Keir Starmer leads Boris Johnson on ‘most capable PM’ by 13 points

First time a Labour leader has led on this measure since Gordon Brown led David Cameron in 2008

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs
Get in touch
  • Boris Johnson satisfaction ratings are his worst as PM
  • Labour lead Conservatives by 5 points in voter preference (39% vs 34%)

Ipsos MORI’s latest Political Monitor, taken 3 – 10 December (before, during and after the so-called ‘partygate’ story broke) shows Keir Starmer leading Boris Johnson by 13 points on who would make the most capable Prime Minister.

Most capable Prime Minister

When asked who would make the most capable PM. 44% of Britons choose Keir Starmer (+6 from Sept), 31% choose Boris Johnson (-7 points).

This is the lowest proportion of Britons choosing Johnson since he became PM and the first time a Labour leader has been ahead on this measure with Ipsos MORI since Gordon Brown led David Cameron in Jan 2008.

Most capable

Leadership Satisfaction

Satisfaction with Boris Johnson’s performance as Prime Minister has fallen to the lowest level since he became Prime Minister.

  • 28% are satisfied with the job Mr Johnson is doing (-6 points from November) and 65% are dissatisfied (+4 points). His net score on this measure of -37 has fallen 10 points from November and is the worst he has recorded as PM.
  • Boris Johnson still retains solid support amongst Conservative voters but discontent is brewing. 67% of Conservative voters are satisfied with the job he is doing and 28% are dissatisfied. As late as August this year these figures were 78% and 15% respectively.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer’s satisfaction ratings as Labour leader are largely unchanged.

  • 28% are satisfied with Mr Starmer’s performance as Labour leader (-1 point from Nov) and 49% are dissatisfied (-1). His net score of -21 is unchanged month on month. At this point in their leadership, recent Labour leaders Jeremy Corbyn was on -27 and Ed Miliband -13. Mr Corbyn would register -49 ahead of the 2019 General Election and Mr Miliband -19 ahead of the 2015 election.
  • Keir Starmer still divides opinion with Labour voters. 44 satisfied and 40% dissatisfied.

Leadership attributes

When asked whether or not a series of leadership attributes apply to Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer, the Labour leader leads Mr Johnson on 8 out of 11. In June, when we last asked this question, he led on only 3.

  • Since June, Keir Starmer has improved by 5 points or more on capable leader (+7), good in a crisis (+5), sound judgement (+12), understands the problems facing Britain (+9), out of touch (-8), gives me confidence about Britain’s future (+7), patriotic (+7), more honest than most politicians (+7) and good representative for Britain on the world stage (+9).
  • Meanwhile Boris Johnson has fallen by 5 points or more on capable leader (-14), good in a crisis (-9), sound judgement (-10), understands problems facing Britain (-9), out of touch (+7), gives me confidence about Britain’s future (-17), good representative for Britain on the world stage (-15).

Attributes

Voting intention

In terms of voter preferences, Labour now lead the Conservatives by 5 points. It is important to note here that fieldwork took place between Dec 3rd and 10th and so the Christmas Party story broke during the interview period.

Lab 39% (+3)

Con 34% (-1)

Lib Dem 11% (+2)

Green 7% (-4)

(Changes from Nov 2021)

Gideon Skinner, Head of Politics at Ipsos MORI, says of the findings:

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives are feeling the chill. Of course it is still only mid-term and things can change, but people told us they cared about the Downing St Xmas party, and the last few weeks have all added up to the Prime Minister’s personal brand taking a hit. While the Conservatives’ ratings had been on a downward trend even before this, what stands out in this poll are the drops in the Prime Minister’s personal ratings to his lowest as PM, while on detailed attributes like giving people confidence in Britain’s future his scores have halved. Keir Starmer, meanwhile, passes a landmark as the first Labour leader to lead on “most capable Prime Minister” since Gordon Brown in 2008, helped by rises in key factors like understanding Britain’s problems and being a capable leader. However there is room for further improvement, and he still faces his own problems – notably uniting his own supporters behind him, where despite everything Boris Johnson still gets more backing from his own base.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,005 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone: 3rd to 10th December 2021. Data are weighted to match 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. This is especially important to keep in mind when calculating party lead figures.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs

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