Tory MPs turn on Dominic Cummings’ ‘government by focus group’ approach
- Credit: Getty Images
Boris Johnson's 'government by focus group' approach - favoured by his senior aide Dominic Cummings - is causing growing discontent amongst Tory MPs after a number of contracts were revealed by a Sunday newspaper.
The Sunday Times reports that millions of pounds are being spent on surveys and focus groups to track public opinion on government's handling of coronavirus and other policies.
MPs told the newspaper that such reliance on data meant that government was avoiding clear 'leadership', prompting an expletive from a Downing Street insider.
The Cabinet Office ordered a two-year contract with YouGov to survey the public on British attitudes, but the cost of the contract is estimated to have already exceeded the £318,700 projection due to the amount of polling required, after just one year.
You may also want to watch:
The newspaper reports that Hanbury Strategy, set up by Vote Leave communications chief Paul Stephenson and former Downing Street adviser Ameet Gill, have been carrying out separate coronavirus polling.
And Public First has started a year-long £840,000 contract to conduct virtual focus groups from March.
- 1 Brexiteer Prue Leith quits Tory Party after government votes down motion to protect UK food standards
- 2 Brexit shambles: A stress of our own making
- 3 Priti Patel set to hand private firms £28 million in government contracts to deport asylum seekers from UK
- 4 Group in protest against Tory MPs who voted down free school meals targets offices with empty plates
- 5 These are the 322 Tory MPs who voted against extending free school meals to children
- 6 Tory minister blames journalists for NHS Test and Trace failure as he defends Dido Harding
- 7 Betty Boothroyd delivers scathing assessment of Boris Johnson's government
- 8 Michel Barnier postpones Brussels return as Brexit trade talks in London continue
- 9 How the Daily Star became Boris Johnson's biggest critic
- 10 Boris Johnson 'plans to resign' in six months because he can't live on £150k salary
Another focus group, Britain Thinks, is said to have secured a contract with the Department of Health.
The business, created by Gordon Brown's preferred pollster Deborah Mattinson, is said to be starting a £2 million deal with the Department for Transport.
It is also claimed pollster Kantar has agreed £705,000 contract with the Cabinet Office for 'social research services' over the next six months.
A Tory backbencher hit out at the claims, by telling the newspaper: 'Leadership is about leading. The clue is in the name...
'We've taken an age to get shops and pubs open. At the moment we are seeing neither leadership or competence.'
But one source with a pollster - said to be an ally of Johnson - pointed out that 'all governments do polling, there is just more of it'.
They added: 'There is a word for government by focus group: it's 'government''.
A senior figure in government used an expletive to dismiss the allegations.
'The idea that we are not making decisions unless a poll says we can is bullsh*t.
'The best evidence for that is that we are opening up and the polling evidence is that the public does not really want to.'
Last month it was reported that Dominic Cummings favoured a 'Vote Leave approach' to guiding the government on lockdown, by referring to focus groups to guide decisions.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.