Consensus secured? Elite and public attitudes to "lockdown" measures to combat Covid-19 in England

Collignon, Sofia and Makropoulos, Iakovos and Rüdig, Wolfgang (2021) Consensus secured? Elite and public attitudes to "lockdown" measures to combat Covid-19 in England. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 31 (sup1). pp. 109-121. ISSN 1745-7289 (

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Previous empirical social science research on Covid-19 has mainly focused on predicting compliance with behavioural instructions in terms of demographics and socioeconomic determinants. In terms of political variables, trust in government and left-right political orientation has been a major focus of research. One aspect that so far appears to have been ignored is the attitudes of political elites and how they compare with the attitudes of those they represent. Based on a survey of local councillors and members of the public in England in the early phase of the lockdown, we can show that the UK government lockdown measures enjoyed overwhelming support among local elites as well as the general public. However, we can also find sources of lack of support and consensus even at this early stage: While younger and male members of the public, as well as members of the LGBT community, were less enthusiastic about the lockdown, opposition among the public is mainly based on "populist" attitudes that became prominent in the Brexit debate such as evaluations of immigration and scepticism about climate change. These sources of dissent could be expected to become more prominent as the pandemic unravels.