British Voters think Starmer’s “First Steps” Promise Change, But Worry He Won’t Deliver It

May 24, 2024
R&WS Research Team
GB Politics | GB Public Figures | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | UK Elections | UK Government | UK Politics

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Just over a week ago, Keir Starmer used a campaign launch event in Essex to announce Labour’s six “First steps for change,” which complement the party’s five longer term “national missions” that Starmer set out last year. 

The six “First steps” that Starmer announced are: (1) Deliver economic stability, (2) Cut NHS waiting times, (3) Launch a new Border Security Command, (4) Set up Great British Energy, (5) Crack down on antisocial behaviour, and (6) Recruit 6,500 new teachers.

The first three steps mirror issues that Rishi Sunak listed among his “Five Priorities” last January—namely the economy, the NHS, and immigration—while Starmer’s fourth, fifth, and sixth steps focus on energy/the environment, policing and crime, and education, all issues which feature among the middle tier of voters election priorities.

This week, in the wake of Starmer’s announcement—but before Rishi Sunak called a shock snap General Election—we asked Britons what they think about Starmer’s “First steps for change.”

First, after a week of extensive media coverage, Britons express a reasonable degree of familiarity with the “First steps.” 47% say they heard a ‘significant’ (16%) or ‘fair’ (31%) amount about the announcement, while 26% heard about the announcement ‘not at all.’

When considered collectively, a narrow plurality of Britons think the “First steps” announced by Starmer are unrealistic (46%) rather than realistic (43%).

48% rate the “First steps” as ambitious, against 28% who think they are modest and another 15% who say they are tame.

49% think they are clear and specific, while 41% think they are vague and imprecise.

And 47% think Starmer’s “First steps” are honest, against 28% who think they are dishonest.

34% pick ‘Cut NHS waiting times’ as the most important of the six “First steps” for them, while a similar number of voters pick ‘Deliver economic stability’ (33%).

11% say ‘Launch a new Border Security Command,’ 9% select ‘Set up Great British Energy,’ and fewer than 5% say either ‘Crack down on antisocial behaviour’ (4%) or ‘Recruit 6,500 new teachers’ (2%).

‘Cut NHS wait times’ is the most popular choice among likely Labour voters at the next election (40%), while likely Conservative voters (38%) and undecided voters (36%) are more likely to select ‘Deliver economic stability.’

Likely Reform UK voters, meanwhile, are more likely to choose ‘Launch a new Border Security Command’ (32%).

Asked whether they think Starmer and Labour will be able to achieve his pledges, pluralities of Britons believe he will set up Great British Energy (44%) and launch a new Border Security Command (42%).

However, pluralities do not believe he will be able to achieve any of his other four listed priorities.

A majority of voters (55%) believe Starmer has promised ‘a lot’ of change, against 32% who think he has promised ‘not that much’ change.

73% of likely Labour voters think he has promised ‘a lot’ of change, against only 47% of likely Conservative voters who think the same.

There is also a clear desire for a Starmer-led Labour Government to actually deliver change.

70% of voters say they would prefer ‘a lot of change’ under a Labour Government led by Keir Starmer, against only 13% who would prefer ‘not that much change.’

The pro-change sentiment is spread right across the political spectrum, with even a majority of likely Conservative voters (56%) saying they would prefer ‘a lot of change’ under a Labour Government led by Keir Starmer.

In fact, a clear majority of voters (53%) lean more towards being concerned that Starmer will not change anything than being concerned that he will change everything (26%).

A plurality (42%) think it is more likely that Keir Starmer’s plans for Government are being hidden until after the election. 39% think Starmer’s plans for Government are genuinely what he now says they are.

While a majority of likely Labour voters (69%) are willing to say that they think Starmer’s plans for Government are what he now says they will be, a majority of likely Conservative voters (64%) and a plurality of undecideds (39%) think his plans for Government are being hidden until after the election.

With the General Election now called, and with a short six-week campaign ahead, it remains to be seen how Britons views of Starmer’s policy offering may change under the pressure of Conservative attacks and greater media scrutiny.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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