UK

Government ‘spent taxpayers’ money on conducting political polling’

Government ‘spent taxpayers’ money for political polling on opposition leaders after Dominic Cummings ordered surveys to gauge public attitudes on initial coronavirus crisis’, new emails published by Good Law Project suggest

  • Emails unearthed as part of an ongoing legal challenge against Government
  • They appear to show consultancy firm was instructed to conduct political polling
  • Emails suggest that civil servants were uncomfortable and concerned at move 

The Government spent taxpayers’ money on conducting political polling during the coronavirus pandemic, newly uncovered emails suggest. 

The Good Law Project is in the process of a legal challenge against the Government over a decision to award a contract to what the group described as ‘associates’ of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings at the Hanbury Strategy consultancy firm.    

Documents unearthed as part of the legal proceedings and published by the group today suggest that Hanbury was instructed by the Cabinet Office to carry out polling on opposition figures including Sir Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan.

The emails also suggest that civil servants were concerned and uncomfortable about the move. 

The Government spent taxpayers’ money on conducting political polling relating to Boris Johnson’s Labour rivals during the pandemic, newly uncovered emails suggest

One official said: ‘hanbury measure attitude towards political figures, which they shouldn’t do using government money, but they have been asked to and it’s a battle that i think is hard to fight’. 

Meanwhile, a March 2020 email appeared to show Mr Cummings had asked officials to ‘immediately’ give the green light to polling work getting underway into public attitudes during the early stages of the coronavirus crisis. 

Mr Johnson’s former top aide apparently added: ‘Anybody in CABOFF whines tell them i ordered it from PM’.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said the emails published by the Good Law Project showed the ‘hallmarks of a racket, not a government acting in the national interest during a pandemic’.

She said: ‘Taxpayers’ money that has been abused in this way should be paid back by the Conservative Party. 

‘Taxpayers’ money is not the personal cashpoint of Conservative Ministers to dish out to their mates.’ 

Asked whether Mr Johnson believes it is acceptable to spend taxpayers’ money on political polling, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said at lunchtime: ‘As you say, it is an ongoing legal proceeding so I can’t comment specifically on any of it.

‘But in general, in response to what was an unprecedented global pandemic it was vital that we undertook research into public attitudes and behaviours.’  

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