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October 10, 2022

Labour voters prefer Keir Starmer to Andy Burnham – and all other leading party figures

An exclusive poll suggests the party leader has Labour voters on his side.

By Ben Walker

Despite Labour’s significant poll lead, Keir Starmer still doesn’t inspire. One in three Britons are yet to properly form a view of him. A recurrent theme among focus groups is the shrug of the shoulders and an “eh?” when asked for a view on the Labour leader. Even the party’s base, those who voted Labour in 2019, have been ambivalent about him. But of all the high-profile Labour figures, he is presently the party’s biggest, and perhaps the only, draw.

According to exclusive polling for the New Statesman by Redfield & Wilton Strategies*, taken in the immediate aftermath of the 2022 Labour Party conference, six in ten of those who backed the party in 2019 have a favourable view of the leader. Just 14 per cent have an unfavourable view.

Compared with Jeremy Corbyn, who led the party these respondents voted for in 2019, you’ll note a marked difference. Just 46 per cent of Labour’s base view the former Labour leader favourably, while 29 per cent do not.

[See also: Keir Starmer is boring but “left-wing like me”, say Labour voters]

Starmer is the only Labour figure polled to pull in a majority of Labour supporters. Andy Burnham, the popular Manchester mayor perpetually perceived to have designs on the leadership, is liked by just 46 per cent of the party’s base. The deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner comes third, liked by 42 per cent. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, is liked by just 26 per cent of Labour voters.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling-up secretary who ran against Starmer to be leader, is also liked by just 26 per cent of people who voted for the party last time. That’s not to say she’s disliked by 74 per cent. Rather, 69 per cent just don’t know what opinion to have on her – either because they don’t know her, or don’t know her enough.

This is a poll of Labour voters, not members. The average Briton spends little time paying attention to the news. The median voter hears news bulletins on the TV or radio every other day, if not once a week. For 63 per cent of Labour voters not to know what to think about David Lammy is not a failure on Lammy's part; it's the reality of the voting public. It is hard to break through.

Starmer’s 62 per cent approval among Labour voters is an improvement on previous months. There have been instances when the pollster Ipsos Mori has found Labour voters near split on what to think of him.

This polling suggests Starmer has the base wrapped up. Now, he has to grow that base to a size that can win him an election.

*Polling of 2,500 voters in Britain who voted Labour in the 2019 general election, carried out on 28-29 September.

[See also: Britain Predicts: who will win the next election?]

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