Sir Keir Starmer is most likely to be compared to Tony Blair by voters, and is already seen as a clean break from Jeremy Corbyn, according to new polling 100 days into his leadership.
Figures provided exclusively by YouGov to Sky News give a picture of how the Labour leader is performing compared to previous party leaders.
A third of the public (33%) rated him as similar to former Labour prime minister Tony Blair – compared with only 8% finding him similar to his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.
Meanwhile 26% regarded him as significantly different to Mr Blair, compared with a massive 61% who regarded him as different to Mr Corbyn, who led Labour to its worst defeat in decades in December.
Sir Keir’s time at the helm has been dominated by COVID-19, but also by swift and decisive reforms to his party’s image – replacing the powerful general secretary with a more centrist figure, cracking down on antisemitism and firing his leadership rival Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet.
As leader, he is seen by some margin as different rather than similar to Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. But he was more likely to be compared even to Conservative prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May than Mr Corbyn.
Some 40% of voters are yet to make their mind up about him and YouGov’s research manager Chris Curtis said: “The British people are still getting to know Keir Starmer, but there have been a few things that have stood out to them so far.
“Despite having to run to the left in the leadership election, the public think he is now moving the party to the right and is a very different leader to Jeremy Corbyn.”
Sir Keir’s personal approval ratings have overtaken Boris Johnson’s but he has made clear that the Labour Party faces a huge electoral challenge in the so-called Red Wall seats in the North and Midlands which turned to the Conservatives, many for the first time.
His party is also behind the Conservatives in convincing voters with its economic policies and is currently embroiled in an internal row about whether to consider wealth taxes.
One of his shadow ministers told Sky News that, compared with the position in December, “where we are today with Keir is beyond most of our wildest dreams” but the leader had inherited “huge problems” not of his own making – most imminently Scottish Parliament elections next spring in which the party could lose more ground.
“The Scottish Labour Party appears to have no plan at all, then there’s the unions where we now have three different general secretary elections coming up and a Labour brand which is heavily tarnished in the electorate’s eyes plus a party machine in very poor condition,” the source said.
Another senior figure in his team said the biggest challenges were professionalising the party’s operation and “building an effective message and programme that contrasts powerfully with the Tories” which will both take time.
Mr Blair’s former adviser John McTernan said it was “brilliant news” for Sir Keir to be compared to Labour’s most electorally successful former leader.
He said: “I think there are similarities [with Blair]: north London, lawyers, a confidence about themselves… but the real thing I think voters see in Starmer is a man who could be prime minister. They never thought that for a second about Jeremy Corbyn, they never thought that for a second about Ed Miliband.
“What they’re seeing is… there’s a character there, there’s authority there, there’s credibility and now they’re starting to listen to him.”