Sunak and Starmer Monthly Polling Report Card (April 2023)

May 2, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Conservative Party | GB Politics | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | Rishi Sunak | UK Elections | Voting Intention

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After a good month of polling in March, April has been another encouraging month for the Conservatives, with Labour’s lead narrowing across all three of our tracker polls and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s own personal approval rating continuing to trend upwards. However, Labour’s overall position remains strong, with formidable leads in national voting intention polling and on the major issues of the NHS, the economy, and immigration. Meanwhile, English local elections this week look likely to deliver a difficult night for the Conservatives.

Nationally, Labour’s lead in our final April poll was 17%, two points less than in the last poll of March. In one poll, however, Labour’s lead had been cut to just 12%, the narrowest lead Labour had held over the Conservatives nationwide since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister in October. Altogether, Labour’s national lead averaged 15% this month.

Labour’s lead has also narrowed in the Blue Wall, falling six points in a month to now stand at 2%, the smallest margin the party has held over the Conservatives in these seats since we started our Blue Wall tracker in October, in part due to a favourable result for the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, in the traditionally Labour-supporting Red Wall, Labour ends April with a sizeable 18% lead, up two points from March, putting the seats of many Conservative MPs who won here in 2019 in danger. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating is up across all three tracker polls, with dramatic rises in both the Red and Blue Walls. In the Red Wall, his personal approval rating has jumped 12 points since late March to now stand at -9%. His rating of -7% in these seats a fortnight ago was his highest rating in the Red Wall since November 2022. 

It is a similar story in the Blue Wall, where his rating of +7% (a 10-point increase from late March) is also his highest since late November. Nationally, Sunak ends April with a rating of -5%, three points higher than late March and his highest rating nationally since 3 January (when it was -4%.)

Across the two sets of heartland seats, there is no consensus on the question of which of Sunak or Starmer would be the better Prime Minister. While Sunak has opened an advantage of 6% in the traditionally Conservative Blue Wall, Starmer has regained his lead in the Red Wall (now seven points, 39% to 32%.) Nationally, Starmer now leads by four points (41% to 37%) having led in all five polls during April. 

The Government’s current net competency rating of -23% is up two points from late March (-25%). As it stands, 47% of voters in Great Britain see the Government as incompetent, up two points from last month, while 24% see the Government Sunak leads as competent (+4). The Government’s net competency rating is also up in both the Red Wall and the Blue Wall, by two points to -26% in the Red Wall and by 13 points to -14% in the Blue Wall, respectively.

On policy delivery, the Government continues to struggle on the three key issues of the economy, the NHS, and immigration. In Great Britain as a whole, the Government’s net approval ratings for its handling of all three of these issues remains firmly in the negative double digits, although its ratings on two of those three issues have actually improved this month.

Its net approval on the economy sits at -19% (up three points from late March), the Government’s joint-highest rating on the economy since 24 July 2022. On the NHS, the Government’s net approval rating stands at -31% (+2) and on immigration, at -26% (-2). 

Net approval in the Red Wall for the Government’s performance on both the economy (-32%, -3) and immigration (-36%, -5) is down, although its rating on the NHS remains unchanged at -41%. 

Approval of the Government’s handling of all three issues has, however, risen in the Blue Wall, continuing the positive trend on all three issues in these seats from last month. The Government’s approval ratings on these issues in the Blue Wall now stand at -12% on the economy (+18), -28% on the NHS (+16), and -22% on immigration (+6).

For Keir Starmer, April has followed March as a more sobering month of polling, after the months of extraordinary poll leads that preceded them. Nonetheless, despite some narrowing, the overall picture still shows Labour comfortably ahead of the Conservatives.

Labour holds leads in all three of our voting intention polls, including double digit advantages over the Conservatives both nationally (17%) and in the Red Wall (18%). A two-point lead in the traditionally Conservative Blue Wall, while six points narrower than it was last month, still represents an extraordinary turnaround from the 2019 election when Labour finished in third place in these seats, 29% behind the Conservatives.

Starmer has improved his personal approval rating by seven points nationally in April, to now stand at +10%. In both the Red Wall (+4%, -1) and the Blue Wall (+7%, -1) his ratings are down slightly.

The NHS remains Labour’s most trusted issue, with voters in each of the Blue Wall (29%), the Red Wall (35%), and the country at large (41%) all selecting the NHS/Healthcare as the issue they most trust Labour to deliver on.

Labour holds leads over the Conservatives both nationally and in the Red Wall as the party most trusted on the economy, the NHS, and immigration. Labour’s leads in these two trackers range from as high as 27-points in our Red Wall poll on the NHS (42% to 15%) to a relatively slim three-point advantage over the Conservatives nationally as the party most trusted to handle immigration (29% to 26%.) 

In the Blue Wall, Labour retains leads on both the economy and the NHS, but loses its advantage on immigration, an issue on which the Conservatives now lead by one point (25% to 24%.)

Altogether, April has been a month of more mixed results for the Conservatives. While Rishi Sunak’s approval ratings continue to improve, the party he leads still trails Labour by double-digits in voting intention nationally, and by wide margins on the key issues of the economy and the NHS. With eighteen months to go to the next election, Labour and Keir Starmer remain the favourites for victory.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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