Keir Starmer reverses Jeremy Corbyn’s negative popularity ratings in first major poll since becoming Labour leader

New Labour leader enjoys positive satisfaction ratings, but many voters yet to make up their minds on him

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Saturday 11 April 2020 14:04
Keir Starmer addresses Labour leadership win

Keir Starmer has reversed the negative ratings of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn in the first major survey of his public popularity since he became Labour leader last weekend.

But there was little sign in the BMG survey for The Independent of Sir Keir making immediate inroads into Boris Johnson’s electoral lead, with the Tories maintaining the overwhelming 17-point advantage which they enjoyed in the company’s final poll of the Corbyn era.

And the poll indicated that Sir Keir has work to do to make an impression on the public, with more than half – 59 per cent – saying they had so far formed no opinion on his performance.

By the final month of his four and a half years at Labour’s helm, two-time election loser Mr Corbyn had plumbed previously uncharted depths in the polls, with 77 per cent of voters who expressed an opinion telling BMG in March that they were dissatisfied with his performance against just 23 per cent who were satisfied – an overall rating of minus-54.

Sir Keir’s ratings were almost exactly the opposite in the BMG poll conducted in the days after he was elected leader on 4 April.

Of those expressing a view, some 75 per cent said they were satisfied with him with 25 per cent dissatisfied – an overall margin of plus-50.

When “don’t knows” and “no opinions” are taken into account, however, the picture was less rosy for the new Labour leader, with the 31 per cent who were satisfied easily outnumbering the 10 per cent dissatisfied, but both tallies far overshadowed by the 59 per cent who have not made their minds up.

The poll was taken in the immediate aftermath of a shadow cabinet reshuffle in which some of the totemic left-wing figures of the Corbyn team like John McDonnell and Diane Abbott were replaced by faces from the party’s centrist wing like David Lammy, Rachel Reeves and Ian Murray.

On voting intention, Mr Johnson’s Tories remained comfortably in the lead with 46 per cent (up one point since March) against Labour’s 29 per cent (up one), when don’t knows are excluded. Liberal Democrats were down a point on 10 per cent with Greens on 6 and the Brexit Party on 2.

Labour voters showed strong approval of Sir Keir’s leadership, with 49 per cent satisfied, against just 7 per cent who were not. But he also enjoyed a positive satisfaction rating among Tory and Lib Dem voters.

Keir Starmer defeated Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey in the race for the Labour leadership

And crucially, his arrival appeared to be welcomed by the key sector of voters who did not vote in the 2019 election – believed to include many traditional Labour supporters turned off by Mr Corbyn. Some 22 per cent of non-voters voiced satisfaction at Sir Keir’s leadership, against 9 per cent who were dissatisfied.

Strongest support for the new Labour leader was found in his native London (33 per cent satisfied against 11 per cent dissatisfied) and the West Midlands (39-11). But he appeared to have made less of a breakthrough in the northeast, where the margin of satisfaction was just 21-14, and Scotland (26-7).

He enjoyed his strongest approval among the 18- to 24-year-old age group (36 per cent satisfied, 11 per cent dissatisfied). And his satisfaction rating was higher among the middle and upper class ABC1 social categories (35 per cent) and university graduates (37 per cent) than the working and lower middle class C2DE group (25 per cent) and those with no educational qualifications (20 per cent).

BMG questioned 1,541 British adults between 7 and 9 April

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