One of the critical questions for the next General Election in the United Kingdom will be whether the Conservative Party can hold onto the mostly northern, traditionally Labour voting constituencies that they won in 2019—often described, if somewhat inaccurately, as the Red Wall.1 Accordingly, we at Redfield and Wilton Strategies have taken up the challenge of regularly polling this cluster of politically salient constituencies.
In the forty ‘Red Wall’ seats that we poll, the Conservatives won all in 2019 but Hartlepool (which was won in a subsequent parliamentary by-election) with 46.7% of the vote to Labour’s 37.9%. Reform UK, previously known as the Brexit Party, came third in these seats with 6.5% of the vote.
Our first Red Wall poll of 2023 finds Labour leading the Conservatives by 22%, one point less than in our previous poll conducted on 21-22 November. Altogether, the results of our poll (with changes from 21-22 November) are as follows:
Labour 51% (-2)
Conservative 29% (-1)
Reform UK 9% (+4)
Liberal Democrat 5% (-1)
Green 3% (–)
Plaid Cymru 1% (–)
Other 1% (–)
When those who say they do not know how they would vote in a General Election are included, the Labour Party leads by 20%. After weighting by likelihood to vote, 12% of the sample says they do not know how they would vote, including 15% of those who voted Conservative in December 2019 and 3% of those who voted Labour.
Altogether, 90% of those who voted Labour in 2019 say they would vote Labour again, while 55% of those who voted Conservative say they would vote Conservative again.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating in the Red Wall registers at -19% (-13). 26% (-5) of those in the Red Wall, including 42% (-6) of 2019 Conservative voters, say they approve of Sunak’s performance. 45% (+8) of respondents disapprove.
37% (-4) approve and 30% (+4) disapprove of Keir Starmer’s job performance since he became Leader of the Labour Party, giving him a net approval rating of +7%, eight points lower than in our previous poll in late November.
When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, Starmer (42%, +2) leads Sunak (32%, -4) by ten points. 26% (+2) say they don’t know.
On policy delivery, respondents in the Red Wall are most likely to say they significantly (15%) or fairly (28%) trust the Conservative Party to deliver on the coronavirus pandemic. 37% also significantly or fairly trust the party to deliver on national security and defence.
By comparison, majorities of respondents say they do not at all trust the Conservatives to deliver on the NHS (55%), ‘Levelling Up’ (54%), and immigration (53%).
With regard to the Labour Party, respondents are most likely to say they significantly (21%) or fairly (30%) trust Labour to deliver on the NHS. 49% of Red Wall voters also say they significantly or fairly trust Labour on education and benefits.
On the flipside, Labour is most likely to be not at all trusted on the economy (38%) and on immigration (36%).
When the two parties are pitted against each other on the issues, Labour are more frequently trusted than the Conservatives on every policy issue listed except to respond to the crisis in Ukraine (Conservatives 31% vs Labour 28%).
Labour holds leads of 25 points or more over the Conservatives when voters are asked who they trust most to support the NHS (43% to 17%), to tackle poverty (42% to 17%), and to invest in ‘left behind’ areas (40% to 15%).
Labour is also more trusted by Red Wall voters to manage the economy (35% to 25%).
On the cost-of-living crisis, 67% of members of the Red Wall public say no, the Government is not taking the right measures to address this crisis. This figure is up five points from the 62% who answered no to the same question in our previous Red Wall poll.
Finally, 65% of Red Wall voters say no, they do not feel like the Government has been making a clear effort to ‘level up’ the area in which they live.
1 Prior to the 2019 General Election, the term ‘Red Wall’ originally pertained to a broader set of adjacent Labour-voting constituencies whose profile made them susceptible to being won by the Conservatives’ pro-Brexit platform. However, many of these constituencies were not ultimately won by the Conservative Party in 2019. Since then, the term ‘Red Wall’ has, in the media and elsewhere, interchangeably referred to both its original, broader definition and the traditionally Labour constituencies that the Conservatives won. For the purpose of this tracker polling, we refer to the post-2019 GE definition.
A full list of the constituencies polled can be found in the data tables.