Political tracker roundup: April 2024

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 17, 2024, 11:02 AM GMT+0

The Tories hit new lows on our ‘best party to manage issues’ tracker, while Angela Rayner’s reputation takes a knock


Rishi Sunak continues to be very unpopular, with only 22% having a positive view of him while 69% have a negative view of him – giving a net favourability score of -47 this month.

Keir Starmer remains much more popular than his rival, although still unpopular overall – 33% have a positive view of the Labour leader and 53% have a negative one, giving a net score of -20.

Opinion of the Conservative party largely matches that towards its leader (-50 net score) while the Labour party is somewhat less unpopular than Starmer (-9).

Jeremy Hunt continues to be an unpopular chancellor (-46 net score) and Rachel Reeves is still mostly unknown to the British public – 53% do not offer an opinion on the shadow chancellor, who receives a net score of -9.

Angela Rayner’s favourability ratings have taken a knock since we last asked about her in October of last year. The deputy Labour leader, who has been embroiled in questions over her tax affairs in recent weeks, has seen the number of people with an unfavourable view rise from 33% to 43%, while the number with a favourable opinion of her has remained largely consistent (from 26% to 24%). This means her net favourability score has dropped from -7 to -19 since October.

This month’s favourability rotation includes home secretary James Cleverly and his shadow counterpart Yvette Cooper. Approximately half of Britons don’t have a view on either politician (48-50%), with Cleverly taking a net score of -28 to Cooper’s -10. Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, also on this month’s rotation, is even less well known, with 61% having no view of him, and a net favourability score of -26.

Other figures included this month are: levelling up secretary Michael Gove, whose net favourability score of -52 is virtually unchanged from the last time we asked about him in April 2023; defence secretary Grant Shapps, who we have not asked about before (he scores -35, with 42% of Britons not offering a view of him); and Reform UK president Nigel Farage, whose -37 net favourability score is similar to the -40 we had for him last month.

See the full results for our latest favourability figures here

Government approval

The government continues to be very unpopular, with 68% of Britons saying they disapprove of the government’s record to date, compared to only 15% who approve.

Even among those who voted to put the government in power – 2019 Tories – a majority disapprove of the government (56%), as do fully 86% of 2019 Labour voters.

Explore the data for this tracker here

Most important issues

The economy continues to be the most commonly cited ‘top issue’ facing the country, as it has since early 2022. However, it has been on a steady downward trajectory since July last year, falling from 62% at the start of that month to 51% now.

Health is a narrow second to the economy on Britain’s ‘top issues’ list, with 46% of people putting it in their top three, followed by immigration and asylum in third on a more distant 36%.

There is clear generational difference in priorities – while among the under-50s the economy has a ten-point lead over health, for the over-65s it is immigration that is the top issue at 53%, followed by the economy on 49% and health on 48%.

Among 2019 Conservatives the gap is even larger, with immigration way out ahead of economy as a top issue on 63% and 47% respectively. For 2019 Labour voters, the health and economy are effectively tied as the top issue, at 57% and 55% respectively.

Further down the table, concerns about defence remain elevated from the beginning of the year, having risen from 10% in our first poll of the year to an average of 18% in polls late January (including this latest one).

Explore the data for this tracker here

Best party on issues

Across the ten issues we track, the Conservatives hit their lowest or joint-lowest score of this Parliament across six of them this month: NHS (only 10% say they would be the best party), education (12%), immigration (14%), Brexit (15%), law and order (18%), and defence (21%).

Only on the issue of defence do the Conservatives score more highly than Labour, although at 21% to 18%, it is within the margin of error.

On the key question of the economy, Labour lead the Tories by 25% to 20%.

Explore the data for this tracker here

Government handling of issues

Of the 15 issues that we track, on only ‘terrorism’ do Britons tend to think the government is doing a good job, at 46% compared to 33% who say they are doing badly.

The issue Britons are least likely to think the government is handling well is immigration, at a mere 8%. On the key issues of the NHS and economy, only 11% and 23% respectively give the Tories’ performance a positive review.

Of particular note in recent months has been the collapse in the government’s perceived competence on defence – historically an area where they have performed relatively strongly. Currently only 28% of Britons think the government is handling defence well – as recently as the beginning of the year that had been 37%. Over the same time period the proportion saying the government is handling defence badly has risen from 38% to 50%.

This shift has come predominantly from older age groups, indicating that it is connected to the reaction to prominent announcements at the beginning of the year from military figures like defence secretary Grant Shapps and chief of the general staff Sir Patrick Sanders talking up the likelihood of a major global conflict, rather than other issues such as Britain’s stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Explore the data for this tracker here

Voting intention

A brief dip in the Labour vote earlier in the month has since reverted to the norm, with the party on 45% in our latest poll on 10-11 April 2024.

The Conservatives are currently on 19% of the vote, their joint lowest share to date (with another poll in March and more notably the lowest ebb for the party in the aftermath of the mini-Budget in 2022).

Reform UK’s vote share has continued to edge up over recent weeks, peaking at its highest ever total of 16% in two polls in the last month. Our latest poll has them on 15%, just 4pts behind their right wing rivals.

See full data for our latest voting intention results here

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Photo: Getty