March 23, 2023 - 7:00am

Three years on from the imposition of the first Covid lockdown, new polling from UnHerd Britain shows that much of the population still feels the measures were justified. When presented with the statement ‘In retrospect, lockdowns were a mistake’, just 27% of respondents agree compared to 54% who disagree, with 19% ambivalent. 

The polling, conducted by FocalData, looked at responses from 10,000 voters and used MRP to produce estimates for all 632 constituencies in Great Britain, excluding the Northern Irish constituencies which are more difficult to estimate using this method. There is not a single one of these 632 constituencies in which there is more agreement than disagreement with the statement. Despite what might appear to be a nationwide consensus, though, there are clear trends between the areas which remain committed to the pandemic measures, and those in which dissent is more likely. 

Just as UnHerd’s polling on environmental issues found that the most green-sceptic constituencies are located in Yorkshire, the county is also the UK’s most lockdown-sceptic area. The two most lockdown-sceptic constituencies are Leeds Central and Kingston upon Hull North, while the top ten also features Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle; Kingston upon Hull East; and Rotherham. The list is rounded off by densely-populated urban areas in different parts of the UK: Birmingham, Ladywood; Barking; West Ham; Manchester Central; and Middlesborough. All ten are represented by a Labour MP. 

Source: UnHerd Britain/FocalData

The nine most pro-lockdown constituencies are in the south of England and the tenth, Kenilworth and Southam, is in Warwickshire in the West Midlands. Nine out of ten are represented by Conservative MPs. The exception is third-placed Chesham and Amersham, which has been represented by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Green since a 2021 by-election. It had previously been Conservative-held since its creation in 1974. These southern constituencies tend to be more affluent than the Labour-voting most lockdown-sceptic areas, with the latter not only predominantly urban but also far more likely to have high rates of unemployment. 

As one would expect, the older generation is less likely to think that lockdown was a mistake, with only 17% of people over the age of 65 agreeing with UnHerd’s statement. This increases to 22% of the 55-64 bracket, 27% among those aged 45-54, and 32% of the 35-44 group. Interestingly, the 25-34 bracket is more lockdown-sceptic than respondents in their late teens and early twenties, with 39% agreement compared to 34% among the 18-24 group. 

One conclusion to be drawn from this data is that lockdown was clearly kinder to those in leafy and well-off rural areas in the south of England, where the population is more likely to be of retirement age and welcoming of protective measures during a pandemic. Meanwhile, the industrial north, and poorer parts of London and other major cities, felt the brunt of the Government-imposed quarantine.

Yet, across the country, between age groups and political parties, we can see that Britain does not regret lockdown. Whether respondents feel that it was an appropriate remedy to an extraordinary problem or an exercise that should be repeated when a future health crisis rolls around is another matter.

Rob Lownie is UnHerd’s Assistant Editor, Newsroom.