What should Keir Starmer prioritise for his first 100 days?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 02, 2024, 9:13 AM GMT+0

The NHS, economy and cost of living are key contenders

Barring a major upset, Keir Starmer is likely to become prime minister on 5 July. Despite being on course for a record election victory, Starmer himself is more unpopular than popular, with our latest favourability polling giving him a net score of -10.

Key to Starmer cementing his new political position will be making a strong start in office.

He does have some leeway - our new poll shows that while only 21% of Britons actively have high hopes for a Labour government and expect them to do a good job, a further third (35%) say that although they don’t have high hopes for Labour, they are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Another one in three are irreconcilable (33%), saying that they do not have high hopes and are sure a Starmer government would not do a good job.

Those intending to vote for Labour are split between 56% enthusiasts – who have high hopes and good expectations – and 41% who are giving Starmer the benefit of the doubt.

Voters who are switching to the Labour party are also divided in their enthusiasm – 46% say they have high hopes for Labour, while 49% are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Among switchers coming from the Conservatives specifically this balance tips more towards the begrudging group: 55% say they don’t have high hopes but are willing to give Starmer the benefit of the doubt, while 41% are actively optimistic.

Most voters for other left wing parties are also willing to at least give Labour the benefit of the doubt: 85% of Lib Dem voters and 69% of Green voters.

Most Tory and Reform UK voters expect Labour to fail, but 21-22% from each party are at least willing to begrudge Starmer a chance.

What should Labour prioritise first?

Labour have already made pledges for their first 100 days, such as implementing their ‘plan to make work pay’, which includes reforms to the living wage, end fire and rehire, and ban zero hours contracts.

Few Labour voters think much progress on the UK’s problems can be fixed in the first 100 days (13%), but Starmer will want to be able to point to some major successes within his first year in office. Most, however, say that a great deal or fair amount of the current problems facing the UK can be fixed in the year following the election (58%).

When we asked how much progress Labour can make towards meeting nine more specific goals, some of which we based directly on the party’s “first steps for change”, in many cases expectations rose. Between 21-41% think at least a fair amount of progress can be made in 100 days, and 51-73% think the same over a one-year timeline

So what would Keir Starmer be best advised to prioritise?

If we base the answer on those issues which more Labour voters think can be achieved within a shorter timeframe, then the answer is the cost of living and getting the economy growing at a healthy rate.

Four in ten Labour voters (41%) think that at least a fair amount of progress can be achieved in improving economic growth within 100 days of the election, as do 39% for bringing down the cost of living.

If we expand the timeframe to a year then we can add cutting NHS waiting times and clearing backlogs to that list – around seven in ten Labour voters (70-73%) think at least a fair amount of progress can be made on each of these three issues by 4 July 2025.

If instead we base the answer on what people themselves say Starmer should prioritise then the NHS comes top.

We asked the public to tell us, in their own words, what the one biggest thing they would want Keir Starmer to achieve in the first 100 days of a Labour government. We then used our new AI-powered language model to categorise people’s answers.

Among those who gave an answer, the most common response categories are improving the NHS (20%), reducing immigration (17%) and addressing the cost of living crisis (11%). That is among all Britons, however – if we restrict the results purely to those who are actually attempting to elect a Labour government, we see only two standout answers; the NHS (28%) and cost of living (15%).

It is a similar story among voters who are switching to the Labour party at this election – 23% of those who gave a response say the top priority for Starmer’s first 100 days should be the NHS, while the cost of living comes second on 18%.

See the full results here and here

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Photo: Getty