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Snap Starmer Harassment Poll

Seven in ten say Boris Johnson responsible for protesters harassing Keir Starmer – Snap Poll from Savanta ComRes

• Seven in ten (69%) say the PM is responsible for the behaviour of protestors that harassed Keir Starmer, including 54% of 2019 Conservative voters
• Two thirds (68%) say that the PM should publicly apologise to Starmer for his comments in the House of Commons relating to Starmer failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile; 68% say he should withdraw PMQs comments
• Two thirds (64%) say politics has gotten nastier in the last five years
• A third (36%) say it is unsafe for politicians in the UK to go about their work

Seven in ten (69%) say that the Prime Minister’s comments relating to Keir Starmer failing to prosecute child abuser Jimmy Savile are responsible for the behaviour of protesters who harassed the Leader of the Opposition yesterday (7 February), according to a new snap poll by Savanta ComRes.

The figure includes a quarter (27%) who say that the Prime Minister’s comments are completely responsible for the protester’s behaviour, while 42% say that his comments are somewhat responsible for the harassment. A quarter (26%) say that the Prime Minister is not responsible for the behaviour of the individuals, whose hounding of Starmer and his Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy led to them both being escorted away in a police car.

In the wake of many Conservative MPs calling for the Prime Minister to apologise and retract the comments he made during PMQs that, during his time as Director of Public Prosecutions, Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile, the poll finds that 71% say the PM should condemn the behaviour of the protesters – which he has already done – while 68% say he should go further and both apologise publicly to Starmer and withdraw his comments officially in the House of Commons.

And while recency bias is likely to have had some effect, the poll also shows that 57% of Brits say that Boris Johnson is the most likely Prime Minister to make false claims about opposition leaders in the House of Commons, considerably more than those who say Tony Blair (11%). All other ex-Prime Ministers, from Thatcher to May, only had between 1-3% of the public saying they were most likely to make false claims about opposition leaders in the House of Commons.

With this incident raising some concerns about the safety of MPs going about their jobs, the poll finds that two thirds (64%) say that politics has gotten nastier than it was five years ago, while a sizable proportion (36%) say that it is generally unsafe for politicians in the UK to go about their work.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes says,

“The Prime Minister’s comments at PMQs have been widely condemned and it is the view of the public that such comments directly lead to the unsavoury behaviour Starmer and David Lammy had to experience yesterday, with 69% saying that Boris Johnson is responsible for the harassment the Leader of the Opposition faced. The public also hold the view that politics has gotten nastier in the last five years, and given the tragic circumstances in which a Member of Parliament lost their life last year, the condemnation from the public and his own party that Boris Johnson is facing seems entirely justified.”

Date Published: 08/02/2022

Methodology

Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,094 UK adults aged 18+ online on 8 February 2022. Data were weighted to be representative of all UK adults by age, sex, region and SEG. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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