Ipsos MORI Political Monitor – Labour lead the Conservatives by 5 points

Ipsos MORI's October Political Monitor has the Labour party leading the Conservatives for the first time in Boris Johnson's premiership.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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  • Labour seen as less ‘divided’ and ‘extreme’ than before 2019 General Election – and more ‘fit to govern’
  • But Conservatives still seen as having best policies to manage COVID, the economy and Britain’s relationship with the EU

In a poll taken before the EHRC’s report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and before Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension, Labour leads the Conservatives by 5 points. Labour 42 (+5 from September), Conservatives 37 (-3) Lib Dems 8 (nc) Green 5 (nc) Others 9% (nc). This is the first Labour lead with Ipsos MORI of Johnson’s premiership.

voting intention

  • Falling public satisfaction with job Johnson is doing as PM. 33% satisfied (-7 from September), 59% dissatisfied (+5). Net satisfaction -26. Johnson's worst score with Ipsos MORI as PM.
  • Falling public satisfaction with how government is running the country. 30% satisfied (-5 from September), 61% dissatisfied (+4). Net satisfaction -31. Worst this year.
  • Starmer’s net satisfaction rating remains positive (+15). 45% satisfied (+2 from September), 30% dissatisfied (+3). Of opposition leaders going back to Foot, only Blair had better net satisfaction ratings at this stage of his leadership (+26).
  • 71% of Britons expect the economy to get worse in the next 12 months (+5 pts from September), 15% think it will improve (-6) and 10% say it will stay the same (nc). 4% don’t know (+1).


There's falling approval with how key players are handling coronavirus compared to August / September. Compared to September – when only satisfaction with government was asked:

  • 30% think Govt handling the coronavirus outbreak well (-2),50% badly (nc).

Compared to August when satisfaction with all players was asked:

  • 30% think Govt handling the coronavirus outbreak well (-12). 50% badly (+10)
  • 32% think Johnson handling the coronavirus outbreak well (-11).
  • 56% badly (+13). 51% think Sunak handling the coronavirus outbreak well (-9). 18% badly (+5).
  • Meanwhile, 33% think Starmer handling the coronavirus outbreak well (+2). 22% badly (+8).
  • 26% think Hancock is handling the outbreak well (-12).
  • 48% badly (+10) 49% think Whitty is handling the outbreak well (-13). 20% badly (+7)

40% trust Boris Johnson ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ to get the balance right between ‘protecting people's health and protecting the economy in the response to the coronavirus’. This compares to 45% for Keir Starmer, 57% for Rishi Sunak and 56% for Chris Whitty.

Party brands

  • Following the row over free school meals, Labour holds big leads over the Conservatives on ‘understands the problems facing Britain’ (+17), ‘looks after the interests of people like me’ (+12), ‘concerned about people in real need in Britain’ (+34).
  • Labour is seen as less ‘extreme’ (-30 points) and ‘divided’ (-23) than it was in November 2019 when Jeremy Corbyn was leader. It has also improved slightly on ‘has a good team of leaders’ (+8) and being ‘fit to govern’ (+6).
  • Since November 2019, the Conservatives have seen falls in being ‘fit to govern’ (-16), ‘has a good team of leaders’ (-13) and ‘understands the problems facing Britain’ (-12). They are also seen as less ‘divided’ (-10) or ‘out of date’ (-13) than in 2019.

Party image

Best party on policies

It is possible that Labour’s lead could be temporary as the Conservatives still lead Labour overall as being seen as having the best policies in certain areas.

Best policies

The Conservatives lead Labour on:

  • Handling Britain’s relationship with the EU (+9) – was Con +18 in Dec ‘19
  • Handling the coronavirus pandemic (+7)
  • Managing the economy (+18) – was Con +24 in Dec’19

Meanwhile Labour leads the Conservatives on:

  • Unemployment (+18) – was Con +2 in April ’15 (note the different comparison point)
  • Healthcare (+22) – was Lab +12 in Dec’19
  • Education (+8) – was Con +1 in Dec ‘19
  • Asylum and immigration (+4) – was Con +11 in Dec ‘19

Both are neck and neck on handling the environment (Con 13%; Lab 14%) while the Greens have the advantage with 32%.

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

With the government facing challenges on multiple fronts, it is perhaps unsurprising to see Labour take the lead. Labour will be encouraged that leader Keir Starmer continues to post net positive satisfaction ratings and that the party is seen as less divided and extreme than it was before the last General Election and more fit to govern. However, with the Conservatives still leading Labour on being seen to have the best policies on handling the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s relationship with the EU and managing the economy, it remains to be seen whether Labour’s lead will last, or prove short lived.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,007 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 22nd October – 28th October 2020. Data are weighted to the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.


The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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