A new poll finds that most voters have no view on the Shadow Chancellor
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.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
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.