Marcus Rashford doing better at holding government to account over Covid than Starmer or media, poll finds

Manchester United forward more effective opposition leader than Labour chief, public say

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 29 January 2021 11:13 GMT
Related video: Marcus Rashford ‘grateful’ to PM for making U-turn on children's food vouchers

More than half of British citizens believe Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is doing a better job of holding the UK government to account over its response to the coronavirus pandemic than either Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer or the national media.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents to a new poll by Ipsos MORI agreed Mr Rashford, known for his off-the-field campaigning efforts to tackle Boris Johnson’s Cabinet on child poverty and free school meals, had done a good job in pressing Westminster to do more.

By contrast, ITV’s Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan and broadcast journalists in general scored 32 per cent and 31 per cent respectively in the survey of 18 to 75-year-olds carried out in the first month of the new year.

Sir Keir, the leader of the opposition, had a 29 per cent favourability rating, with 28 per cent saying he was making a “bad” job of it, compared to just nine per cent who took exception to Mr Rashford’s efforts.

Newspaper reporters fared slightly less well than their TV and radio counterparts, scoring only 25 per cent approval, the same figure as MPs.

By party, Conservative and Labour representatives performed relatively similarly, scoring 24 per cent and 23 per cent respectively when it came to leaving a favourable impression on pushing for change.

However, 44 per cent said Tories should be doing more to challenge their own leadership, whereas only 35 per cent said Labour members of the House of Commons were thought to be doing poorly.

While the prime minister provoked anger earlier this week by saying “we did everything we could” as the British death toll from the pandemic passed the 100,000-mark, with many pointing to his government’s myriad mistakes, delays and policy U-turns, the England forward has become the surprise social justice sensation of the crisis.

(Ipsos MORI)

The 23-year-old has already been awarded an MBE for his work to relieve the nation’s school children from hunger but has not allowed himself to be bought off, warning earlier this month that “something is going wrong” with the delivery of free school meals during lockdown after photos of meagre lunch box supplies went viral, branding the depressing snack options provided by private companies “unacceptable”.

Mr Rashford’s dedication to the issue led Mr Johnson to observe during Prime Minister’s Questions on 13 January that he was proving a far more effective leader of the opposition than Mr Starmer.

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