Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! This week, as Ukraine’s summer offensive appears to have stalled and tensions with her western allies’ leak into public view, we examine recent polling from Britain and America on voters’ attitudes to the war in Ukraine.

This week, our research also covered:

  • Our latest Westminster polling
  • The new 20mph speed limit in Wales
  • Britons’ increasing nervousness about artificial intelligence

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 (17 September):

Labour 44% (-1)
Conservative 26% (+1)
Liberal Democrat 14% (+2)
Reform UK 6% (–)
Green 6% (–)
Scottish National Party 3% (-1)
Other 1% (–)

Changes +/- 10 September

Combined Net Approval Ratings (17 September):

Keir Starmer: +8% (-7)
Rishi Sunak: -21% (-9)

Changes +/- 3 September

While Rishi Sunak went to Devon last week, Keir Starmer ventured further afield.

On Thursday, Starmer was at Europol’s headquarters in the Hague, touting Labour’s (unpublished) plan to “smash the criminal smuggling gangs.” Over the weekend, he rubbed shoulders with centre-left leaders in Montreal, including Justin Trudeau. And earlier this week, he was in Paris, meeting French business figures before an audience with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Altogether, Keir Starmer’s recent travels speaks to a confidence in the Labour Party that they will win the next election. Indeed, they stand 18% ahead in our latest Westminster Voting Intention poll. 

Meanwhile, the outlook for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak continues to be relentlessly dire. His latest approval rating (-21%) is the second lowest he has recorded since he became Prime Minister and he trails Starmer in their personal head-to-head as the person British voters think would be the better Prime Minister by 11 points (42% vs 31%).

Moreover, Sunak is failing on all five of the key policy tests he set for himself and his Government in January. 

Only 7% of voters think he has made a significant amount of progress towards achieving those goals collectively, while majorities say he has made no progress at all towards cutting NHS waiting lists (56%) or stopping small boats crossing the Channel (51%).

Unable to offer any tangible progress on his key priorities, Sunak instead lurches from policy to policy in the hope of finding something (anything) that will register with the public. 

This week, Sunak announced a plan to roll back some of the Government’s green policies that were introduced to meet Britain’s net zero commitments. This is a strategy that is doomed to failure for reasons we discussed in our previous Magnified email: 

(1) They are rolling back and countering their own previous policies, not Labour’s. After some thought, Keir Starmer could simply say, “I agree with most of these changes.” And then what?

(2) This alternative path again primarily represents a do-nothing approach, in most cases merely delaying deadlines or refusing to enact proposed policies.

Sunak said that yesterday’s announcement would be the first of several more longer term oriented policy changes. He will need to show far more boldness than he did yesterday.

Welsh Voters Support New Speed Limit

This week, the Welsh Government introduced a new 20mph speed limit in residential areas, making Wales “the first nation in the UK to introduce legislation to have a default 20mph speed limit on roads where cars mix with pedestrians and cyclists.”

The change has aroused vocal opposition, with the Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies claiming that the move will cost the Welsh economy up to £9 billion.

However, our latest Welsh monthly political tracker poll (conducted over the weekend that the measure became law) finds 46% of Welsh voters support the new speed limit, against 34% who oppose the change. Among 2019 Conservative voters in Wales, a plurality of 43% also support the new speed limit.

Chart of the Week

Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) hold the potential to revolutionise almost every human activity, from the mundane (such as how students write papers and police detect traffic offences) to the most serious (such as how wars are fought).

Rising anxieties about developments in AI have led even some leading advocates of the technology, including Elon Musk, to call for a moratorium on further AI research.

Now, a majority of Britons (52%) say they are more nervous than excited about the potential for developments in artificial intelligence technology to change their life in the next five years. Less than half as many (23%) say they are more excited than nervous about developments in the technology.

This latest result represents a marked darkening of the public mood on AI since April, when 42% were more nervous than excited and 29% were more excited than nervous about the potential for developments in AI technology to change their life in the next five years.

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

Britons and Americans Increasingly Wary of Ukraine War

These are difficult days for Ukraine.

Kyiv’s summer offensive has bogged down. Despite the recent capture of several villages, the Ukrainian armed forces appear to be no closer to cutting off Crimea or making further advances into occupied Luhansk or Donetsk. The likelihood of a major breakthrough before the autumn rain turns eastern Ukraine to mud now appears slim.

Amid the stalling offensive, tensions between Ukraine and her supporters have broken into public view. 

A leaked German military assessment in June bluntly stated that “deficiencies” in Ukrainian military leadership and training were causing commanders in the field to make “wrong and dangerous decisions.” 

Former UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also criticised Ukraine (in remarks he later walked back) for expressing insufficient gratitude to its western allies for the support given to the country, telling Sky News that he had warned the Ukrainians, “I am not Amazon.”

President Zelensky, meanwhile, criticised the lack of a timetable for Ukraine’s membership of NATO as “absurd” at the organisation’s Vilnius summit in July, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba publicly scolded his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock for refusing to commit to sending Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine, saying, “You will do it anyway… I don’t understand why we are wasting time.”

All of these caustic remarks have served to create an impression that, eighteen months into Russia’s full-scale invasion, divisions between Ukraine and her western allies are growing.

Now, recent polling in Britain and the United States point to signs of incipient ‘Ukraine fatigue’ among electorates in both countries.

To be sure, voters in Britain continue to broadly support the UK Government’s approach to the conflict. 41% in our latest poll say they approve of the Government’s response to Russia’s invasion against only 11% who oppose it, but approval is now at its lowest point since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Critically, in light of the lack of clear progress on the battlefield, doubts about Ukraine’s ability to win the war are growing.

For the first time since the war began, more Britons now think Russia is more likely to win the war than Ukraine, though it is worth adding the caveat that a plurality (42%) are still uncertain as to the likely outcome of the conflict.

In addition, more Britons now believe a longer conflict favours Russia than Ukraine.

37% say a longer war is now more to Russia’s advantage, against 33% who think it favours Ukraine. This latest figure marks a reversal of the situation in March, when 39% thought a longer conflict favoured Ukraine and 30% thought it favoured Russia.

As they have been since the beginning of the war, British voters are willing to take on costs to support Ukrainians but also do not understand why or how their country and their allies had fallen into a situation where they had become dependent on Russian energy (a key reason why Boris Johnson’s persistent plea, “We are paying higher energy bills. Ukraine is paying in lives” failed to save him).

While a plurality of 40% of British voters still agree that they are willing to pay higher fuel prices if it helps save Ukraine (a number that has held steady since April last year), 49% also agree that they should not have to pay higher fuel prices in order to help Ukraine.

Across the pond, Americans are already highly polarised in their views on Ukraine, unable even to agree on the fundamental question of whether or not the defence of Ukraine is vital to America’s national interest. 

While 61% of Biden 2020 voters agree that it is, only 33% of Trump voters feel the same way, with 34% of this group of voters disagreeing.

American’s also hold divergent views on the appropriateness of current and future levels of US support for Ukraine.

While 42% of Biden 2020 voters believe the US has provided the right amount of support so far to Ukraine, 46% of Trump 2020 voters believe the US has provided too much support to the country.

When asked about future US arms supplies to Ukraine, responses are even more sharply divided.

Although 51% of Biden 2020 voters think the US should maintain support for Ukraine until it wins the war, that same view is shared by only 22% of Trump voters at the last election. 

Among Trump voters, 45% believe the United States should reconsider its levels of support as the war continues, while more than one-fifth (21%) think support should be cut off right now.

Taken together, therefore, political developments next year, when elections are due to be held in the United Kingdom, in the United States, and for the European Parliament, could create an environment that is far less open to providing military and financial support to Ukraine than has been the case thus far.

Back in April, anticipating Ukraine’s summer offensive, we wrote:

“Some evidence of military success will be crucial to sustain the solidarity shown by the American and British publics with Ukraine and to keep the aid provided by the US and British Governments flowing.”

With the war in stalemate, and political storm clouds gathering in many allied capitals, Ukraine cannot rely on western support indefinitely. Tangible signs of progress—genuine progress—on the battlefield are a must if Ukraine is to sustain the broad and generous support it has enjoyed to this point.

R&WS in the Media

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

Brits are concerned about the growing influence of China, with most viewing country as more of a threat than an ally
The Daily Mail | 17 September 2023

EXCLUSIVE: Voters demand Rishi Sunak abandons plan to snatch cash from everyone on Universal Credit
The Mirror | 15 September 2023

Most Americans dislike Meghan, fonder of Harry: POLL
Toronto Sun | 11 September 2023

Older Voters Back Mental Tests for Aging Politicians
Newsweek | 11 September 2023

Jeremy Corbyn could win London mayor race — for the Conservatives
The Times | 8 September 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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