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Mile End Institute poll sheds light on Londoners' views on Labour one year into Keir Starmer’s leadership

Almost half of Londoners believe the UK Labour party is divided, according to a new survey from the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London.

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Stock image of Labour party rosette. Credit: stocknshares/
Stock image of Labour party rosette. Credit: stocknshares/

Other widely held views of the Labour party among Londoners are that it is incompetent (27 per cent) and old-fashioned (18 per cent). Only three per cent of voters in the capital think Labour is ‘united’ and likely to ‘keep its promises’ in government.

Despite London being perceived as one of Labour’s electoral strongholds and with recent polls confirming that Sadiq Khan is on course for victory in the upcoming mayoral election contest, the results indicate that Londoners’ perceptions of the party are broadly similar to the rest of the UK.

Dr Patrick Diamond, Associate Professor in Public Policy at Queen Mary and Director of the Mile End Institute, said: “London is perceived to be a Labour stronghold due to the relatively high proportion of BAME and younger, liberal voters in the capital. However, our latest poll suggests that while London remains a Labour city, the party’s position is not impregnable.”

Londoner's views on Labour leadership

On Keir Starmer, the survey results reveal that a year into his leadership, Londoners are divided in their views as to how he is doing as Labour leader: 38 per cent believe he is performing well, while 38 per cent think he is doing badly.  

The poll suggests that the Labour leader is viewed by the London electorate as honest (18 per cent), socially liberal (15 per cent), and a leader who ‘sticks to what he believes’ (14 per cent). Yet relatively few voters in the capital believe Starmer is ‘comfortable with Britain’s past’ (7 per cent), charismatic (7 per cent), or patriotic (4 per cent). Interestingly, almost a third of respondents (31 per cent) when asked didn’t know what his qualities were, indicating that the pandemic has hindered Starmer’s ability to make himself known to the British public.

When asked about his main weakness, almost a quarter of Londoners think he is unable to stand up effectively to Boris Johnson (23 per cent).

Londoners also perceive Starmer to be closest to the middle-class, London and the European Union, while he is regarded as relatively distant from working-class Britons. “With Keir Starmer as Labour leader, the image of the party as ‘extreme’ or ‘left-wing’ has less salience. However, our survey indicates that criticisms of his leadership as failing to connect with ‘red wall’, Brexit-leaning seats in Northern England have resonance, even among London voters, “added Dr Diamond.

'Keir Starmer's Leadership: One Year On'

On 10 May 2021, the Mile End Institute will be joined by a panel of experts to analyse the 2021 election results and evaluate Keir Starmer’s leadership after his first year in office at their online event ‘Keir Starmer's Leadership: One Year On.

Register for the Mile End Institute’s upcoming event ‘Keir Starmer's Leadership: One Year On’ or contact the Mile End Institute at for more information.

More information

  • All figures are from fieldwork conducted for the Mile End Institute (which should be credited as the commissioner and designer of the survey) by YouGov Plc. Fieldwork was conducted online between 29 March – 1 April 2021. Total sample size was 1,192 adults living in inner and outer London. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in London (aged 18+). YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules.
  • Read more about Queen Mary’s Mile End Institute 
  • Study Politics at Queen Mary.


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