Live revision! Join us for our free exam revision livestreams Watch now

In the News

Keir Starmer and election success

Mike McCartney

18th February 2021

Party leaders have an important influence on voting intentions

Keir Starmer has been under pressure recently, with many in his party worried about their performance in opinion polls.

National papers have reported that the Conservatives are about three percentage points ahead of Labour. And this is despite the fact that the majority of the British electorate feel that the Conservative government have done a bad job in dealing with the covid pandemic.

So what is the link, with particular regard to the A Level Politics syllabus?

The broad consensus is that party leaders play an important role in determining voting intentions in elections.

For instance, the well known psephologist David Denver has argued that there is a causal link between a party's performance in the polls and the relative popularity of the respective party leader.

What is worrying for Labour is that voters think Starmer would have done only a slightly better job than Boris Johnson in dealing with the pandemic.

See: Keir Starmer crisis as Labour leader struggles in polls - Boris enjoys 'vaccine bounce' | Politics | News |

And this is why many senior Labour figures have privately expressed concern that for Starmer to simply say he is not Boris is not the path to winning the next election. While they concede that Starmer may appear more Prime Ministerial than the current incumbent, this is not going to win the hearts and minds of floating voters.

I'm not one to often quote City AM, but there are echoes of this in the press:

'Starmer’s efforts to cleanse the party of antisemitism and boot out some of its toxic elements, the party’s former leader included, will doubtless have made an impression on the wider public. However, the point still stands that there isn’t enough of a clear Starmer agenda beyond the assertion that he is not Jeremy Corbyn.'


This partly explains Starmer's speech today.

It was heavily trailed in the media


as a marker about a post-pandemic Britain, and an attempt to present an alternative vision to that proposed by the Conservative government.

We shall see how well received it will be, and if there is any shift in the polls.

A clip of the Leader of the Labour Party's speech is here:

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.