Although the public doesn’t think much better of Rishi Sunak’s approach
Keir Starmer has come under fire from sections of the Labour party for his response to the unfolding conflict in Israel and Palestine. Keir Starmer has refused to heed requests from MPs and councillors to call for a ceasefire, saying that Israel has a right to defend itself, and several cabinet members are said to be on ‘resignation watch’ over his stance.
Now a new YouGov survey finds that 42% of 2019 Labour voters think that Keir Starmer has badly handled Labour’s response to the situation in Israel and Palestine, including 20% who say he has handled it “very badly”. By contrast, only 26% think he has handled it well.
This is not enormously different from the wider public’s assessment of Starmer’s response: 42% of Britons say he has done badly, and 18% say he has done well.
Rishi Sunak is equally likely to be seen by the public as having done a bad job managing the crisis, at 43%. More are likely to say that he has done well (27%) than Starmer – this is because Conservative voters tend to approve of their party leader’s approach, in contrast to Labour. That said, Sunak’s handling is even more unpopular with Labour voters than Starmer’s – 65% say he has done a bad job.
The prime minister’s approach is clearly perceived as being more pro-Israel: 61% of Britons who say they sympathise more with the Israeli side think Sunak has handled the crisis well, while 81% of those who sympathise more with the Palestinians disagree.
Starmer’s approach is criticised by both sides: 61% of pro-Palestinians say it has been bad, with pro-Israelis saying the same by 46% to 27%. The Labour leader suffers from partisanship in this regard – Conservatives voters tend to be more sympathetic to the Israeli side, and are not willing to give their rival party’s leader credit for his approach.