Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest voting intention poll of 3,000 eligible voters in Great Britain finds the Labour Party leading the Conservative Party by 2%. Significantly, this occasion is the first that Labour is in the lead in the 27 polls we have conducted since February 2020. The full numbers (with changes from 21 October in parentheses) are as follows:
Labour 41% (+1)
Conservative 39% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 7% (–)
Scottish National Party 4% (-1)
Green 4% (–)
Plaid Cymru 0% (–)
Other 4% (–)
In the version of our results that does not exclude those who say that they don’t know who they would vote for, the proportion of those who answered “don’t know” has increased by 1% and now stands at 16%. In this iteration of our results, 34% of respondents say they will vote for the Labour Party, and 33% think they will vote for the Conservatives. A significant minority (17%) of 2019 Conservative voters now say they don’t know how they will vote in the next election, compared to just 4% of 2019 Labour voters. Moreover, just 71% of those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 say they would vote for the party next time (a decline of 4 points compared to last week), while 89% of 2019 Labour voters say they would vote for Labour again in the next General Election.
At this stage, 41% of respondents lean towards thinking that the current Government is incompetent (2% lower than a week ago), while 24% consider their that the Government is competent (the same proportion as last week). Therefore, the Government’s Net Competency Rating stands at -17%, which represents a slight improvement from last week.
The Government’s strongly negative Net Competency Rating is directly linked to the public’s perception of how the Government has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Our latest poll continues to show that a significant proportion of the public believe that Boris Johnson (and the UK Government in general) have failed in a wide range of aspects of their response to coronavirus.
In particular, 68% say that Boris Johnson and the UK Government have failed to establish an effective test and trace system, while 58% believe the Government and the Prime Minister have failed to keep the country together in spirit. Furthermore, clear pluralities (45-47%) consider that Government has failed to expand testing capacity, protect jobs at risk from the pandemic, provide the NHS with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment, determine the right level of coronavirus restrictions in local areas, and effectively shelter vulnerable populations. The public remain equally divided on whether the Government has succeeded or failed at protecting the NHS and supporting the economy, yet almost half (49%) say the Government and Boris Johnson have succeeded in keeping the public informed of the latest measures and health advice, suggesting that communications are currently perceived as the area of crisis management that the Government has handled relatively better.
For the sixth consecutive week, the Prime Minister’s net approval rating is below zero. Currently, 42% disapprove of Boris Johnson’s job performance since he became Prime Minister, whereas 35% approve, giving him a net approval rating of -7%. Despite continuing to be in the red numbers, the Prime Minister’s approval rating did improve by 3% since last week.
Meanwhile, Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating has remained at +9%. Around a third (34%) continue to neither approve nor disapprove of the performance of the Labour Leader, including 35% of 2019 Conservative voters and 30% of 2019 Labour voters, which is indicative of the public’s lack of familiarity with Keir Starmer. Overall, 35% approve of the Leader of the Opposition’s performance, while 26% disapprove.
Amid increasing pressures on the economy, and with thousands of jobs expected to be lost when the furlough scheme ends this week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak continues to hold high approval ratings. Currently, 49% approve of the Chancellor’s job performance, while 20% disapprove, leaving him with an overall approval rating of +29% (1% lower than last week). However, this occasion is the first that Sunak cannot command the approval of the majority of respondents (albeit 49% still represents a strong plurality of support).
For the second successive poll, Rishi Sunak is currently ahead of Boris Johnson when voters are asked which individual would be the best Prime Minister for the United Kingdom. At this stage, 34% would prefer Rishi Sunak, while 33% would prefer the Prime Minister, although this difference is within the margin of error of the poll.
Rishi Sunak’s lead over Keir Starmer is greater (8%) than the lead the incumbent Prime Minister holds over the Labour leader. At this stage, 39% believe the Chancellor would be the best Prime Minister for the UK at this moment, while only 31% would choose Keir Starmer.
Boris Johnson’s straight contest lead over Keir Starmer remains at 5% this week. 39% think Boris Johnson would be the better Prime Minister for the UK at this moment, while 34% think Keir Starmer would be.
Despite his significantly lower approval ratings, the Prime Minister holds a lead over Keir Starmer in regard to which party leader embodies several key characteristics. By contrast to last week, a plurality now believe that Boris Johnson is the party leader who can best bring British people together (37%). Moreover, slight pluralities consider that the Prime Minister is a strong leader (36%), knows how to get things done (38%), can work with foreign leaders (39%), and will tackle the coronavirus pandemic (31%). The incumbent Prime Minister holds wider leads over Keir Starmer in regard to who the British public think can build a strong economy (41%), stand up for the interests of the United Kingdom (41%), and be tough on China (32%).
Meanwhile, a greater proportion of respondents think the Labour Leader better embodies the characteristics of someone who cares about people like them (35%), tells the truth (30%), represents change (38%), is in good physical and mental health (42%), and is willing to work with other parties when possible (36%). The British public is evenly split over which leader best understands the problems afflicting the United Kingdom.
Altogether, Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest poll marks a significant milestone for the Labour Party. For the first time in eight months of tracking voting intention, the party of opposition holds a lead over the party of Government. However, while Labour is ahead of the Conservative Party, a plurality would favour the Prime Minister Boris Johnson or the Chancellor Rishi Sunak over Keir Starmer as Prime Minister. Furthermore, the Prime Minister remains trusted over Keir Starmer on several key metrics—including who can bring the country together, a characteristic which is likely to be particularly important as the country enters a difficult and volatile winter.