Along with finding huge support for more devolution of powers from Whitehall to London’s Mayor – and city Mayors elsewhere in England – the recent Savanta ComRes poll for Centre for Cities posed some interesting questions about how different layers of government have responded to the challenge of the pandemic. They found some interesting variations and a rather striking overall result.
The panel of 605 Londoners were asked to what extent they approve or disapprove of how the UK government, the Mayor of London and “your local council” are handling the Covid-19 outbreak.
The government got the largest proportion of Londoners who “strongly approve” of what they’ve done (16 per cent) and who “strongly disapprove” (19 per cent) but did much better in the “somewhat approve” category compared with the “somewhat disapprove” (27 to 16), to end up with an overall approval rating of plus eight per cent.
The Mayor ended up in almost exactly the same place, with a plus seven per cent net score comprised of lower figures across the board – ten per cent “strongly approve” and 25 per cent “somewhat approve” compared with 13 per cent who “strongly disapprove” and 15 per cent who ‘somewhat disapprove”.
But it’s the boroughs who come out come out by far the best. Although, at 14 per cent, fewer Londoners “strongly approve” of their performance than approve of the government’s, local councils draw level on overall approval with a 29 per cent “somewhat approve” score, giving them an overall approval rating of plus 43.
Where they pull ahead of both the government and the Mayor is in their much lower disapporval scores: 10 per cent “strongly disapprove” and 12 per cent “somewhat disapprove”, leaving a net approval rating of plus 21.
What explains this? Is it because London’s councils have become more noticeable during the pandemic, as mobilisers and organisers of support for the vulnerable and local businesses and as deliverers of public health messages? Is it, perhaps by contrast, because people tend to see them as less important in the struggle to contain and defeat the virus than the government and Mayor Khan and less culpable for its failings accordingly?
Whatever the reason, it would be nice to think that genuine appreciation for the efforts of London’s hard-pressed councils accounts for at least some of the healthy net positive rating the Savanta ComRes findings give them.
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