the UK government’s response had not become “too politicised”.
I know the number of people who responded to this is low. However, I believe this reflects the national sentiment in some ways. Again, the government has made mistakes. But in no way, shape or form can Labour sympathisers and MPs state that a Labour government would be able to do a better job of fighting coronavirus.
The people should be supporting the government for the effort that they have put in with their response. I am surprised that many of the public are still not adhering to social distancing rules. Mass gatherings are still organised despite warnings from government experts and the local lockdown of Leicester. No other party could have performed a better job. Moreover, I am surprised that there has not been greater unity between the political parties in a time of such uncertainty.
On a final note, I much prefer Boris Johnson’s five-step plan for local lockdowns in cases of a second spike. It makes sense to devolve power to local regions to focus on containing the virus independently with an executive overreach.
One of the mistakes made by the government when the lockdown was imposed was that the devolved countries proceeded with the change but they put in place differing requirements to uplift restrictions. Some might say devolution will cause more chaos. I believe with the right guidance from the executive and overreach, it will be crucial in containing the virus.
In my next article, I would like to focus specifically on media coverage to the UK government’s response to Covid-19. I believe that the media misinterpret the government and blow government statements and reports out of proportion.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski
Point of Information
Too politicised yes, but what would it have been like if another party was in power? – a Liberal Response
Overall, I agree with Max. This is a virus that has taken lives not only in the UK but across the world. We cannot underestimate how devastating this pandemic has been on society and the economy. Parties should have united from the beginning to prevent a serious spread of the virus, which we have seen.
The government has made a lot of mistakes, a lot. Max is simply trying to shift the blame by saying “the UK has never seen anything like this”. It is the government’s job to respond to a crisis. That is why the public voted to put them in charge. The government needed to take matters into their own hands before all hell broke loose. Instead, they were looking over the shoulders of neighbours to try and copy their answer.
However, we are past that stage. As much as I enjoy blaming the Conservative government for their mistakes, we are at a stage beyond pointing fingers. By saying that one party or another could have handled it better is impossible to know. Parties need to work alongside each other, as hard as that is, to bring multiple ideas to the table on how the United Kingdom moves on.
However, it is nice to wonder. I often think about how other parties would have handled it from the beginning. I believe we would’ve seen mistakes. Whether it be Labour or the Liberal Democrats, all parties would have made mistakes somewhere along the line. The problem is we will never know.
The government and opposing parties need to put their differences aside and think about a recovery plan. The long-term effects will be detrimental in all areas; tourism, economy, hospitality, healthcare, etc. We cannot sit back and twiddle our thumbs discussing whether Keir Starmer would’ve known exactly what day we should’ve started lockdown. That day was months ago, long before it was imposed. Now is time to think about recovery.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Charlie Papamichael
Scrutiny cannot be avoided – a Labour Response
To an extent, I agree with Max; the response to this pandemic has become overly politicised.
In unprecedented situations, criticism alone is not helpful. To merely critique the government and not offer any form of solution or explanation would be absurd. Now, it is arguably more important to focus on moving forward and prepare for a second wave.
However, some form of scrutiny is necessary. We can all agree that there is overwhelming pressure on the Conservative government, but they cannot ignore all accountability. This is a necessary function of democracy. Such scrutiny may even prove helpful in preparation for a likely second wave.
I also feel that this article fails to meet the mark statistically. While the straw poll is a good idea in theory, given the lack of statistics on this issue, the 155 respondents account for 0% of the UK population. Combined with the lack of diversity at the University of Exeter, this can by no means be said to reflect the national sentiment. It is interesting that Max has only used such evidence to support his view. His article, therefore, is largely politically motivated. The irony.
So, while the response to the pandemic has become overly politicised, the government cannot avoid all scrutiny. Nor can they expect to. They must be kept in check.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
I am Max Jablonowski, a second year student studying French and Politics at the University of Exeter, and I am about to go on my year abroad to Paris to complete two internships. I was Academic Events Manager of the Politics Society in Exeter and I was privileged enough to organize events such as Question Time, co-host the 2019 General Election Hustings with MWEXE and host the Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the current Minister of State for Security.
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.
I’m Abi! I am a liberal, political enthusiast from the Welsh valleys. Since I was young, I have been captivated by politics. I used to spend so much time watching the morning news before school, and have paid close attention to political campaigns for as long as I can remember. It was a lot later that I decided I wanted to pursue politics academically. Now, I have just finished my second year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter.