Sunak and Starmer Monthly Polling Report Card (September 2023)

October 1, 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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At the end of a month dominated by RAAC and ‘net zero,’ the overall polling situation for Rishi Sunak and his Government remains unchanged: the Conservatives trail Labour in all of our regular trackers and although our most recent polling finds a slight narrowing of Labour’s leads nationally and in the Red Wall, it is too early to say if this provides evidence of a Conservative fightback.

Altogether, Labour ends September with a 15% lead over the Conservatives nationally, one point less than in our last poll of August. Labour’s lead in their traditional heartland ‘Red Wall’ seats has dropped more dramatically, falling by eleven points in the two polls since the end of July to now stand at 14%, the narrowest lead Labour has held in these seats since August 2022 (when Boris Johnson was still Prime Minister).

However, it is worth bearing in mind, as always when considering our Red Wall results, that such a result, if repeated at an election, would still represent a dramatic turnaround from December 2019, when Labour finished almost nine points behind the Conservatives in these seats, and would be enough for Labour to win back most, if not all, of these seats.

Reinforcing Labour’s leads nationally and in the Red Wall, the party’s advantage over the Conservatives in the ‘Blue Wall’ constituencies in southern England has grown by one point to now stand at 2%. For context, at the last election, the Conservatives won these seats with 50% of the vote, a full 29-points ahead of Labour (21%), who were beaten into third place by the Liberal Democrats (27%). 

In Scotland, Labour is now just two points behind the SNP (32% vs 34%) in our Westminster Voting Intention poll, a massive turnaround from 2019 when the party came third in Scotland with only 19% of the vote. In Wales, meanwhile, Labour enjoys a 22-point lead over the Conservatives. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating is up by one point nationally to now stand at -14%. In the Red Wall, the Prime Minister’s rating has fallen by two points to -11%, while his rating in Scotland has fallen by seven points to -27%.

On the question of who would be the better Prime Minister, Keir Starmer now leads Rishi Sunak in four of our five regular tracker polls. Starmer’s nationwide lead over Sunak is now nine points (43% vs 34%), down one point from the end of August, while his lead in the Red Wall is also down, falling three points to now stand at 6% (42% vs 36%). He also leads over Sunak by double digits in both Scotland (43% vs 24%) and Wales (44% vs 33%).

Rishi Sunak has, however, regained his lead over Starmer in the Blue Wall (37% vs 34%), having fallen one point behind the Labour leader in these seats last month. 

For Keir Starmer, September was another good month, with his personal approval rating still in positive territory in four of our five trackers (despite a negative rating in Wales and some slippage nationally) while he maintains his healthy advantage over Rishi Sunak nationally in their personal head-to-head.

Nationally, his net approval now stands at +9%, down three points from last month, while his ratings in both the Red Wall (+7%) and Scotland (+7%) have also improved by two points.

In his speech last week, the Prime Minister promised to “set out a series of long-term decisions” to deliver “change” in the coming months. Having run for the Conservative leadership promising stability, Sunak’s attempt to cast himself now as an agent of change risks giving voters whiplash. With Labour still in a dominant position in the polls, the Conservatives chances at the next election now rest on Sunak’s ability to convince the public that he is genuine and that his policies can deliver the change that much of the country wants.

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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