Just four per cent of the public think Labour has got worse under Sir Keir Starmer, fresh polling has shown.
According to an Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by the Evening Standard, 48% of participants think Labour has changed for the better under Sir Keir while 36% believed he “has what it takes” to become prime minister.
The over-35s, graduates and white-collar voters were more likely to speak positively of Sir Keir while younger people were more prone to saying they noticed no difference at all.
The survey of 1,056 British adults taken between January 29 and February 4 also found that Sir Keir was preferred by six in 10 Labour supporters.
Some 36% think Sir Keir “has what it takes” to become prime minister – down two points from August – while 33% think he is ready to be the country’s leader now – faring better than his predecessors, Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband.
Even though Sir Keir has made in-roads with the public since being crowned Labour leader last April, he still has an uphill battle to convince people he has the right team for the job.
In fact, only 21% of respondents felt Sir Keir had the best team to deal with the country’s problems, compared with 41% for the Conservatives.
Some 44% thought Boris Johnson will respond better to the pandemic from now on than Sir Keir, with only 27% saying they think he would do better, while 44% thought Johnson would be better at managing Britain’s recovery after the pandemic, compared to 29% who said the Labour leader would be.
The government has also enjoyed a bump in the polls, overtaking Labour by four points (42%), and many are celebrating No 10’s vaccine rollout. Almost nine in 10 think the government is doing well at obtaining vaccines for Britain, including 84% of Labour voters. Some 78 per cent approve of the pace of rollout.
There is some good news for Labour. The number of people who think the party is ready to form the next government increased by three per cent from August to 32% in February. Meanwhile, more people (46%) think the government is handling the pandemic badly overall than doing well (38%).
These figures show that while nearly half of the participants felt Labour had “changed for the better”, it was seen as less united and that Sir Keir’s strategy of blaming Johnson personally for Britain’s record death toll is failing.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “The public are still to make up their mind about him … But it’s not just about the leader – the public still have questions about the party itself and whether it is ready for government. Although these are showing signs of slow improvement, there is a long way to go before they match election-winning Oppositions.”