Written By Philip van Scheltinga

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Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! In this week’s issue of Magnified, we examine how Labour stands to benefit from the Government’s failure to manage the rising cost of living, despite not yet convincing the public that they themselves have the solutions to fix the crisis.

This week, our research also covered:

  • Our latest Westminster polling
  • Britons views of major media outlets

If you would like to find out more about how Redfield & Wilton Strategies can help your organisation succeed through polling and strategic advice, click here.

Westminster Insights

Westminster Voting Intention (25 June):

Labour 44% (-2)
Conservative 26% (–)
Liberal Democrat 13% (+1)
Reform UK 6% (-1)
Green 5% (-1)
Scottish National Party 3% (–)
Other 3% (+2)

Changes +/- 18 June

Combined Net Approval Ratings (25 June):

Keir Starmer: +9% (-3)
Jeremy Hunt: -10% (+1)
Rishi Sunak: -11% (-2)

Changes +/- 18 June

Across all our trackers, the Government’s polling position is dire. In Great Britain as a whole, Labour this week holds an 18-point lead, having last week opened a lead of 20-points for the first time since March.

In the Red Wall, Labour’s lead now stands at 27%, the widest margin they have held over the Conservatives since 19 February and a lead sufficient to win all 40 seats in the Red Wall if it were repeated at a General Election. And in the Blue Wall, our most recent poll showed Labour in a seven-point lead in that traditionally Conservative set of seats, the largest lead for Labour there since 26 March.

Rishi Sunak’s net approval rating has dropped to -16% in the Red Wall, his lowest figure in those seats since 19 March, while also dipping to -11% nationwide. By contrast, Keir Starmer’s approval rating stands at a healthy +9% in Great Britain, while his net approval of +11% in the Red Wall is the highest he has held there since 5 March.

Placing the two party leaders together, Sunak now trails Keir Starmer as the person voters think would be the better Prime Minister by seven points nationally (40% to 33%) and by nine points (41% to 32%) in the Red Wall, another largest lead since 7 February.

Meanwhile, on the three most important issues voters say would determine their vote at the next election—the economy, the NHS, and immigration—the Government’s net approval ratings currently stand at -22%, -29%, and -25%, respectively.

Following the local elections early last month, we said that the polls clearly pointed towards a Labour Party majority. Since then, the polling picture for the Conservatives has only gotten worse…

Chart of the Week

The media landscape in Britain has undergone enormous shifts in recent decades; newspaper circulation has declined, the TV news market has grown more crowded with the recent arrival of GB News and Talk TV, and social media has become the primary source of news for more than a quarter of Britons.

To gauge Britons attitudes towards the media, we asked Britons how favourably or unfavourably they viewed selected media organisations.

Overall, Channel 4 (+26%), ITV (+24%), and Sky News (+22%) have the highest net favourability ratings, while The Sun (-17%), The Mirror (-11%), and The Express (-5%) hold the lowest. 

Intriguingly, likely Conservative voters have a more favourable view of most publications than likely Labour voters. 

In fact, out of 26 organisations named, The Guardian is the only one which has a higher net favourability rating among likely Labour voters (+21%) than it does among likely Conservative voters (+18%).

While likely Conservative voters have a net favourable opinion of 24 of the 26 media organisations listed—The Mirror (-3%) and The Sun (-1%) being the only two outliers—likely Labour voters have a net unfavourable view of 11 of the 26 organisations.

However, overall, British voters’ trust level in the media remains low. 

In our latest Great Britain tracker poll, 36% of Britons place their level of trust in the media at the lowest level of 0 (no trust), compared to just 8% who place their level of trust at the highest level of 3 (complete trust).  

Hire Us: If you are a business, campaign, or research organisation looking to expand your understanding of public opinion, Redfield & Wilton Strategies has the tools to help. Get in touch to find out more.

Long Exposure: In-Depth Analysis

Governments Lose Elections, Oppositions Don’t Win Them

Last week, defying expectations that inflation would fall, the Office of National Statistics found that Consumer Price Index inflation in May remained unchanged from April at 8.7%. Subsequently, the Bank of England announced a further half-point increase in interest rates to 5%, their highest level since 2008. 

The Government has backed the bank’s strategy, even as mortgage borrowers now face further pain, with the costs of both fixed and variable rate deals likely to increase. 

With prices showing no signs of falling and interest rates rising, concern about the rising cost-of-living remains at the forefront of voters’ minds. When asked to name the most important issue facing the UK today, a plurality (44%) of voters name the cost of living, ahead of both the economy generally (13%) and immigration (5%).

At this moment, Labour’s proposals to address the cost of living include commitments to cut VAT on energy bills, a programme to insulate homes to reduce energy costs in the long term, a cut to small business rates, and a rather broad, unspecified commitment to “buy, make, and sell more in Britain to create well-paid, secure jobs in every community.” Rachel Reeves also took to Twitter last week to announce a new ‘Five-point Plan’ to support mortgage holders.

So far, these various proposals have not convinced the public that Labour has the answers to the crisis. This week, just 40% of Britons think a Labour Government, if it were in office now, would be taking the right measures to address the cost-of-living crisis, a number which has never risen above 45% since we started regularly asking this question in May 2022. 37% say a Labour Government would not be taking the right measures, while 23% are undecided.

Earlier this month, when voters were asked if a Government led by Keir Starmer would achieve Rishi Sunak’s stated priority of halving inflation, 46% answered no, including 50% of 2019 Conservative and 43% of 2019 Labour voters, while 36% answered yes.

Nevertheless, despite voters being not wholly convinced by Labour’s ability to provide answers to the cost-of-living crisis now, the party has led the Conservatives as the party most trusted to manage the economy in every poll since 31 July 2022 and has held double-digit leads over the Conservatives in every General Election voting intention poll since last October.

It is this very discrepancy that causes people to doubt if Labour really are heading for a majority at the next election. Sceptics sometimes respond to our voting intention polling results and ask, “Does the public really trust Labour?” And they have a point, as the figures above illustrate.

But they miss the more important fact: A majority of the public has consistently expressed no faith in the current Conservative Government to tackle inflation and the consequent cost-of-living crisis

61% of Britons now say the Government is not taking the right measures to address the cost-of-living crisis. In addition, 54% do not believe Sunak and his Government will achieve his stated priority in January to halve inflation by the end of the year (although, as was pointed out in this email two weeks ago, many Britons seem not to know that this aim actually entails merely slowing the rate at which prices increase).

Given this context, any alternative is preferable to the current Government, even one whose solutions so far appear not completely convincing to much of the public.

Opposition parties do not win elections. Governments lose them. Whether the public thinks Labour has the answers now to solve the cost-of-living crisis matters much less than the fact that, after thirteen years of Conservative Government, the country is suffering such a crisis in the first place.

There is, of course, a philosophical question here as to what exactly the Government can do practically to battle inflation, an argument some Conservative MPs, pointing instead towards the Bank of England, have been eager to make (nevermind that the Government was recently expected to contain a fast-spreading virus for two years).

But Rishi Sunak made himself a hostage to fortune when he identified halving inflation as one of his own policy objectives at the beginning of this year. He has since doubled down even further, stating last month that it is “on me personally” if his objective is not reached.

And since he has set the terms of success or failure for his Government not on ideas to be implemented nor principles to be followed, but merely on a set of outcomes to be achieved, outcomes that are not wholly in his control to begin with, what will Rishi Sunak be able to stand by at the next General Election if the outcomes he wishes for don’t materialise? 

In that increasingly likely situation, the public will vote him and his Government out of office.

R&WS in the Media

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

How Disney’s Popularity Is Faring Amid Ron DeSantis Battle
Newsweek | 28 June 2023

Britain has changed hugely since 2016. This is how the Brexit vote would go now
The Guardian | 23 June 2023

Labour increases lead in crucial ‘Blue Wall’ Tory heartland, poll shows
iNews | 20 June 2023

How do Londoners really feel about Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion plan?
OnLondon | 20 June 2023

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!

Numbers of the Week

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