Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! With reports of the Queen’s declining health, our Magnified email this week will be a brief look at our first polling conducted since Liz Truss became Prime Minister. 

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Westminster Insights

Westminster Voting Intention
(7 September):

Labour 42% (-1)
Conservative 30% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 14% (+2)
Green 6% (–)
Scottish National Party 5% (–)
Reform UK 2% (-1)
Other 2% (+1)

Changes +/- 4 September

All Net Approval Ratings
(7 August):

Liz Truss: -1% (NEW)
Keir Starmer: -3% (+2)

Changes +/- 4 September

In our first poll since Liz Truss became Prime Minister, the Labour Party maintains its 12-point lead over the Conservatives, the joint-highest lead for Labour that we’ve recorded. However, perhaps in part due to a willingness to see how she will fare, Truss has reclaimed a marginal 2% lead in head-to-head polling against Labour Leader Keir Starmer for better PM of the UK.

So far, the majority of voters have yet to make up their mind on their new Prime Minister. 54% of voters say they are neutral or undecided about her performance thus far, suggesting that her opening speech on Tuesday and yesterday’s PMQs have not yet swung the electorate in one direction or another. Her net approval stands at a narrow -1%.

How Liz Truss fares will depend largely on how well she navigates the country through the difficult months ahead. Illustrative of the urgency of the problem, an astonishing 78% of voters say they are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ concerned (as opposed to only ‘somewhat’ or ‘not at all’ concerned) about their ability to pay their energy bills this winter, up from 63% who said so only two weeks ago.

The scale of Government intervention to help alleviate the worst effects of increasing energy prices and how those interventions are to be paid for will be a key dividing line between the Conservatives and Labour. As such, yesterday’s first encounter between Truss and Starmer at Prime Ministers Question’s was instructive, as it illuminated a key ideological difference between the two on tax, building on a similar, previously internal debate within the Government that came to the fore during the Conservative Party’s leadership contest

Starmer’s very first question to Truss concerned her stated opposition to windfall taxes. The Labour leader has made the case in recent weeks that a windfall tax on the “vast excessive profits” of energy companies is necessary to fund his proposed energy price cap freeze. In response, the Prime Minister again affirmed her opposition to a windfall tax, warning such a tax risked “putting companies off investing in the United Kingdom, just when we need to be growing the economy.”

From there, the dividing line was drawn, and the remainder of the session consisted of Starmer attacking “the Tory fantasy of trickle-down economics,” and Truss casting Starmer as a Labour leader of the old school, calling for “the same old, same old tax and spend.” 

In February, we wrote how the Conservatives had lost their historic reputation for lower taxes. At the time, a majority of British voters (53%) had come to most associate the Party with raising rather than lowering taxes (15%). By contrast, 27% in February associated Labour with raising taxes while 24% associated Labour with lowering taxes.

As of two weeks ago, this situation has not dramatically changed despite the Conservative leadership contest’s vigorous debate on taxation. Polling conducted on 24 August found 41% of the public associating the Conservatives with raising taxes while half as many (20%) associated the party with lowering taxes. Meanwhile, 28% on 24 August associated Labour with raising taxes against 23% who associated the party with lowering taxes.

These figures represent, roughly, the starting point for Liz Truss and Keir Starmer ahead of their coming ideological debates over tax policy. We will be watching to see whether and how quickly the public will internalise the differences revealed in yesterday’s PMQs.

Fascinatingly, our polling on 24 August had found that Labour voters, not Conservative voters, were most likely to say that the Government should lower taxes. In recent years, we have consistently found that younger voters especially want lower taxes (and lower spending), which makes it more all the interesting that Starmer is willing to risk being associated with higher taxation.

If Liz Truss is able to successfully lower taxes such that her government would not have to be raising taxes soon thereafter, the Labour Party will be put in a difficult position of having to answer questions regarding whether they themselves would raise taxes. For the time being, however, the public still largely thinks Truss’ party is a party for high taxes. 

Data Tables

R&WS in the Media

Each week we bring you the top stories from the media that have featured our research.

The polling shows Liz Truss has much to do to impress herself on the public
The Telegraph | 5 September 2022

‘Pot, kettle, prat’: are our politicians too ‘out of touch’ to deal with the cost-of-living crisis?
The Week | 2 September 2022

Poll: voters don’t want Boris in Truss’s cabinet
The Spectator | 1 September 2022

Are you a journalist needing a stat for your latest piece? We can be your resource—our polling covers hundreds of issues in multiple countries each week. If you are working on an article on a topical issue, chances are we have already asked the public about it. Get in touch and we’ll share our polling data with you!

Our Research on Social Media

Top 5 Tweets This Week

  1. Labour more trusted than Conservatives by voters in the Red Wall in ALL policy areas. (6 September): (see full tweet)
  2. Highest % to say ‘incompetent.’ Lowest % to say ‘competent.’ Government Competency Rating (4 September): (see full tweet)
  3. Starmer leads Truss by 7% in the Red Wall. At this moment, which of the following individuals do voters think would be the better PM for the United Kingdom? (4 September): (see full tweet)
  4. The Conservative Party is more trusted than Labour on the coronavirus crisis (30% to 28%) and foreign affairs (30% to 29%). (28 August): (see full tweet)
  5. Boris Johnson Final Approval Rating (4 September): (see full tweet)

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