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Source: Labour List UK

© UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

A new YouGov poll has indicated that 40% of British people believe Labour is not doing a good job of holding the government to account on its handling of coronavirus, with 14% saying the party is doing “very badly”.

The research, which was conducted this week and saw 5,068 UK adults surveyed, will support the argument made by some that Keir Starmer’s opposition party is not criticising strongly enough Boris Johnson’s decisions on Covid-19.

Over a quarter, at 26%, said they thought Labour was “fairly badly” holding the government to account on its response to the coronavirus pandemic, while a further 14% answered that it was doing “very badly”.

34% of those surveyed said they felt Labour was doing a good job of holding the government to account, with 5% of them saying they were doing “very well”. 26% of respondents chose the “don’t know” option.

Among Labour voters, 57% of respondents said they believed Labour was doing well at holding to account the government’s Covid response and only 26% said they felt the official opposition was doing a bad job.

While gender and class appeared to have little influence on people’s views on this question, voters aged over 50 were more likely to have a negative view of Labour’s response than young people, which reflects voting intention patterns.

Labour has faced criticism over its “constructive” approach to opposition this week, after Starmer was rebuffed by Johnson for asking about the scientific basis behind the 10pm hospitality curfew at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the argument he had already made was enough for the Labour leader to support the measure when it was first unveiled. Starmer has since said Labour will not oppose the curfew in a parliamentary vote.

Since its launch, the curfew for hospitality venues has been widely criticised as crowds of people were recorded and pictured gathering in city centres and entering public transport, with long queues forming outside off-licences, after 10pm.

Starmer has emphasised that there is a “smarter way” to implement shorter opening hours, and urged Downing Street to follow Wales, where 10pm is “drinking-up time” rather than when guests are forced to leave.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard took a markedly different tone to Starmer after the SNP announced new restrictions for pubs and restaurants this week, saying Nicola Sturgeon was treating the hospitality sector like “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

But Starmer has made stinging criticisms of Johnson’s character. He said of the Prime Minister in a BBC interview last week: “I don’t think he has got the right character for this and I don’t think he is up to it.”

The new polling from YouGov comes a week after research from Opinium reported that Starmer’s Labour had pulled ahead of the Conservatives in voting intention for the first time since July 2019.

The poll put Labour on 42% of the vote share, three points higher than the Tories who sat on 39%. It also reported that public disapproval of the government’s coronavirus handling had hit an all-time high of -50%.

Polling by Opinium in mid-March, before the UK lockdown, had the Tories on 49% in terms of voting intention, with Labour well behind on 32% – a gap of 17 points. At that point, 44% approved of the government’s handling of Covid.

MIL OSI United Kingdom