The Daily Telegraph today reports the first findings from YouGov’s monthly poll for August. In regard of the foiled terrorist plot to blow up airliners, there are no huge surprises. 42% say they are a lot or a little more scared of flying, but the overwhelming majority of people (90%) say it will make no difference to whether they fly or not in the future. 6% said they would avoid flying in the future if possible and 8% said they would probably take their holidays in Britain from now on (which given the impact on air travel, may well be a sign of wanting to avoid inconvenience and irritation rather than fear of terrorist attack!) The vast majority of people thought that the police handled the threat very well (44%) or fairly well (42%). There was slightly less strong support for the performance of the airlines (22% very well, 52% fairly well) and airports (19% very well, 44% fairly well).

Despite people voicing concerns in previous polls that the government were exaggerating the terrorist threat, the majority (72%) of people think there was indeed a genuine threat to blow up transatlantic planes. Only 6% of people think there wasn’t, with 22% unsure. Asked who was behind it 72% of people thought it was Islamic extremists, either with help from abroad (67%) or acting alone (5%). 3% thought it was the Labour government and 3% thought it was the USA or Israel.

Perhaps the most significant finding in the poll though was the trends in attitudes towards the government and Islam. YouGov asked some questions which had previously been asked straight after the London underground bombings. In 2005 the public had been fairly evenly divided in how well they thought the government were handling the threat of terrorism – 31% thought their handling had been excellent or good, 32% thought their handling had been poor or very poor. The balance has now shifted against the government – 27% think their handling is excellent or good, with 38% thinking it has been poor or very poor.

Attitudes towards British Muslims and Islam in general have also deteriorated. In 2005 23% thought that practically no British Muslims supported terrorism and 64% of people though there was only a dangerous minority. 10% thought a large proportion of British Muslims were prepared to condone or take part in terrorism. The same question in this month’s poll found that 18% of people thought that “a large proportion” of British Muslims were extremists, and only 16% thought that practically no British Muslims supported terrorism.

Asked if Islam “as distinct from fundementalist Islamic groups” posed a threat to Western Liberal Democracy a majority (53%) now agreed. This is up from 46% in 2005 after the London underground bombings and up from 32% in 2001 after September 11th. In the aftermath of the Twin Towers falling 63% of people thought that Islam per se did not threaten Liberal Democracy…that figure is now down to 34%. As attitudes towards British Muslims and Islam itself become ever more suspicious, it does not bode well for community relations.

(No voting intention figures yet – they will presumably be in the Telegraph tomorrow or next week)


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