Starmer seen less favourably than Johnson for first time since May 2020

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 17, 2021, 11:51 AM UTC

The Labour leader is still more popular than his party, however

With Labour leader Keir Starmer increasingly coming under fire for failing to make headway against the Conservatives, the latest YouGov favourability survey shows that Starmer’s net favourability rating has now slipped below Boris Johnson’s.

Currently 31% of Britons have a favourable view of Keir Starmer, compared to 49% who take a negative view, giving a net favourability rating of -18. This represents an 8pt decline from the previous survey in late February, and is lower than the current score of -11 Boris Johnson holds (virtually unchanged from -12 in the prior poll). It is also Starmer’s worst score to date.

This marks the first time since May 2020 that the prime minister has been more popular in net favourability terms than the leader of the opposition – although back then the government was still enjoying a surge in goodwill from the onset of the pandemic, and Starmer had likewise only just taken over and was still largely unknown.

At that point a third of Britons didn’t know what to make of the Labour leader – that figure has since fallen to 22%, still more than twice as high as the 9% of Britons who don’t know how they feel about Boris Johnson.

Starmer is not yet, however, as unpopular as his party, which has also seen a decline in popularity of late. Currently 31% of people have a positive view of Labour, compared to 55% who take a negative view, giving a net score of -24. This is down from -16 in the previous poll.

Labour voters still have a positive view of the party leader, although this too is diminishing. Half (51%) of those who backed the party in 2019 currently hold a favourable view of Starmer, but a third do not, at 35%. This gives a net score of +16, although this has dropped from +26 just two weeks prior.

If there is any consolation for Starmer’s supporters to be had, it is that the Labour leader’s ratings are still far better (or less bad) than those of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn for the last two years of his tenure.

See the full results here