Media Release – 18 June 2020
MAJORITY OF BRITS NOW WANT INQUIRY INTO THE GOVERNMENT’S HANDLING OF CORONAVIRUS
- March for Change survey reveals 53% of the UK, up 4% in under two weeks, think there should be an independent public inquiry, including 54% across the Midlands, Wales and North of England
- Increase in support driven by Conservative and Leave supporters, with surge in support from women, over-65s and blue collar voters
- Most want inquiry ahead of winter, with almost two thirds now believing a second wave is inevitable
- March for Change campaign seeking urgent inquiry into UK’s coronavirus handling ahead of potential spike this winter is backed by leading medics and scientists
A majority of Brits now think there should be an independent public inquiry into how the Government has handled coronavirus, according to new research - with almost two thirds believing there will be a second wave later this year.
A nationwide survey conducted on Wednesday and Thursday last week (10-11 June), on behalf of campaign group March for Change, found that 53% of adults think there should be an inquiry - a 4% increase on the last March for Change poll conducted on 29 May. Only 33% said there shouldn’t be a public inquiry, down 2% compared to the equivalent poll on 29 May.
The surge in support for a public inquiry has come from:
- People aged over 65 (+11%)
- Blue collar workers (+10%)
- People in the Midlands (+9%)
Large increases in support have also come from Women (+8%), Conservative voters (+6%) and Leave voters (+5%).
The survey also found that nearly two thirds (63%) think there will be a second wave of coronavirus infections this year, compared to just 13% saying there will not.
Of those who want an inquiry, over two thirds (67%) believe it should happen before this winter, including 63% of Leave voters and 70% of respondents in the North of England.
Earlier this month, 27 leading medics and scientists signed a March for Change letter calling on Boris Johnson to order a public inquiry to prepare Britain for a second wave of the coronavirus this winter, warning that many more will die unless the country improves its response. The 27 experts, of which more than half are professors in virology, public health, epidemiology and other relevant fields, said there was an urgent need to fix shortcomings in Westminster’s coronavirus response, which have contributed to the UK suffering one of the highest death rates in the world.
Dr. Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of The British Medical Journal, said: "The UK faces substantial challenges in managing the next phase of the covid-19 pandemic. These will be different from the challenges faced over the past few months as they include the impact that the pandemic has already had on health, social care and the economy, alongside the need to prevent and prepare for flare ups or a second wave.
“There is a growing consensus that holding a public inquiry now would help us rise to these coming challenges. Ideally this inquiry would be open, transparent, and backed by all political parties, with an immediate component focussing on identifying what needs to be done before the winter. If done properly and in the right spirit, this could save lives, speed up economic recovery, and help to restore the public's confidence in our political, medical and scientific leaders."
Prof. Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University, and a supporter of the March for Change campaign for an urgent public inquiry, said: “We cannot simply accept that the UK response so far is the best we can do. The UK is a global leader in the fields of science and healthcare, so clearly there are urgent lessons to be learned to improve our response and save lives.
“We are one of the worst-hit countries in the world, and we need an urgent and independent public inquiry immediately, so we can learn lessons and avoid making the same mistakes twice in the future. If a second wave manifests itself, lives will depend on it."
The March for Change research, conducted by YouGov, also reveals:
- Adults in London (67%) and Scotland (63%) are the most likely to think there should be an independent public inquiry, followed by the North, the Midlands and Wales (all 54%) and the South outside London (45%)
- A third of Tory voters (33%) want a public inquiry, compared with 68% of Lib Dem voters and 81% of Labour voters
- Adults in Wales and the Midlands (both 66%) are the most likely to believe a second wave of coronavirus will happen this year, while a similar number believe a second wave is inevitable in age groups up to 65: 69% of 18-24 year olds, 66% of 25-49 year olds and 67% of 50-64 year olds
- It’s only in the 65+ age group that only around half (52%) believe a second wave will take place in 2020
Tom Brufatto, director, March for Change, added: "These figures should concern the Government deeply - we are not at the end of this pandemic, and with the highest death rates in Europe, we cannot afford to be complacent during the summer months.
"People are shocked that here in the UK, a country known for its world-leading science and envied healthcare system, we have suffered so much more compared to other countries across Europe and the world. The government approach has eroded public trust, and it must be a priority of any government to ensure it is restored.
“We do not know if coronavirus will rear its ugly head again later in the year, and we cannot afford to make the same mistakes twice. We need an urgent public inquiry now, while we still have time to learn lessons and save lives."
A petition on the March for Change site calling for a full public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Coronavirus crisis currently stands at over 100,000 signatures: https://www.marchforchange.uk/coronavirus_inquiry
Notes to editors:
March for Change is a grassroots campaign founded in 2019. Its petition is hosted on the March for Change website: https://www.marchforchange.uk/coronavirus_inquiry
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,646 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 10-11 June 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).