COVID-19 Opinion: 'Blame Wars and COVID-19'

‘Arguments about blame and responsibility have already begun. Without a collaboration, times of crisis like the Covid-19 crisis are enveloped in credit grabbing and finger pointing. Both political parties and public service organisations face tricky choices over whether to collaborate or compete over who gets credit and blame.’

Christopher Hood, Emeritus Professor of Government, compares the current COVID-19 pandemic with World War I. There are worrying strategic parallels, he says, such as the hope that the current crisis will be ‘over-by-Christmas’ and paid for by borrowing (a debt that will be felt long after a Coronavirus cure is found).

‘Even though that government is studiously reaching out to other players, the absence of a formal grand coalition runs the risk of a blame dynamic like that which developed over the conduct of World War I by Herbert Asquith’s Liberal Government.’

The blame game goes beyond party politics of government, he says, risking fissions between the public and ‘front-line’ key workers, and its ‘leaders’ within the government machine. These challenges, Hood writes, are not trivial, nor are they going to be short-lived: ‘The coronavirus blame game has barely started. There’s a long way to go, even – perhaps especially – after the current episode finally ends.’

'Blame Wars and COVID-19' was originally published by the Institute of Art and Ideas

During the global COVID-19 pandemic the department has decided to share opinion and blog pieces written by members of the faculty, who are bringing their unique research perspectives to engage with the big questions of the day. The views expressed within these articles do not represent the department’s official view, instead they shine a light on the intellectual plurality of our diverse community of academics and scholars.

Emeritus Professor Christopher Hood is Emeritus Professor of Government, Fellow, All Souls College