Ahead of Batley and Spen by-election 6 in 10 Britons think it is unclear what Labour leader Keir Starmer stands for

The June 2021 Ipsos MORI Political Pulse finds that while favourability towards Boris Johnson and the Conservatives has fallen, just 1 in 4 think Keir Starmer and the Labour Party would do a better job.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
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New polling from Ipsos MORI’s Political Pulse series, taken over the weekend of the 25th -28th June shows:

  • Just 30% of Britons say it is very clear or fairly clear what Keir Starmer stands for. 60% think it is not very clear or not clear at all– including two in five (41%) 2019 Labour voters.
  • 52% think it is clear what Prime Minister Boris Johnson stands for – including 79% of 2019 Conservative voters. 40% of Britons overall think it is unclear.
  • Favourability towards Johnson and the Conservative Party has fallen since May – but just 1 in 4 Britons think Labour under Starmer would do a better job in government.

Is it clear what Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer stand for? Ipsos MORI

Are things in Britain heading in the right or wrong direction?

  • 40% of Britons think the country is heading in the wrong direction (+6 pts from May), 35% think things are heading in the right direction (-12) The.net rating on this measure falls from +13 to -5 since May. The worst net rating since January this year.

How favourable are the public towards the parties and leading politicians?

  • As we may expect, public favourability towards Matt Hancock has fallen sharply. 17% of Britons are favourable towards the former Health Secretary (-14 pts since May) and 56% unfavourable (+20 pts). His net rating now stands at -39 rather than -5 in May.
  • Interestingly, favourability towards Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party also fall to figures not seen since January and February this year.
    • 33% of Britons are favourable towards Boris Johnson this month (-7 pts from May), 47% are unfavourable (+7 pts). Net favourability falls from zero in May to -14 this month.
    • Overall 31% of Britons are favourable towards the Conservative Party (-5 pts from May). 45% are unfavourable (+6 pts). Net favourability towards the party has fallen to -14 this month from -3 in May.
  • However, falling popularity for Johnson and the Conservatives is not followed by rising support for Starmer and Labour. For both, numbers are largely unchanged.
    • For Keir Starmer, just one in five Britons are favourable towards the Labour leader (20%, -1 pt from May). 45% are unfavourable (+2 pts). His net favourable ratings virtually unchanged at -25 compared to -22 in May.
    • For the Labour Party a similar story is told. 25% of Britons are favourable towards the Labour Party (-2 pts from May) and 45% are unfavourable (+3 pts). Net favourability towards the party stands at -20 now rather than -15 in May.

Are the Conservatives doing well in government? Would Labour do better?

  • 32% think the current Conservative government, led by Boris Johnson, is doing well at running the country. 44% say it is doing badly. 21% have no opinion. 3% don’t know.
  • However, when asked whether a Labour government, led by Keir Starmer, would do any better just one in four (26%) think it would do a better job, 36% think it would do worse and 27% say it would make no difference. 11% don’t know.

Impact of leaving the EU

  • Meanwhile 32% think the UK decision to leave the EU has had a positive impact on the country (-4 pts from May). 44% say negative (+3 pts).

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos MORI Director of Politics Keiran Pedley said:

It will concern Keir Starmer and his supporters that 6 in 10 Britons are unclear what he stands for. Meanwhile, at a time when favourability towards Johnson and the Conservatives appears to have fallen, it is striking that just one in four Britons think Labour would do a better job in government. In this context, whispers about Starmer’s leadership may well grow louder if Labour lose the Batley and Spen by-election this week.

Technical note
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,128 British adults aged 18+. Interviews were conducted online from 25th and 28th June 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

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