Savanta ComRes Political Tracker

Chris Hopkins, Associate Director

The last ten years have proven an unprecedently turbulent time in UK politics

We’ve had four General Elections, of which two resulted in hung parliaments, as well as two nationwide referendums, and countless more regional elections as devolution and the decentralisation of power away from Westminster and into the hands of voters has continued to yield unexpected results.

Understanding public opinion, and not just around election time, is proving increasingly important for policy makers, influencers, media commentators and business leaders alike, and as we enter a period in UK politics we’ve not seen in recent memory, that of a government with a healthy majority, public attitudes are no less significant.

At Savanta ComRes our in-house political research specialists are well equipped to help our clients understand public opinion within a constantly evolving political context, and our Savanta ComRes Political Tracker provides strategic insight into the dynamic political landscape in the UK.

The first poll in our new monthly series gives the Conservative Party a healthy 13-point lead over the Labour Party.

The poll has the Conservative Party on 46%, two points more than they achieved at the 2019 General Election, while the Labour Party are on 33%, the leaderless Liberal Democrats are on 7% and other parties, including the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Northern Irish parties, on a combined 13%.

You can download the full dataset here

Favourability ratings

Our new tracking series also includes favourability ratings and a number of metrics pitching the leaders of the two main parties, Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer, against each other.

The state of play shows much ground for the new Labour leader to make up; his favourability, although positive (+1%), is 14 points lower than that of Boris Johnson, and is lower than all current holders of the Great Offices of State, besides Priti Patel. Rishi Sunak, among all politicians tested, has the highest favourability rating (+29%).

Leaders and their policies

It is clear that Starmer has work to do. When the public are asked whether they like the leaders, their policies and their parties, almost twice as many people say “I like both the leader and their policies” for Boris Johnson compared to Sir Keir Starmer; however, he does have fewer people saying that they “dislike both the leader and their policies” than the current PM.

Leaders and their parties

The differences are less stark when it comes to the leader and their party, but it is clear that Starmer needs time to build a policy platform and improve the image of his party before the public are going to warm to him.

Party characteristics

Party image, in particular, is something that the new Labour leader will need to address.

The public are twice as likely to say that they can trust the Conservatives with the economy, are one and a half times more likely to say that the Conservatives understand the issues facing the country and — despite Labour claiming to be the party of public services — the public are almost as likely to trust the Conservatives with the NHS and schools as they are Labour. Further, Labour are almost twice as likely to be seen as divided compared to the Conservative Party, and it’s clear that Starmer will need to address these continued perceptions of disunity and economic incompetence if he’s to be a success.

Leader characteristics

Personally, Starmer scores similarly to Johnson when it comes to a variety of leadership characteristics, besides charisma, only one in ten (11%) of the public view him as being charismatic, compared to almost a third (31%) for the PM. While the importance of charisma can be debated, it is clear that Boris Johnson currently has a certain appeal that Starmer lacks.

However, it is clear things are on the up for Labour and Starmer, based on the regard the public hold for him compared to his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. The public think Starmer is better than Corbyn on all metrics tested, including “Uniting the Labour Party”, “Holding the government to account” and “Representing Labour members/voters”. While Corbyn was a divisive figure throughout his leadership, culminating in a disappointing election defeat in December, the magnitude of that defeat will mean it may take more than just Starmer being inoffensive to get Labour back into government.

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