Almost 9 in 10 say Britain needs a fresh team of leaders

The latest Ipsos Political Monitor has found almost 9 in 10 say Britain needs a fresh team of leaders.

  • 6 in 10 say Conservatives out of date – the highest figure Ipsos has recorded for the party since this question was first asked in 2011.
  • Labour lead at 20 points – though public split on whether party is ready for government 

Chart showing 86% of Britons agreeing that Britain needs a fresh team of leaders

The latest Ipsos Political Monitor, taken 6th to 12th September 2023, explored public attitudes to the Labour and Conservative parties and their leaders, when the next General Election should take place and headline voting intention.

Voting intention  

  • Voting intention: Labour lead stands at 20 points. Labour 44% (-1 from July), Conservatives 24% (-4), Lib Dems 12% (nc), Greens 8% (+2), Other 11% (+2pts).
  • 46% of those with a voting intention have ‘definitely decided’ who they are going to vote for. 50% say they may change their mind. Current Conservative voters are as likely to change their mind (48%) as current Labour voters (47%).  
  • This figure is not unusual at this stage – for example in August 2014 56% said they may change their minds – but normally over the course of an election campaign more make up their minds.

Leader satisfaction ratings

  • 8 in 10 Britons are dissatisfied with the way the Government is running the country. 12% are satisfied, giving a net score of -68, matching the worst under Rishi Sunak and similar to the -69 just before Liz Truss left office last year
  • 22% are satisfied with the job Rishi Sunak is doing as PM (-4 from July) and 66% are dissatisfied (+3).  His net satisfaction score of -44 is his lowest as PM and rivals those of Boris Johnson (-45) and Theresa May (-44) immediately before they left office.
  • Keir Starmer registers a net satisfaction rating of -22 with 29% satisfied with the job he is doing as Labour leader (-2 from July) and 51% dissatisfied (-2).

Starmer vs Sunak in-depth

  • Keir Starmer is seen as the most capable PM by 36% and Rishi Sunak by 32%. Starmer’s 4-point lead is similar to July where he led by 5 points (36% to 31%).
  • Looking deeper, Starmer leads Sunak on a range of leadership traits:Leader image ratings for Starmer and Sunak
  • Compared to December, Rishi Sunak’s ratings are either the same or have dipped, particularly on being a capable leader (down 7), sound judgement (down 6), understanding Britain’s problems (down 7), and being out of touch (up 10) and more style than substance (up 9).  
  • However Keir Starmer has also only really improved on one metric since December – being good in a crisis (up 5) – otherwise his scores show little change, while have got worse on being out of touch (up 14) and being more style than substance (up 7), and have also dipped on being more honest than most (down 5).  

Labour and the Conservatives in-depth

  • 86% think Britain needs a fresh team of leaders, +6 points from May 2023, and higher than the 76% who felt this in March 2010.  However the public are split on whether Labour is ready for government (38% agree and 43% disagree). This has got slightly worse for Labour since July when 43% thought they were ready, and is the first net negative score Labour has received on this metric since July 2022.
  • 69% disagree that the word competent is an accurate way to describe the current Conservative government. Just 16% say it is accurate. This is even worse than earlier this year (in March 62% disagreed they were competent).
  • 63% do not believe that the Conservatives deserve to be re-elected (again up from 56% in May), 21% agree they do (-2 pts).  After a slight improvement in May this is back to where they were in December last year. 
  • 61% consider the Conservatives ‘out of date’, up 7 since March and the highest score the party has registered on this measure since Ipsos started asking the question in 2011. 61% said the same about Labour in October 2016 under Jeremy Corbyn but 42% say that about Labour today (although that is still worse for Labour than in March).
  • Labour leads on most other positive party image metrics, such as understanding the problems facing Britain (by 46% to 24%), being fit to govern (by 34% to 21%), and looking after the interests of people like me (by 34% to 16%)Party image ratings

Next General Election

  • 61% expect Labour to be the largest party at the next General Election. There has been a slight increase in those expecting an outright Labour majority (27%, up 7 since May), while 34% say Labour will be the largest party in a hung parliament (down 9). Just 27% expect the Conservatives to be the largest party, with just 9% expecting a Conservative majority.
  • One in four (26%) think the next General Election should take place before the end of this year, rising to 37% amongst current Labour voters and falling to 9% amongst current Conservatives. A majority want the election next year (33% January to June and 22% July to December). 14% want the election as late as possible (January 2025), including 3 in 10 current Conservative voters (31%).

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said:

There is little sign that the challenges facing the Conservatives have got any easier over the summer: unhappiness with the government’s performance remains high, Rishi Sunak’s ratings are slipping as more see him as out of touch, and the party’s image as a whole is a long way down from when they were winning elections over the previous decade.  As we enter the conference season Labour will be much the happier, with a solid lead and ahead of the Conservatives on most key metrics.  
But viewed in isolation Labour and Keir Starmer’s ratings are only lukewarm – Keir Starmer has also seen a rise in those thinking him out of touch, and while the party has removed some of the negativity towards it several of the more positive image scores are not that much different from a decade ago.  So, while the Conservatives are clearly struggling against a strong public sense that it is time for a fresh team in charge, Labour haven’t completely convinced Britons that they are the answer to that question either – but despite that they are still the public’s favourites to win.

Technical note:

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,004 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone between the 6th to 12th September 2023. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. 

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