4 in 10 Britons think country heading in wrong direction but Johnson much more popular than Starmer among their own voters

The September 2021 Ipsos MORI Political Pulse indicates the public are split along party lines when considering whether the country is headed in the right direction or the wrong direction.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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  • Ahead of party conferences, 44% think Britain is heading in the wrong direction. 29% right direction.
  • More Britons unfavourable towards Conservatives and Labour than favourable
  • But Johnson has slightly higher favourable numbers than Starmer as Conservatives like Johnson more than Labour voters like Starmer

Ahead of party conference season, a new Ipsos MORI poll of Britons aged 18+ (taken before the recent NI announcement) shows that 44% of Britons think things are heading in the wrong direction (no change from July) and 29% think things are heading in the right direction (-1 point). The data shows a predictable party split on this measure with 48% of 2019 Conservative voters saying things are heading in the right direction compared to 64% of Labour voters saying things are heading in the wrong direction.

Favourability towards parties

Roughly equal numbers of Britons are favourable towards the two main political parties with more Britons being unfavourable than favourable for both:

  • 28% favourable towards the Conservatives (+1 point from July) and 43% unfavourable (-2 points).
  • 25% are favourable towards Labour (-1 point from July) and 44% are unfavourable (+2 points).
  • Equal numbers of 2019 Conservative and Labour voters are favourable towards their respective parties. 59% of 2019 Conservative voters are favourable towards the Conservative Party and 60% of 2019 Labour voters are favourable towards the Labour Party.

Favourability towards political parties - September 2021 - Ipsos MORI


Favourability towards leaders

More Britons are unfavourable towards Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer than are favourable but Johnson enjoys higher favourables than Starmer as Conservative voters feel warmer to him than Labour voters do to Starmer.

  • Overall, 28% of Britons are favourable towards Johnson (+1 point from July) and 46% are unfavourable (-1 point).  58% of 2019 Conservative voters are favourable towards Johnson.
  • For Starmer, 20% are favourable overall (-3 points from July) and 44% are unfavourable (+6) – returning him to scores seen in June. In contrast to Johnson’s position with Conservatives, just 39% of 2019 Labour voters are favourable towards Starmer.
  • Elsewhere, Rishi Sunak’s favourables continue to fall. 34% are favourable towards the Chancellor and 30% unfavourable. In March – post Budget – 44% were favourable and 25% unfavourable.
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has the lowest favourables on our list with just 16% of Britons favourable and 45% unfavourable.

Favourability of leading politicians - September 2021 - Ipsos MORI


Favourability of leading politicians: Among those who voted for their party at GE2019 - September 2021 - Ipsos MORI

Impact of Brexit

  • 43% think the UK's decision to leave the EU has had a negative impact on the country (+3 points from July) and 30% think it has had a positive impact (-3 points). Meanwhile, 20% think it has made no difference and 7% say they don’t know.

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos MORI Research Director Keiran Pedley said

As we approach party conference season neither the Conservatives nor Labour enjoy a particular strong brand position, with more Britons negative than positive about both. However, Johnson goes into his conference in a stronger position than Starmer, with Conservative voters more positive about the Prime Minister than Labour voters are about their leader. Whether this remains to be the case as the row over National Insurance and Social Care rumbles on is still to be determined.

Technical note
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,143 Britons aged 18+. Interviews were conducted online from 3rd to 6th September 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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