How well known is Starmer's shadow cabinet?

Adam McDonnellAssociate Director of Political and Social Research
September 30, 2021, 10:52 AM UTC

The Labour top team are largely unknown by the public, and those who are tend to be viewed unfavourably

Most people don’t follow politics closely, and apart from those holding the top positions in government or party leaders, it is rare for politicians to become household names. This can make it tricky even for ministers to get any cut through and even more of a challenge when you’re in opposition.

A year and a half into his premiership, Keir Starmer is now a name recognised by the vast majority of people in Britain, with 91% of the public saying they’ve heard of him. When it comes to the shadow cabinet, however, it’s a whole different story. In fact, only two of his team have been heard of by a majority of the public – Ed Miliband (92%) who led the party between 2010 and 2015, and deputy leader Angela Rayner (59%).

Around half of Brits have heard of David Lammy (49%), and Emily Thornberry (48%) – long serving MPs, both of whom have held positions in former Labour shadow cabinets.  Around four in ten recognise Anneliese Dodds (39%), who was originally selected as Starmer’s shadow chancellor, and Lisa Nandy (37%) who ran against Starmer in the 2020 party leadership election.

Beyond this, fewer than a third of Brits recognise all other shadow cabinet ministers we tested, including 29% for health minister John Ashworth, 26% for shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and just 6% for shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds.

Those who are recognised by the public aren’t particularly popular. Only 29% of Britons have a favourable opinion of Starmer, compared to 49% who have an unfavourable view. Ed Miliband is marginally more popular, but is still regarded unfavourably by 45% to 30%. Angela Rayner’s figures are 19% favourable versus 26% unfavourable, with 56% not expressing an opinion about the deputy leader.

See the full results here