Yorkshire Post voter study sees Sunak labelled 'Out of touch'

A snap study of voters in Yorkshire, exclusive to The Yorkshire Post, has seen Rishi Sunak labelled as “out of touch” by many of the respondents.

The rapid response voter panel study, conducted by pollsters JL Partners on behalf of campaign group 38 Degrees, saw the opinions of a varied sample of 110 voters taken in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday night’s television debate between Conservative leader Rishi Sunak and his Labour counterpart Sir Keir Starmer.

Matthew McGregor, CEO of 38 Degrees, said: “The first election debate was a chance to hear how the parties would bring the change Yorkshire people desperately want and need. The NHS is on its knees. The cost-of-living crisis is hurting people across the region, whether they’re financially desperate or just want to live a little.

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“Many people feel neither party is doing enough to address the problems that matter most to them, and they don’t trust that those seeking their votes are truly able to tackle the challenges that they and their families are facing.”

Rishi Sunak speaks to the media at the launch of the Conservative campaign bus at Redcar Racecourse. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA WireRishi Sunak speaks to the media at the launch of the Conservative campaign bus at Redcar Racecourse. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Rishi Sunak speaks to the media at the launch of the Conservative campaign bus at Redcar Racecourse. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The qualitative study asked respondents to share their views in response to five questions: what they thought of both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer in relation to what they’d seen or heard about the TV debates, which of the two candidates they thought understood the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people, who they would trust most to fix the NHS, and which of the two would be more likely to address the biggest issues facing Yorkshire were they to become Prime Minister.

One 66-year-old man who intends to vote for Reform UK said Rishi Sunak was “grovelling to save his job”, while a 59-year-old male Labour voter said he was “out of touch”.

A 38-year-old male student who plans to vote for the Liberal Democrats said Keir Starmer “wants to change and rebuild the country”, and a male prison officer, 52, who voted Conservative in 2019 and has now switched to Reform UK said Sir Keir “looked confident and excited that power is within his grasp”.

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The largest proportion of Yorkshire voters (49 per cent) thought Keir Starmer was most likely to address local challenges if elected, compared to 23 per cent for Rishi Sunak, despite the fact he represents a Yorkshire constituency in Parliament. Twenty-eight per cent didn’t know.

In response to that question, a 33-year-old unemployed male, who voted Conservative in 2019 but would now vote Labour, said: “Sunak has no new ideas and is making things worse, (Keir Starmer) is worth a shot.”

A 45-year-old man, a manager, who voted Conservative in 2019 and plans to do so again, said: “Starmer has changed his position too often, comparing his position to what he said during the Labour leadership vote. Sunak, whilst not brilliant, does offer specifics.”

Meanwhile, nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) thought Keir Starmer understood how the cost-of-living crisis impacts ordinary people compared to only 17 per cent who thought Rishi Sunak understood it better. However, more than a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) felt neither candidate understood the issue.

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On the topic of fixing the NHS 42 per cent said they trusted Keir Starmer most compared to only 17 per cent favouring Rishi Sunak. Again, a quarter of respondents (25 per cent) trusted neither to fix the health service, with one – a 66 year old male business owner who voted Conservative in 2019 and is currently a Reform UK voter – saying the NHS was “unfixable.”

Tom Lubbock, co-founder of JL Partners, said: “The overarching sentiment in response to the debate is one of distrust towards politicians generally, with many feeling neither candidate fully grasps or prioritises the challenges faced by people in Yorkshire.

“Given Conservative attack lines, it is interesting that there are widespread doubts about the plans on display from both Starmer and Sunak and neither is widely trusted.”

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