So who gets your vote? Andy Burnham? Rishi Sunak? Which politician deserves most credit for supporting the interests of hospitality?

In the absence of any rational national conversation, the covid crisis is becoming ever more political, factional and even tribal – and the pub, bar and restaurant sector is being drawn in ever closer to the heart of the political feuding. And there’s the danger.

It makes perfect sense that northern operators trapped in tiers two and three have backed the Greater Manchester mayor’s stand-off with the Government over providing proper financial support for businesses, and most importantly their staff, hit by tougher restrictions.

In fact, it makes sense for the whole sector to cheer Andy Burnham on in that shared objective – in the same way many North West Conservative MPs are standing up for their region.

But politics can be seductive – and politicians always have their own agendas.

What’s vital, as different parts of the kingdom choose their own approaches to lockdown and the threat of a nationwide ‘circuit breaker’ remains a real possibility, is that the hospitality sector remains united and holds the line – which it has managed to do remarkably well over the past six months.

This is not a party political fight, even if cabinet ministers would like to characterize it as one. Neither is it a North v South issue, as parts of the media often paint it. Hospitality shouldn’t be drawn into either.

The sector’s collective objectives, as argued for by our trade bodies like UK Hospitality and the BBPA, are pretty straightforward. The crucial one is for the Government to fund proper financial support for businesses affected by the new restrictions, directly or indirectly – and that includes the market’s wider supplier network. It’s about saving jobs.

Our representatives are also pressing to see hard, data-backed evidence that justifies both further lockdowns and specific restrictions on hospitality sites, including the 10pm curfew.

If any politicians share those objectives, we should be working with them – and hospitality has advocates on both sides of the House, from shadow business secretary Ed Miliband to influential Tory back-bencher Sir Ian Duncan-Smith.

But the crucial point is that it is still Government ministers that hold the purse strings and ultimately call the shots. Despite the fact that they daily infuriate beyond belief, lines of communication must be kept open for the likes of UK Hospitality to keep making the case and presenting the data highlighting hospitality’s predicament to individual departments. Much as it hurts, nothing should be done to jeopardise that, hard though it may be to remain civil.

Much of those conversations with officials are about guideline clarifications and small wins on interpretations that together may not make the headlines but can nevertheless make operational life just a little easier.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in particular, needs to be kept onside, not least because he has provided valuable assistance already in the form of furlough, the VAT-cut on food sales and Eat Out To Help Out. Don’t provoke him into slamming the Treasury door.

As I’ve written in this column before: now is the time for cool heads and hard data. It’s going to be a tough autumn. In the Martin household, by the way, we have introduced our own rule-of-seven – no shouting at Radio 4 before 7am. It’s not an easy rule to stick to.

The focus on political campaigning can obscure the fact that there are other constituencies that need to be engaged with, notably the wider public. It is an uncomfortable truth that the British people may not always be on hospitality’s side.

Don’t be fooled by social media; we are all self-selectors when it comes to Twitter. Successive opinion polls show widespread support for the Government’s current measures. Eighty five per cent of Britons back the regular use of masks, and 69% support closing pubs and restaurants at 10pm, according to a YouGov survey at the start of October. In addition, 85% back working from home and 82% support table service only in restaurants and pubs.

There is little evidence to suggest the populace is ready for an uprising against these ‘draconian’ laws. Infact, the opposite is probably true, with another poll suggesting a hefty 40% of people don’t think the measures go far enough.

As I suggested in a recent tweet, the results might be different if the questions were accompanied by the phrase ‘even if you or a member of your family were to lose their jobs’. But as we stand the Government can always fall back on that stated public opinion, as the Labour Party is in calling for a national ‘circuit break’.

While we have plenty of hard data, thanks to the We Hear You initiative, to show that those going to pubs and restaurants are more than satisfied with the health and safety measures in place across most of venues, even these customers still remain nervous about going out in general and into crowded areas like city centres in particular.

Eat Out To Help Out proved that there is a demand among a large proportion of the public to continue going out to eat and drink, but with every week the numbers of visits as well as sales have fallen, and not only in areas with the new tier restrictions. Consumer confidence is taking a pounding, with the talk of rising cases and pubs and restaurants closing undermining all the good work of August.

The big challenge now is how can individual operators keep trade, and their businesses, alive even away from the infection hotspots? It’s time to stay close to your customers, up the communication, keep the quality of product and experience, make them feel special, give them confidence. Those are the things you can control – with politicians it’s a little more difficult.