Labour goes into the Westminster summer break with a commanding 17-point lead over the Conservatives, despite a fall in approval ratings for party leader Keir Starmer.
The latest Opinium poll for the Observer puts Labour on 42%, down one point since a fortnight ago, while the Tories are down three points to 25%, their poorest showing since the disastrous premiership of Liz Truss.
The Liberal Democrats are on 11% (up two points), Reform UK is on 10% (up two points), while the Greens stay unchanged on 6%.
Labour’s progress over the past year – and the decline of the Tories over the same period – is illustrated by the fact that in late June 2022, just before Boris Johnson quit as prime minister, Labour’s lead over the Tories with Opinium stood at just two points.
Starmer’s party is also far ahead of the Tories on a series of “branding” issues on which Opinium quizzes voters.
When voters were asked whether the two parties were “in touch with ordinary people”, Labour showed a net rating of +7% (when the number of people who answer negatively is subtracted from the number who answer positively) while the Tories’ net score stood at -53%.
When asked if the party was “competent”, Labour received a net score of -3% against the Tories’ -37%.
Despite suggestions from critics in the party and media that Labour lacks a clear agenda, when people were asked whether Labour and the Tories had “a clear sense of purpose”, Labour scored -3% against the Tories’ -30%.
After a week in which Starmer has been involved in a row over his refusal to commit to ending the two-child benefit cap, the Labour leader’s personal ratings have dropped from -4% to -14%. Among current Labour voters it has gone from +52% net approval (64% approving, 12% disapproving) two weeks ago to +38% (55%, 17% disapproving).
Starmer’s lead over Rishi Sunak on the question of who would make the best prime minister has also been cut from 6% two weeks ago, to 3% now.
Crucially, however, at a time when much of the political debate has been dominated by the economy, Labour lead the Tories on the issue, with 31% saying the economy would be run best by Starmer, against 29% who favour Sunak being in charge of the nation’s finances. On the issue of spending, Labour leads by 10 points with 33% thinking they would spend more efficiently, against 23% who would prefer the Tories to be in charge.