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Great article for teaching voting behaviour (and maybe power of PM too)

Mike McCartney

27th July 2021

The 'week of chaos' may not be up there with the likes of Black Wednesday, but with hindsight it might be pivotal?

There is a good feature in the Guardian detailing in a blow-by-blow way how the government managed to present an image of a government out of its depth. A week in late July 2021, as I've said, may not be the Black Wednesday moment (end of Major and ushering in of a government that could have been led by any Labour leader, in my view, it just happened to be Blair) moment, or be as decisive as the Winter of Discontent (Callaghan to Thatcher). But in terms of voting behaviour, when the electorate makes up its mind, past performance of the incumbent government matters.

So when teaching this in Year 12 it might be worth have a look at this as an aide memoire as to how confused messages from the government became, and how it seemed to flip flop on an almost daily basis.

And if you look at my posting from yesterday on opinion polls, you will see that the majority of voters just don't trust the PM. I think this links closely with events a couple of weekends back:

"Sunday: to self-isolate or not?

On Saturday, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced he had tested positive for Covid, a day after being pictured leaving meetings at Downing Street. Sure enough, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, were – like hundreds of thousands of Britons this week – “pinged” as close contacts. But on Sunday morning, a No 10 statement announced that Johnson and Sunak would avoid the usual 10 days of self isolation as they were taking part in a pilot scheme allowing them to carry on with “essential government business” while having daily tests. Three hours later, amid growing anger, the decision was reversed."

The reaction of many voters has been that it seems that those in power think that they should be able to play by a different set of rules from the masses, and it chimed very much with the reaction to the curious decision by Boris Johnson's former senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, to test his eyesight by driving 30 miles to Barnard Castle.

Or I could be completely wrong about the significance of the past week or so, and voters might decide that the government has done a bad job, but, hey (a) could anyone else have handled it significantly better, past (eg Blair or Cameron)? (b) and, how many other national governments have a strong record of competence in responding to the pandemic - Singapore?

The full version of the article I'm referring to can be found online here:

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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