‘For the first time, we have a proper opposition’
Alison Grainger, 67, retired, Oxfordshire
“I always voted Labour until the last election. I just felt [Jeremy] Corbyn wasn’t realistic, and wasn’t for the general public. He couldn’t make up his mind on Brexit and was always sitting on the fence on antisemitism.
“Starmer is far more in touch with the people than his predecessor, and the government. He leads calmly and professionally, with honesty and integrity. He ensures that he knows the facts and asks incisive and very relevant questions. I remember people in ‘red wall’ areas saying they’d never voted Tory but couldn’t vote for Corbyn, but for Starmer there’s some respect.
“He seems in touch with reality, and very statesmanlike. I think his background and past career all contribute. He’s very analytical and you trust him. I will definitely vote for him. I feel there is something that I can relate to and that makes sense to me. For the first time, we have a proper opposition emerging. I’ve been horrified by Boris Johnson and the present government, but I feel there’s hope now.”
‘He isn’t taking a stance on anything’
Kenny Field, 21, Portsmouth
“Keir Starmer is playing into respectability politics at the expense of people Labour should be trying to help. He wants to appear like a rational well-rounded leader, but he isn’t taking a stance on anything. He is merely playing the Tories’ game.
“With anti-black racism, Labour always had the image of being the anti-racist party, and now that’s been brushed under the rug. His response to the Black Lives Matter movement is one of the reasons why black people are leaving the party, and I totally get it. Starmer has built his career in the justice sector, he should know that our justice system isn’t race-blind. Rather than acknowledging it, he just shuts down the conversation. He’s not taking a stance on trans rights, or carrying forward the green new deal.
“I think Labour voters like myself who want the party to be more ambitious might hold our noses and vote for Starmer, but I’m not sure a lot of people will.”
‘He has no issue with calling out antisemitism’
Tom Rose, 22, recent graduate, London
“As a Jew, I now feel much more comfortable with the thought of Labour one day forming a government. Starmer seems pretty keen to tackle the malaise between the Jewish community and the Labour party and has no issue with calling out antisemitism. I was encouraged by the decisive action he took in firing Rebecca Long-Bailey, for example.
“I was a Labour supporter, but I voted Liberal Democrat at both general elections under Corbyn over the antisemitism issue, along with a wider dissatisfaction at the way the party was run. I’m not sure I’m quite back there yet, but I’m not against voting Labour any more.
“During this national crisis, Starmer has demonstrated his willingness to support the government where they are performing well, but is equally keen to call out the lack of clarity on various important issues, such as face masks. This more balanced approach is a fresh way of seeing an opposition behave.”
‘I feel so hopeless about the future now’
Margaret Brickland, 55, teacher, Newcastle
“I see Keir Starmer as a passionless leader who should, but isn’t, holding this government to account at a time when the most vulnerable people are dying simply because they are poor or old. Children are going hungry and being admitted to hospital because of malnutrition. Keir Starmer isn’t taking any action to protect the most vulnerable. It’s heartbreaking. I have no faith in him at all.
“I am a self-confessed Jeremy Corbyn fan. I liked his honesty. He came across as caring and passionate, and he put the people first. I was a Labour member for five or six years but resigned after Starmer sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey. I had been considering resigning for a while, since Starmer was elected, but that confirmed it for me – he doesn’t want left-leaning people in the shadow cabinet.
“Jeremy Corbyn gave me hope for my future, for my children’s future and for the country. But I feel so hopeless about the future now. Any Labour government is better than a Tory government, but I don’t see Labour winning the next election under his leadership.”
‘His approach during Covid-19 has been a masterclass’
James Hoddy, 36, NHS general surgery administrator, Gloucester
“I’ve been massively impressed. Starmer has taken a measured approach and he’s being proactive, saying [to Boris Johnson]: ‘I can see this problem coming, what are you going to do?’ He’s asking tough questions, taking control and making difficult decisions. That’s the sign of a good leader.
“I’ve been a Labour member since 2005. I was a Corbyn supporter and voted for him in 2015 but I could see that whoever took over from him would have a difficult job. I voted for Starmer because he stood by an incredibly progressive, Nordic-style manifesto and wanted to unify the party. It was a no-brainer.
“His approach in standing next to the government during Covid-19 has been a masterclass in balancing cheerleading and criticism. I can’t wait to see him get out there and talk to the public. That’s the one place where he’s still kind of stiff. He has made Labour more electable but he really needs to get into the groove of being a public speaker, but he’s a barrister so I think that will be easy to overcome.”
‘People see him as the grown-up in the room’
Chevan Ilangaratne, 26, bar school student, Beverley, east Yorkshire
“Having grown up in east Yorkshire in the loyally Tory-voting town that is Beverley, I have seen first-hand just how unpopular Labour was under its previous leadership. While many people feel very strongly about Brexit in these areas, my understanding so far is that people in my town, despite his remainer credentials, quite like Keir. They see him as a grown-up in the room with a willingness to speak his mind and be assertive where necessary. Many also view him as a serious man for serious times. Indeed, what people in the north care about, at least in my experience, is what you have to say and whether you’re willing to listen: they are much less concerned with where that person lives and what accent they may have.
“Starmer has made the Labour party look serious, professional and constructive. We have seen that through the pandemic where Starmer has worked with and supported the government on issues of national interest; at the same time, he has offered criticism where he has felt it is necessary. This approach is not only mature and grown-up, it helps make Labour looks reasonable
“Of course, Labour still has a mountain to climb and Starmer is no doubt aware of this. But after 100 days, the party looks to be in much better shape under their new leader, and it has started climbing that mountain.”
‘He could be a lot harder on the government’
Jude Stevens, 18, Sutton Coldfield
“Starmer does a fantastic job at PMQs usually, he’s very articulate and forensic, but often he doesn’t do a great job of holding the government to account on their many failings. With the huge amount of mistakes made, Starmer could be going a lot harder on them.
“In the last few elections, young people have begun to turn out in higher numbers, especially for Labour, and that’s because we were inspired by the politics that Labour stood for – viable socialism, ambitious climate measures, huge funding for the NHS.
“Labour is at risk of becoming a watered-down Tory party. For those of us on the left, if Labour continue this move to the centre, the Greens or a progressive Lib Dems could become a more appealing choice. It’s all well and good becoming electable but what’s the point if all you’ll do is maintain the status quo of the last 10 years?”