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The Guardian view on top-down politics in a pandemic: a fatal error | Editorial

As a new study of the government’s handling of Covid makes clear, good policymaking depends on listening to voices beyond Whitehall Humility is not a quality that one instinctively associates with Boris Johnson or his ministers. But an important research paper published on Tuesday by the Institute for Government shows why it should be considered a primary political virtue, particularly in a pandemic. As the IfG’s report illustrates, the government has instead showcased all too often the dangers of an arrogant refusal to listen beyond its Whitehall bunkers. Released to coincide with the first anniversary of lockdown, and relying on interviews with public servants and politicians, the study concludes that where pandemic policymaking worked well, it was because of “broad, meaningful input from people across central, devolved and local government, the wider public sector, civil society academia and businesses”. The trade unions, for example, played an important role in the design of the economic support packages that provided early reassurance to households and businesses. Continue reading...

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