Most voters no more likely to back Labour under Starmer, poll finds

Though nearly a third of voters are more receptive to voting Labour under its new leader, he sharply divides opinion.

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Nearly a third of voters say they are now more likely to vote for Labour under Keir Starmer than under Jeremy Corbyn, new polling has found.

One in five voters (21 per cent) who backed the Conservatives at the last general election would be more inclined to vote for Starmer, as well as 45 per cent of those who backed the Liberal Democrats, according to exclusive new polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for the New Statesman.

The findings suggest the electorate is broadly receptive to the new Labour leader – but also indicate potential trouble ahead for his standing among several key demographics.

The Holborn and St Pancras MP already enjoys strong name recognition. Seventy-seven per cent of all voters have heard of Starmer, though nearly half (48 per cent) of 18 to 24 year olds have not, as well as 38 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds.

For a majority of voters (52 per cent), Starmer’s ascension to the leadership is not itself a vote mover. For a significant minority, however, his previous support for a second referendum is likely to influence their willingness to support Labour under his leadership.

More than half (52 per cent) of 2019 Conservative voters said his support for a fresh referendum meant they were less likely to vote for Labour at a general election, as did three in ten (29 per cent) of voters of all parties. Fifty-three per cent of Leave voters took the same view. Remainers, perhaps unsurprisingly, disagreed. Fifty-three per cent of those who voted to stay in the EU in 2016 said Starmer’s past stance on Brexit made them more likely to vote Labour, as did 58 per cent of those who backed the Liberal Democrats in 2019.

The findings do suggest that Starmer would be best served directing his energies towards policies beyond Brexit, however. While 44 per cent believe the transition period should be extended beyond December 2020, a clear majority of 60 per cent believe he should not advocate for an extension and instead focus on issues other than the EU.

There is, however, a pronounced divide between Conservative voters and Leavers – 80 per cent and 77 per cent of whom respectively believe Starmer should not advocate for an extension or focus on Brexit – and Labour voters and Remainers, of whom only 46 per cent and 47 per cent respectively believe the same.

Ed Miliband’s appointment to the shadow cabinet, meanwhile, has divided opinion. While 52 per cent say they are no more or less likely to vote Labour because of its former leader’s return to the front bench, 36 per cent of 2019 Conservative voters say they are less likely to do so. Thirty per cent of 2019 Liberal Democrats said it made them more likely to vote Labour.

The controversy over Labour’s continued failure to elect a woman leader does not appear to have damaged Starmer’s standing among the electorate, meanwhile. Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of voters said they neither agreed nor disagreed that Corbyn’s successor ought to have been a woman.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies, a member of the British Polling Council, surveyed a representative sample of 1,500 adults in Great Britain online on 8 April.​

Patrick Maguire was political correspondent at the New Statesman.

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