X Close

Who is Rachel Reeves? Voters don’t yet know

A round of applause for...what's her name? Credit: Getty

September 12, 2023 - 5:30pm

A new poll has highlighted the scale of the challenge facing Keir Starmer in getting the British public used to the idea of a Labour government. Despite multiple relaunches and photo-ops showcasing Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves front and centre alongside the leader, the YouGov poll shows that only 16% of the British public have a favourable opinion of her. Meanwhile, 61% of respondents have no opinion of her at all.

In the same poll, a larger number of people reported an opinion about the new Conservative Health Secretary Steve Barclay, suggesting that Barclay is better known among voters than Rachel Reeves. Even among Labour voters, only 29% think favourably of her.

Establishing Labour as economically credible has long been central to Keir Starmer’s mission to make Labour electable. To that end, the Labour leader and his Shadow Chancellor recently travelled together to the World Economic Forum at Davos to meet with business leaders.

After calling for an “Inverse OPEC” that would prioritise the UK’s energy security, Starmer went on to criticise Rishi Sunak for not attending the gathering. “I think our Prime Minister should have showed up — I absolutely do. One of the things that has been impressed on me since I’ve been here is the absence of the United Kingdom,” the Labour leader said. “That’s why I think it’s really important that I’m here and that our Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves is here”.

Last week’s reshuffle further demonstrated the Shadow Chancellor’s continuing importance to Starmer. Following the announcement, the Labour leader was filmed walking alongside deputy Angela Rayner and Reeves to the first meeting with his new team.

Despite the Shadow Chancellor’s increased visibility, the poll shows that it has not left much of an imprint on the British public: only 39% of respondents have an opinion of Reeves, with over two-thirds of female voters (69%) answering “don’t know” when asked what they thought of her.

One piece of good news for Reeves is that her 16% is an improvement on the 8% favourability rating that she registered in 2021. That is an increase of 8% in a little under two years.

It is not just Reeves who suffers from a lack of recognition. Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, who is often spoken of as a future Labour leader and a figure crucial to the success of a prospective Labour government, also registered poorly. Among respondents, only 12% have a favourable opinion of him, and 70% answered “don’t know”.

Overall, Labour is more popular than Starmer, who has a negative approval rating of -20 compared with the party’s approval rating of -11. The Tories, on the other hand, are floundering: the governing party has a negative approval rating of -48, while Sunak has a negative approval rating of -41.

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

16 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
N Satori
N Satori
9 months ago

Does it matter? These here-today-gone-tomorrow party political stooges (we are all supposed to be interested in) always promise a lot and deliver much, much less. When they’re not promising they’re preening themselves by association with the latest fashionable cause.
Just recently the pointed question we were urged to ask those intending to govern us was: What is a woman? Now we might also ask: Do you believe in the right to steal? For example, do you believe that those who self-identify as “disadvantaged” have a right to shoplift rather than paying for goods? Do you believe that rioting and looting are understandable responses to social inequality?
If not, then what do you intend to do about it? Do you have the political will to press the criminal justice system to actually protect the law-abiding public (with all that entails)?

Last edited 9 months ago by N Satori
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago

Labour will walk this election if they just hide and let the Tories lose it, so maybe it’s as well we don’t know much about them.

michael harris
michael harris
9 months ago

Following the Biden plan?

Chipoko
Chipoko
9 months ago

Labour vs Tory … etc, etc … They’re all the same Woking Class elite having fun in their Westminster power club. Nobody should worry about a Labour victory at the next UK general election. A Labour government will be almost indistinguishable from the present Tory rabble, and as incompetent and cynical.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
9 months ago

Well . . . given what most people think of politicians they DO know something about . . . etc

Last edited 9 months ago by Dumetrius
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
9 months ago

There is a deliberate air of secrecy about the cross-party plan to have another go at joining the euro.
Ms Reeves’ test will be whether she can negotiate membership of the European Economic Area first under the auspices of a new trade deal.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
9 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

I think that UK Euro membership is dead in the water-its simply a busted flush with no academic or practical support.This is of course a problem as re-joining the EU would I’m sure ,require joining the currency union.

Last edited 9 months ago by Pedro the Exile
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

Who? A technocrat with a green investment plan that will be paid for out of our pockets.

James Kirk
James Kirk
9 months ago

The public would like to see a politician with a clue and the determination to get us out of the mess we, like much of the world, are in. Sue Gray may know where the bodies are buried and Reeves has an insider view of the BoE. Neither seem to want to upstage the leader, unlike the Left who want the Blairites to fail. We at least knew what Corbyn offered. A choice to accept or reject, not a kind uncle or auntie offering sweeties to the children.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

She obviously doesn’t get anything like the air-time Govt Ministers do. Always the way for an Opposition.
She’ll get a set-piece opportunity come next Budget in response to whatever Hunt/Sunak propose, but her opportunities are going to be limited until a full election campaign commences and Media has to show all key players equally.
She seems much like Starmer. not flashy or flush with great rhetorical skills, but an underlying sense of competence and ruthlessness. Like Starmer she’s done some proper jobs, and here’s what – the Tories and Right Wing will have been searching high and low for dirt on them both. The fact they’ve found zilch shows these two may be somewhat managerial but seem to shown their competency in serious roles outside politics. And good grief does the country want less bluster and more quiet determined competence right now. This pair instrumental in turning around a ‘basket case’ of a Labour party too. That’s no mean feat.
As we’ve seen with likes of Bojo, Truss, Trump too – being a great campaigner or supposed visionary, absolutely no indicator of an ability to govern effectively. In fact almost the opposite. Public may not be hugely enthused by Reeves or Starmer but they’ll detect more chance of some competency, the potential ability to get difficult things done, manage trade-offs and avoid hunting for scapegoats.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

What makes you believe that Reeves and Starmer are competent ?
Starmer’s prosecution success rate as DPP was apparently appallingly low.
Besides which, what have they actually succeeded at ? For a top job, I’d far rather have someone who’s actually got a record of doing stuff and making improvements, even if that includes the occasional failure (as it invitably will). “No failures” is not really a recommendation – more likely means they weren’t trying hard enough or not actually doing anything significant.
“Labour gets less airtime” ? For real ??? There’s never a BBC news headline which doesn’t run like this: “The government announced X. Labour denounced the plan as [platitude Y]. <cut to Labour spokesperson soundbite>”.
“Proper jobs” ? Hardly. Nothing at all hands on with ordinary people. PPE degree. Elite banking. Almost certainly yet another useless PPE production line clone (bizarrely even more common in the Labour party than the Tories).

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Out of interest PB, what was Starmer’s prosecution rate and how’s it compare to others? One would think if so dire we’d have it splashed everywhere already wouldn’t we?
Tribalism aside too, the dilemma for any DPP is if one seeks to prosecute cases that the evidence shows there is less chance of success the rate drops, even if you satisfy some demand to have attempted to prosecute. Remember DPP isn’t responsible for the evidence. So I suspect DPPs always slightly open to criticism and damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Thing is though it’s a proper job, and I would strongly suspect of greater responsibility than you or I ever got anywhere near.
Furthermore turning around the Lab party such that it has a half decent chance of electoral success not a bad demonstration of competency and ruthlessness. You may not welcome that, but pretty good demonstration of political skill and single mindedness.
And whilst BBC Charter means it has to balance time as far as possible, it’s hardly the same as the daily Govt ‘Lobby system’ which largely controls the agenda and the predominant right wing press/media.
Elite Banking? I’m not sure how that’s defined, but also out of interest what did Farage do?

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Why are you so concerned about Nigel Farage ? How is that even relevant here ? (I believe he was a metal trader at some point – but I think you already know that).
“Predominant right wing press/media” ? You what ?
The Labour party has not been “turned around”. Not sure what you’re smoking, but there’s very little to your claim. Remember, that Starmer actively campaigned for his “friend” Corbyn and didn’t speak out when it mattered.
All Labour has done is nothing. They’re hoping that doing nothing is enough. Sadly, they may be right.
And if you want ineffectual, do-nothing people to run the country, Labour’s probably your top pick right now.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Got to laugh at the metal trader contortion. You mean Stock Broker of course rather than Albert Steptoe. A proper job I guess you’d argue whilst Banking isn’t? Anyway point being be careful what argument you use for somebody’s illegitimacy.
Rest of you points is normal tribal stuff. That’s ok, but suspect majority will concur at the mo with the picture I painted and next year we’ll see.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Noise, JS. Your attempted Farage deflection is just noise.
As, incidentally, is Labour’s current policy agenda (such as it is).
Metal trader at London Metal Exchange. Widely known and recorded fact. Surely not that difficult to accept, is it ?
Not sure what’s tribal about what I wrote.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

So Commodity Trader a better prep for career in politics as opposed to DPP or Banking? That’s the point. Of course Farage never got near being in actual Govt (probably in truth never wanted real accountability), but would you have said same – i.e:inadequate preparation – if he had? Interested what types you do think well prepped? Ex Etonian journalists perhaps?
Your BBC stuff is tribal silliness without any basis in fact, but hey one can roll with it.