The Coronavirus Act, passed in the House of Commons without a vote in March, gives the Government significant powers to restrict individual liberty, but at the same time, Parliament’s ability to scrutinise this and other legislation has been dealt a blow due to limited numbers of MPs being able to sit in the Chamber. Trust in the Government has also been seriously compromised by its handling of the crisis, with many believing the communication and enforcement of lockdown rules were inadequate.
One respondent is in his 30s and lives in the West Midlands. He works from home, and is appreciating the greater work life balance this affords him and his partner. However, his mother works in an NHS hospital and caught suspected COVID in April. Her experience upset him greatly:
“[She] took the 14 days off, but was never tested and was never offered a test or extra PPE, even on her return to work. She was very lucky as she has underlying health conditions. I’m still upset about the handling of the lockdown, medical equipment fiascos etc by this government. How they can look in the mirror, or down the barrel of a TV camera and continue to lie to us and expect us to trust them and still vote for them, I really don’t know.”
He has been active in his community during lockdown, helping out and becoming more familiar with his neighbours. This has confirmed his view that local communities need more support to flourish:
“I am very much into decentralisation of powers. Westminster has too much control, especially financially, over my local community. Money raised in taxes needs to go back to local communities, and not stay in Westminster..”
His trust in Government has been greatly undermined by their handling of the pandemic (including the Dominic Cummings affair) and how information has been shared.
“They [the English Government] are totally untrustworthy throughout the whole of lockdown. I have been listening to advice from Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and following their lockdown rules rather than listening to the Westminster government in England. I feel far more safe following the Welsh and Scottish rules than the English.
The biggest thing that would improve accountability to the people and a fair representation of the democratic will is if we changed all General Elections in future to some form of Proportional Representation. 43% of people voted for a party that now has 58% of the seats in parliament. Unfortunately, those 58% of seats have been largely controlled by one unelected adviser who has clearly broken his own lockdown rules and admitted to it on a live television broadcast. Those 58% of MPs have not stood up to this and they are still somehow allowed to be in charge for the next 4 years.
If things stay as they are, I will be leaving the UK and renouncing my citizenship. This is a life choice issue for me.”
“I have felt recently it getting like directorship and it’s going more that way. I voted for Boris but had reservations at the time. I do not trust this government and all their decisions. I do understand it’s a difficult time for anyone in charge. But we have had too much conflicting advice and bad timings and too many mistakes made for it to be ignored.”
Woman, 50s, West Midlands
“My trust in government has been shaken. As has my belief that if you are an honest, upstanding member of society, you act well and expect to be treated well in return. I don’t expect to ever engage in the democratic process again.”
Woman, 50s, East of England
“I’ve come to realise how corrupt our current government are and how easy it is for them to lie to us. There’s a democratic deficit that needs to be addressed.”
Woman, 40s, East Midlands
“People in general have forgotten how to use common sense! People seem to need constant instruction and hand holding which has shocked me. I don’t want a dictatorship government I want democratic and I believe Boris and team achieved the right balance between making demands (to keep us safe) and allowing for common sense approach.”
Woman, 30s, South West England