Voters preferred Keir Starmer’s conference speech to Boris Johnson’s address, poll suggests – UK politics live

Good morning. Boris Johnson’s conference address got a very warm reception at the Conservative party conference yesterday, but speeches don’t always age well and since then the doubts about it have been firming up. Even some of the rightwing papers have been expressing reservations.

And last night Opinium released polling suggesting that Sir Keir Starmer’s conference speech made a better impression. Here are the key charts.



The results from our snap poll on Johnson’s speech.

The verdict – positive, although not as positive as Starmer’s.

% who think he came across as:
Strong – 53%
Competent – 49%
Cares about ordinary people – 46%
In touch with people’s concerns – 44%
Interesting – 40%

October 6, 2021


Across all metrics (apart from “interesting”) Johnson’s speech performed worse than Starmer’s speech last week.

Notably, 55% say they agreed with what Johnson had to say (compared to 63% for Starmer).

41% disagreed with what he had to say (compared to 29% for Starmer).

October 6, 2021


Part of the reason for that is that Johnson is a more divisive political figure.

But his speech still did a good job at keeping his election winning coalition happy.

80% of Conservative 2019 voters say they agreed with what he had to say, just 16% disagreed.

October 6, 2021

Polling should always be treated with some caution, and these figures are particularly tentative because, according to Sky News, which commissioned the poll, respondents only saw excerpts from the speeches. Almost no one watches party conference speeches in full, and the impact they make is determined by what people read or hear about them via the media, and that is still unfolding.

Still, on this measure at last, Johnson has been beaten by the man he dubbed “the human weathervane, the Starmer chameleon”.

For good round-up of how the papers are reporting the speech, do read the summary in Politico’s London Playbook, which is particularly thorough.

Parliament is still in recess and it looks as if it will be a quiet day at Westminster. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, is speaking at an energy conference, Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, is giving a speech on the Northern Ireland protocol, and ministers are expected to announce a change to the Covid travel red list this afternoon.

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