How the UK’s political landshape could be ROCKED by government’s handling of COVID-19

The poll spoke to 2,823 people. The virus has led many to ponder what would happen in politics over the coming years as a result, not just from voters but also from parties. Dr Dionyssis G. Dimitrakopoulos, a senior lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London’s Department of Politics, speaking to express.co.uk said: “I think there is one certainty about the crisis and that’s in the aftermath ruling right-wing parties and right-wing parties in opposition will say that cutbacks are necessary in order to balance the books.

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“The right-wing parties will claim that these amounts of public expenditure is unsustainable and the response is and I quote, ‘it needs to be rationalised’.

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“It will be up to parties of the social-democratic political family to make the case for a different kind of expenditure that will preempt the kind of catastrophic situations that countries like the UK are faced with.”

Dr Dimitrakopoulos continued: “If you compare the UK with countries like Germany, you will see differences in the reaction and of the consequence of the number of people who have lost their lives.”

At the time of writing, there have been at least 26,097 confirmed deaths from the virus in the United Kingdom and 6,374 in Germany.


Dr Dmitrakopolous explained, “part of the difference has to with spending, for many years right-wing parties and New Labour have won elections by a large extent by claiming one has to balance the books, we have now seen the limits of this approach and it will be up to social democratic parties to make the case for an alternative.”

According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK spent £2,989 per person on healthcare, which was slightly above the £2,913 per person median for members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which contains 37 developed countries, with high rankings on the human development index.

However, this was the second-lowest of G7 members, with Germany’s figure registering at £4,442 per person.

Dr Dmitrakopoulos said the virus could create conditions for social democratic politics to prosper: “One of the big advantages of the Conservative Party is that they have always changed rhetoric, even people who have acted before against a protective welfare state are now using language that seeks to protect the welfare state.

“I have no doubt in the ability of political parties in the UK on the right to deploy this kind of rhetoric in order to remain in power, the same applies to other political parties in the same family in Europe.

“There’s an instinctive reaction on the part of ruling parties to adapt their rhetoric in order to suit the public mood. Whether this translates to public policy as well remains to be seen.”

Coronavirus is expected to cause massive repercussions for the economy, Peter Altmaier, German Economic Affairs and Energy Minister has said the German GDP is expected to shrink by 6.3 percent.

Dr Patrick Diamond, a senior public policy lecturer at Queen Mary University London told express.co.uk: “In the last economic crisis in 2008, there was obviously a big political argument in the aftermath of the crisis about essentially who pays.

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“In this country, as in a number of countries, the basic answer was austerity.

“The emphasis was basically on quite significant cuts in large parts of the public services and also in large areas of the welfare state.”

Dr Diamond added he thought the virus had shown how much strange some public services were under, in particular social care, which has recently seen volunteer group, National Care Force, hoping to recruit an extra 100,000 social care volunteers.

He added: “Obviously, we don’t know exactly how exactly the outcome of this pandemic would be in the United States, but I think the big debate would be has the US performed worse in this pandemic in terms of mortality rates and infection rates because it doesn’t have publicly funded healthcare systems in the same way Germany or indeed Britain has.

“But even within countries with publicly funded health care systems like the UK, there would obviously need to be a debate on whether we need to spend more on health and again if we’re going to spend more on health, who’s going to pay for that?

“How can we have a better-funded healthcare system that is able to withstand the shocks of pandemics?”

Dr Diamond said he expected to see centre-right parties look to delay debates on increasing taxation for as long as possible and added: “Obviously at the moment in the sense, the distinction between left and right has been blurred because if you think about the British Conservative Government, it’s spending and borrowing on levels, which is in some respects, unprecedented.

“In that sense, it’s not quite clear where the boundary between left and right sits. I think in terms of the longer-term political argument, the parties on the centre-right will want to emphasise more on restoring the health of the economy.”

Dr Diamond said he expected the Government would look to create programmes through which business “can thrive, reducing regulation, , emphasises things like loans to businesses which can help get businesses restarted and so on.”

The reason he felt the party would look to resist debate on taxation for as long as it can, he explained: “If you think about the Conservative Party in Britain, they’ve been elected winning seats in parts of Britain they’ve never won seats in before, part of their whole agenda is levelling up, I think for the Government to raise taxes in those parts of the country it won over would be extremely difficult politically.”

The 2019 election saw the Labour Partys’ ‘Red Wall’ crumble losing around a fifth of the voter in these seats, with the Tories tacking Bassetlaw and Bishop Auckland (both Labour since 1935), Bolsover which had been held by Labour since creation, Don Valley held by Labour since 1922, Tony Blair’s former Sedgefield seat and Wakefield held by Labour since 1932 amongst others.

Dr Diamond added: “I think for social democrats today one of the arguments they’d be making will be you can’t have that kind of austerity again because you can’t cut public services more than you have.”

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