Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
24 May 2021updated 04 Sep 2021 12:23pm

Why voters aren’t willing to write off Keir Starmer just yet

Exclusive polling for the New Statesman shows that nearly 40 per cent of voters are unable to make a fair judgement on the Labour leader. 

By Ben Walker

More than a year has passed since Keir Starmer became Labour leader and according to exclusive polling for the New Statesman, many voters are still unsure about what it is he and his party stands for.

Almost four in ten (39 per cent) voters told a poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies across Great Britain on 19 May 2021 that they are unfamiliar with what the Labour Party stands for under Starmer’s leadership. Sixty-one per cent, meanwhile, say they are familiar.

While still only a minority of voters, this finding is not encouraging for Labour’s beleaguered leader in the wake of the party’s defeat in the Hartlepool by-election and the loss of 327 seats in the local elections.

[See also: Tony Blair: Without total change Labour will die]

Starmer’s shadow cabinet is also largely unknown by voters, with a majority of voters saying they know nothing about deputy leader Angela Rayner, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, shadow justice secretary David Lammy, and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Voters know nothing of the key figures in Keir Starmer’s cabinet
⚫ – in cabinet; ⚪ – not in cabinet

Name recognition of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper, by contrast, is much healthier.

Content from our partners
The cost-of-living crisis is hitting small businesses – Liz Truss must act
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs

But while the Conservatives’ large poll lead over Labour – as high as 18 points in a new YouGov survey – is troubling for Labour, the key point is that the situation does not yet appear terminal. 

The Redfield & Wilton poll found that not all voters are prepared to write Starmer off. Though 63 per cent say they feel able to make a fair judgement of the Labour leader, 37 per cent, a significant minority, do not. 

Voter certainty about Starmer is lowest in the south east of England, London, the north of England, and the West Midlands – all regions with valuable battleground seats that could determine Labour’s future. Among those who didn’t vote in the 2019 general election – some of whom backed Labour in 2017 – 65 per cent say they do not yet feel able to make a fair judgement of Starmer. 

Among those with an opinion, Starmer polls poorly. But voter uncertainty is high and many are actively unwilling to write him off. All of which means the Labour leader still has an opportunity to persuade them to vote Labour.