More than ten weeks into the nation’s coronavirus lockdown and the British public is dividing into three distinct tribes as restrictions are relaxed, a study has found.

According to King’s College London experts, feelings towards COVID-19 and the government’s response is leaving people either trusting, dissenting or frustrated.

Unlike the the largely united stance seen at the beginning of the lockdown, these groups are more aligned with traditional partisan lines and leave/remain identities.

More than ten weeks into the nation's coronavirus lockdown and the British public is dividing into three distinct tribes as restrictions are relaxed, a study has found

More than ten weeks into the nation’s coronavirus lockdown and the British public is dividing into three distinct tribes as restrictions are relaxed, a study has found

According to King's College London experts, feelings towards COVID-19 and the government's response is leaving people either trusting, dissenting or frustrated

According to King’s College London experts, feelings towards COVID-19 and the government’s response is leaving people either trusting, dissenting or frustrated

In their study, public policy researcher Bobby Duffy of King’s College London and colleagues analysed data from an Ipsos MORI survey of 2,254 UK residents aged from 18–75 that was undertaken between 20–22 May.

Respondents were asked about their experiences of life under lockdown, assessment of problems and risks, expectations for the future and views of the government’s handling of the health crisis.

‘We went into the lockdown incredibly unified, with nine in 10 of the public supporting the measures – but we’re becoming much more divided on the way out,’ said Professor Duffy.

‘In particular, our views are now aligning much more clearly with our underlying political identities.’

The team found that 38 per cent of the public — the so-called ‘Trusting’ are worried about the virus, but are overwhelmingly trusting of the UK Government’s response.

Meanwhile, the same number — in the group the experts have dubbed ‘The Dissenting’ — are concerned by both the virus and the government’s response.

The remaining 24 per cent of people — ‘The Frustrated’ — are the least worried about the health risks of the global pandemic, the most likely to be finding the experience of lockdown hard and most inclined to think restrictions should be lifted faster.

According to the researchers, both the Trusting and the Frustrated ‘see the risk of being hospitalised from COVID-19 as very high, at just under 50 per cent.’ 

‘But the Frustrated put this risk at 24 per cent — while the actual risk is likely to be much lower, based on early estimates.’

Respondents were asked about their experiences of life under lockdown, assessment of problems and risks, expectations for the future and the government’s handling of the crisi

Respondents were asked about their experiences of life under lockdown, assessment of problems and risks, expectations for the future and the government’s handling of the crisis

'We went into the lockdown incredibly unified, with nine in 10 of the public supporting the measures – but we’re becoming much more divided on the way out,' said Professor Duffy

‘We went into the lockdown incredibly unified, with nine in 10 of the public supporting the measures – but we’re becoming much more divided on the way out,’ said Professor Duffy

‘The Trusting group, for example, have just as high fears about the direct health risks as the Dissenting group, but they have utterly different views of the government’s response,’ Professor Duffy explained.

‘[While] the Trusting are putting their faith in the government, the Dissenting very clearly are not, with only 4 per cent thinking the government has done a good job.’

‘But these two groups are not entirely aligned to party support – nearly one in five of the Dissenting group are Conservative voters, showing how important perceptions of the virus response are likely to be in ongoing political support.’

‘The Frustrated are quite different, with a much clearer view that we’re relaxing the restrictions too slowly.’

This group, Professor Duffy added, ‘seems to be driven by a much greater focus on the economic impacts and, in turn, a high number of this group are already suffering from financial and other impacts from the lockdown.’ 

'The Trusting group, for example, have just as high fears about the direct health risks as the Dissenting group, but they have utterly different views of the government’s response,' Professor Duffy explained

‘The Trusting group, for example, have just as high fears about the direct health risks as the Dissenting group, but they have utterly different views of the government’s response,’ Professor Duffy explained

'[While] the Trusting are putting their faith in the government, the Dissenting very clearly are not, with only 4 per cent thinking the government has done a good job,' said Professor Duffy 'But these two groups are not entirely aligned to party support – nearly one in five of the Dissenting group are Conservative voters, showing how important perceptions of the virus response are likely to be in ongoing political support'

‘[While] the Trusting are putting their faith in the government, the Dissenting very clearly are not, with only 4 per cent thinking the government has done a good job,’ said Professor Duffy ‘But these two groups are not entirely aligned to party support – nearly one in five of the Dissenting group are Conservative voters, showing how important perceptions of the virus response are likely to be in ongoing political support’

‘The costs and benefits of the lockdown are not shared out equally,’ said King’s College London researcher Daniel Allington.

‘It is the elderly who are most at risk from COVID-19, but the biggest sacrifices have been demanded of young working people — especially parents — and of children, who have lost precious months of their education.’ 

‘The size of the Trusting group shows that many people will follow the government’s lead even if they are personally afraid.’

‘But as the social costs of lockdown continue to grow and a vaccine remains a distant hope, it will become more and more difficult to choose between the contradictory demands of the Dissenting and the Frustrated.’

The full findings of the study were published on the King’s College London website

THE UK’S THREE NEW TRIBES: THE TRUSTING, THE DISSENTING AND THE FRUSTRATED

THE TRUSTING

38 per cent of the UK. Very worried about the health impacts of the virus, but still by far the most likely to be putting their trust in government:

The team found that 38 per cent of the public — the so-called 'Trusting' are worried about the virus, but are trusting the UK Government's response. Pictured, Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The team found that 38 per cent of the public — the so-called ‘Trusting’ are worried about the virus, but are trusting the UK Government’s response. Pictured, Prime Minister Boris Johnson

  • Nine in 10 trust the government to handle the crisis and the information it provides on the virus.
  • Six in 10 support the relaxation measures announced on 10 May — the highest of any group and the only with majority approval.
  • Seven in 10 think the government has done a good job of protecting UK residents from the virus.
  • But the Trusting still have a very high view of the health risks: nine in 10 see COVID-19 as a risk to others and the group estimates they have a 45 per cent chance of being hospitalised if they catch the virus.
  • Seven in 10 say COVID deaths are one of the two most serious problems caused by the pandemic, well ahead of the economy.
  • They are split on the current approach to relaxation, but are the most supportive of the three groups: 46 per cent say the lockdown is being eased too quickly, while 42 per cent say it’s about the right pace.
  • They are among the most accepting of continuing restrictions if a vaccine can’t be found, with half comfortable with children being home-schooled over the very long term.
  • Voted Conservative over Labour by 57 per cent to 20 per cent and Leave over Remain by 63 per cent to 37 per cent.

THE DISSENTING 

38 per cent of the UK.The most worried about the health risks and most critical of the government’s response:

Meanwhile, another 38 per cent of the public — in the group the experts have dubbed 'The Dissenting' — are concerned by both the virus and the government's response. Pictured, a protester outside Downing Street, London last month called for the sacking of government adviser Dominic Cummings following revelations that he broke lockdown rules

Meanwhile, another 38 per cent of the public — in the group the experts have dubbed ‘The Dissenting’ — are concerned by both the virus and the government’s response. Pictured, a protester outside Downing Street, London last month called for the sacking of government adviser Dominic Cummings following revelations that he broke lockdown rules

  • Nine in 10 think the lockdown is being eased too fast and just one in 10 support the relaxation measures announced on 10 May.
  • One in 10 trust the government to handle the crisis and 3 in 10 trust the information it provides — the lowest of the groups.
  • Just 4 per cent think the government has done a good job of protecting people.
  • 44 per cent think the authorities are deliberately reducing or hiding the coronavirus death toll — the most of any group.
  • Nine in 10 see COVID-19 as a risk to others and the group estimates they have a 47 per cent chance of being hospitalised from the virus.
  • Eight in 10 say COVID deaths are one of the two most serious problems, ahead of impacts on the economy and education.
  • They are the most accepting of restrictions staying in place over the very long term if no vaccine is available.
  • They are the least comfortable with returning to normal — one in 10 would feel fine sending their children back to school when allowed.
  • Voted Labour over Conservative by 52 per cent to 16 per cent and Remain over Leave by 67 per cent to 33 per cent.

THE FRUSTRATED 

24 per cent of the UK. The least worried about the health risks, most likely to be finding lockdown hard and most likely to think the restrictions should be lifted faster:

The remaining 24 per cent of people — 'The Frustrated' — are the least worried about the health risks of the global pandemic, the most likely to be finding the experience of lockdown hard and most inclined to think restrictions should be lifted faster (stock image)

The remaining 24 per cent of people — ‘The Frustrated’ — are the least worried about the health risks of the global pandemic, the most likely to be finding the experience of lockdown hard and most inclined to think restrictions should be lifted faster (stock image) 

  • Two in five think the lockdown is being relaxed too slowly, around six times as many as the other groups.
  • They are most likely to say they’re finding the lockdown hard and over half say the current measures will become extremely difficult for them within eight weeks.
  • Six in 10 say the economy and jobs are one of the two most serious problems, compared with three in 10 who say increased deaths are more serious — a much greater emphasis on the economy than other groups.
  • Half think too much fuss is being made about the risk of the virus, making them over 10 times more likely to have this view than the Dissenting.
  • The most ambivalent on the government’s response, but a third think the number of coronavirus deaths is being deliberately exaggerated by the authorities — the most of any group.
  • The most likely to be facing job losses and financial difficulties.
  • The most comfortable about returning to their workplace and children going back to school and least accepting of restrictions continuing over the very long term if a vaccine can’t be found.
  • Half see COVID-19 as a risk to others and the group estimates they have a 26 per cent chance of being hospitalised from the virus — much lower than the other groups.
  • Voted Conservative over Labour by 42 per cent to 32 per cent and Leave over Remain by 56 per cent to 44 per cent.

 SOURCE: King’s College London



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