Would things get better under Keir Starmer and Labour?

Fintan SmithPolitical Research Executive
July 17, 2023, 2:32 PM GMT+0

Britons tend to think the NHS and social care would improve, but are divided on the economy

With Labour consistently ahead in YouGov’s Westminster voting intention polls, it looks like a change of government at the next election could be very likely. Currently most Britons perceive the Conservatives to be handling major issues such as the economy and health poorly, but do the public believe that a Labour government would do a better job?

A new YouGov poll offers us some clues.

How much of a difference does it make which party is in power?

“It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in” goes the old joke. Seven in ten Britons tend to disagree, however, with 26% saying that which party runs the government has a great deal of impact on their lives, and 43% say it has a fair amount of impact. Only 22% of Britons think it makes little to no difference who’s in charge.

However, when it comes to a face-off between a Labour government under Keir Starmer and a Tory government under Rishi Sunak, fewer Britons are convinced it will make a difference to their daily lives. While a majority (55%) still think it would have a notable impact on their life which government was in power, the number expecting things not to change much for them rises to 34%.

What do Britons think would get better under a Labour government?

Looking more specifically at how things might change in the wake of a Labour election victory, of the thirteen issues we asked about there are only two which Britons have a clear tendency to believe things would get better, rather than stay the same or get worse: the NHS (42%) and social care (40%).

They are next most likely (31-34%) to believe that income inequality, opportunities for young people and the overall standard of living would improve, as well as education, the cost of living, housing and the economy.

Would anything get worse under Labour?

Britons hold the least faith in Labour’s ability to improve the situation with small boats crossing the channel (12%), and defence (11%). On small boats, Britons are most likely instead to believe things would stay the same (37%), rather than get any worse (31%), whilst when it comes to defence they are divided between thinking Labour would make things worse (33%) or things would be about the same (35%).

Those intending to vote Labour are also the least likely to believe that this would have a positive impact on these issues, with only one in four believing a Labour government would improve the situation with small boats crossing the channel (25%), and a similar number believing defence would improve (23%).

While 31% of Britons believe the economy would get better under Labour, it is worth noting that this is the measure people are most likely to think would get worse under Starmer’s party, at 34%.

Who do Britons think would benefit from a Labour government?

Britons are overall divided on whether life would get better for people like themselves under a Labour government, with around three in ten believing life under Labour would get better (30%), worse (29%) or stay about the same (27%).

As would be expected, a large majority of those who intend to vote Labour (67%) think lives would get better for people like themselves if the party wins the next election. However about one in five believe that a Labour government would have no impact (21%) on their lives.

YouGov tracking data tells us that Britons overall see Labour as being closer to benefit claimants, working class people and immigrants than the Conservative party. This is reflected in who Britons tend to believe life would get better for under Labour.

Britons are most likely to believe that a Labour government would have a positive impact on the lives of working people on low incomes (48%), people working in public services (46%) and people on out of work benefits (43%). The public also tends to believe life would improve for ethnic minorities (38%) and young people (35%). The only group of people asked about for whom a Labour government would have a negative impact was rich people (47%).

See the full results here and here

Photo: Getty

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