The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here. Here are some of the highlights.

The poll asked about Libya, but as it was conducted between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon the questions were rather overtaken by events. There are a couple of early straws in the wind though. Asked whether David Cameron has responded well or badly to the situation in Libya, 37% thought he had done badly, 44% well – a net score of minus 7 compared to minus 16 a fortnight ago when the same question was asked.

Most of this shift appears to have happened between Thursday and Friday as news of the UN resolution emerged – amongst people who filled in the survey overnight on Thursday approval of Cameron’s handling of Libya was still minus 13, amongst people who filled it in from Friday morning onwards approval of Cameron’s handling rose to minus 3. Of course, the whole of the survey was conducted prior to the start of actual military operations on Saturday – we won’t know the effect of that on public opinion until tomorrow.

In this poll support for a no-fly zone stood at 69%, with 14% opposed. Of course, theoretical support for a “no-fly” zone won’t necessarily translate into support for the present air strikes on Libya – we shall find out next week.

Secondly there were a group of questions on the Alternative Vote. Voting intention in the referendum currently stands at YES 33%, NO 32%, Don’t know 27%, won’t vote 7%. For the first time in a YouGov referendum poll, there were also figures weighted by likelihood to vote, though at this stage they made very little difference to the overall position – weighted by likelihood to vote the numbers were YES 39%, NO 37%, Don’t know 23%.

41% of people said they thought the present system was fair, compared to 30% who think it is unfair. However, only 26% people said they thought AV would be fairer, compared to 24% who think FPTP would be fairer and 14% who think there is nothing to chose between them.

On the cost of the referendum itself, 37% of people think it is a waste of taxpayers’ money, compared to 43% who think it is right that money is being spent on giving the public the final say.

Finally there were some questions about nuclear power. 43% of people said the recent events in Japan had made them less supportive of nuclear power, 48% that it had made no difference. Overall people remained broadly split over nuclear power – 40% said they supported its use, 48% that they opposed its use. The majority of people (60%) thought that nuclear power stations in the UK were safe.

There was, incidentally, a very strong gender contrast on the nuclear questions. Large gender differences in polls are actually quite rare, men and women normally have pretty similar views, nuclear weapons and power are one of those areas where their views are very different. Men are supportive of nuclear power by 54% to 37%, women are opposed to it by 25% to 57%.


179 Responses to “YouGov on Libya, AV and nuclear power”

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  1. @ Old Nat

    “Gadaffi supporters should take off their uniforms and head for Benghazi (it wasn’t just desert tribes).

    For those who insist that there is no tribal/national (delete as appropriate) differences between the opposing parties – listen to the statement.”

    This is another one of Ghadaffi’s “Bad Idea Jeans” moments. Have you ever been camping in a desert? It’s actually one of the safest places to go camping (as opposed to the woods) because the terrain makes it so that any predators, human or animal, have a very difficult time surprising you (you can hear and see them from miles away). In a military conflict though, you’re extraordinarily vulnerable because you’re sitting out in the open with high visibility (making you a far easier target for aerial attack).

    Telling various tribes to go and converge on Benghazi is an open invitation to get killed. I have a feeling that they’re not going to do it.

  2. amber
    Stick with it. The issues you are raising are important

  3. ComRes poll released at midnight tonight strangely. Andrew Hawkins has tweeted that it is a “bit of a shocker”. Jusdging by past ComRes’s that means zero but I thought I would flag it up anyway.

    The poll was commissioned by the fair fuel lobby.

  4. @ Colin

    Go for it gal-you’ll find Osama in there somewhere
    —————————————————
    And you – work hard enough & I’m sure you’ll find a peaceful, pro-democracy movement behind the ‘rebels’ who are armed, had at least one fighter jet & who have been filmed dancing in triumph around the burned bodies which the French airstrike left in its wake.
    8-)

  5. The statement by Amr Moussa (Arab League) called for an emergency meeting of the group of 22 states to discuss Libya.
    “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone… ”

    Apparently the statement issued in Arabic expressed more strongly worded reservation.
    Qatar could be the only Arab country actively supporting at this stage.

  6. OLDNAT

    “For those who insist that there is no tribal/national (delete as appropriate) differences between the opposing parties – listen to the statement.”

    Yes he did refer to tribes.

    I found it interesting-because in the interviews with people in Benghazi & other eastern towns which I have seen, they have downplayed tribal affiliation, have emphasised their identity as “Libyan”, and stated that they want one country with the capital in Tripoli.

    We know that Gaddaffi has ruled by factionalising the country-with committees for everything, from whom permission is needed to move house, marry, open a shop etc etc.

    This looks lke the classic divide & rule tactic, and my feeling is that Gaddaffi plays tribalism up , because it helps him govern.

    One of the things which has struck me about the young professionals at the centre of the Egyptian Revolution ( & reportedly at the heart of the Libyan Revolution) is how “untribal” they seem-how modern they seem.

    Perhaps I am becoming too hopeful about all of this, but I do see a younger generation at the heart of this Arab Spring, who seem to want just what we want-Freedom , Parliamentary Democracy, separation of State & Church.

    If these young people can achieve what they seem to want, then perhaps the stereotyped image we in the west have of Arabs-Tribal / Inward looking / Hidebound by the Qran & so on-can be left behind with their older generation.

    If a country the size of Egypt, together with Libya & Tunisia could transit to vibrant secular democracies, with resurgent economies & cultures, think of the effect that could have in the region & globally.

  7. Amber

    “dancing in triumph around the burned bodies which the French airstrike left in its wake.”

    the bodies of the tank crews who had been shelling their homes & hospital.

    You set exacting standards Amber-for everyone but Gaddaffi .

  8. Thank you, Barney.

    Of course we support any humanitarian effort to open escape routes for civilians & supply lines to ensure that injured people (civilians & combatants) can receive medical treatment.

    Gaddafi has asked for mediators to help ensure the cease-fire is being observed by both sides. Why should the international community be allowed to reject this out of hand & continue military intervention?

    The UN resolution seeks a cease-fire & aid for civilians, not regime change. Yet there is a war going on for our minds. Everything the ‘rebels’ say is true, everything Gaddafi says is lies.

    And we have people in positions of authority saying the end game is: “Gaddafi must go”. This seems more important to them than a cease-fire. It should not be; they already have their priorities wrong.
    8-)

  9. I think my post got moderated.

    There was an Observer article today suggesting that the Government had SUPPRESSED a mori-ipso poll that showed record levels of satisfaction with the NHS.

    What do we think of the burying of polls that don’t support what we want to do? Especially if we commission it ourselves?

  10. @ Colin

    You set exacting standards Amber-for everyone but Gaddaffi .
    ————————————————-
    Here is who I set exacting standards for, Colin.

    I set them for the international community & the UN.
    Without exacting standards & transparent impartiality, the authority of the UN, the international community & the strength of any international laws could be fatally undermined.

    The UN is not a pro-democracy institution. It is not there to impose regime change or process change on its members. Any evidence to the contrary weakens an institution that is our best hope for bringing order to the chaos that is inherent in the competing interests of all the world’s nations.
    8-)

  11. Amber,
    how many times does Gaddafi have to lie before you stop believing what he says. Did you not read Grim’s fairy tales as a little girl – the boy who cried wolf springs to mind. I bow to your vastly superior knowledge of international law and therefore will not use the word genocide on this site but I fail to see how you can believe someone who has murdered his own people in cold blood. Gaddafi’s history, the early scenes of unarmed people demonstrating in the streets of Tripoli and being shot down, the defection of his own ministers and diplomats confirms to me that the UN decision and its backing by the nations now involved was entirely correct.

    by the way, a Pentagon news conference has just stated that the Arab League does endorse the current action. It also said that the libyan armaments attacked by the French were travelling to Benghazi.

  12. Assuming the rebels are eventually victorious & Gaddafi is either, killed or captured or scampers off to join his pal Robert Mugabe, what are the chances of Al-Magrahi being recaptured and returned to custody, to serve the remainder of his sentence?

  13. Colin

    “separation of State & Church.”

    When is England going to do that?

  14. @ Peter Bell

    a Pentagon news conference has just stated that the Arab League does endorse the current action. It also said that the libyan armaments attacked by the French were travelling to Benghazi.
    ————————————————–
    Reporters on the ground & photographic evidence show:
    1. One strike, in which 4 tanks facing Benghazi were hit.
    2. Another strike, where it is clear that both armoured & civilian vehicles, heading away from Benghazi towards Tripoli, were hit with considerable loss of life.
    8-)

  15. @ Peter Bell

    I’ll say again. I support resolution 1973. I am not pro-Gaddafi. I am against the coalition exceeding its mandate. And doing this on the very first day of the intervention!
    8-)

  16. @Robert Newark – “… what are the chances of [Abdelbaset al-Megrahi] being recaptured and returned to custody, to serve the remainder of his sentence?”

    “… the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) found prima facie evidence in June 2007 that Megrahi had suffered a miscarriage of justice and recommended that he be granted a second appeal.”

    More info on Wikipedia etc. if you are interested.

  17. @ Colin

    “THanks

    I agree with much of that.

    RE the Russians-I suppose if you’ve just seen the prospects of repeat orders for your Libyan SAMs & Air defence kit blown to bits, you would be a bit irritated.

    RE THe Chinese-trade is everything-they will trade with anyone where it suits ( some would say -so do we) so they will never criticise. Anyway-saying dictatorships are bad is a bit daft in their case.

    I have just read an interview with a captured/wounded tank crew member from the ones which attacked Ajdabiya yesterday.

    He says , amongst other things :-

    They were not allowed any communications media in barracks.
    They were told Mossad had taken over the town.
    They had to wipe out every person-adults & children, because they were all crazed on drugs & alchohol & would all fight to the death.
    THey were to fire on every building, including hospitals.”

    Let’s not forget that the U.S. was just fine selling weapons to both sides in World War I before we were forced to get involved. Most recently (until we canceled the order), we were actually going to complete a huge arms deal with the Libyans. So I don’t oppose trade. But I do think it’s wrong to back those who kill their own people. It’s one thing to trade with people who are less than savory characters, it’s quite another to get angry when they kill their own people and other powers decide to intervene.

    Now Russia and China have both demonstrated that they will slaughter scores of their own people if they feel it’s neccessary. See, e.g., Russia’s shelling of Grozny, the Tianemen Square Massacre. I can understand their reasons for not liking the idea of that countries that do this to their own people could be subject to international action. With that said, they pretty much have free reign to do as they please because they have massive, powerful armies (especially China) and nuclear weapons. There’s a reason why there was no western intervention in the 1968 Prague Spring and the 1956 Poland and Hungary uprisings. There was sadly nothing we could do about it. So unaffected by this recent turn of events, the Russian and Chinese devotion to slaughtering citizens and the crushing of self-determination is irritating to say the least.

    As to what that tank crew member said, I think it just demonstrates the risk of not intervening. Protesters with signs and homemade weapons are helpless against tanks, artillery, and bombers. Some of the Libyan soldiers have been defecting and mutinying because they won’t attack their own people. But paid mercenaries brought in by Ghadaffi are not like that and they will follow the orders to murder everyone in their sites.

  18. Egypt and Libya are very different stories. Egypt was a peaceful revolution the media could interview families in Egypt prosperous and not so properous. whether they get what they wanted is a different matter. Internet, facebook did play a part.
    Libya is not a facebook or internet country. The rebel ‘leader’ was a Gadaffi supporter until a few weeks ago. The TV scenes are full of ranting civilians a very different media picture. Very few women seen on the rebel side because Libya is so different from Egypt. Could not the media show us “normal” families.
    The end game is totally unclear.
    The four Tornado aircraft we sent 3000 miles with five refueling stops –so little and political in so many ways. The ships were to be decomissioned, a Tornado squadron will go and all the Harriers. The U.S. are using Harriers
    I wish our armed forces well though and hope this is not overstetch
    I expect some military will be looking for changes to the SDR.
    I hope the voices of the ordinary citizen in Libya will be heard in the end.

  19. Social Liberal and Old nat

    The SNP have always been adicted to United Nations mandates. Therefore they were anti Kosovo (no mandate), pro initial intervention in Afghanistan (legal on self defence) , anti Iraq ( no mandate) and now pro Lybia (clear mandate).

    You may agree or diagree with this approach but they have always held to a UN line through thick or thin.

    Well done to them.

  20. @Amber,

    The convoy that was hit may well have been moving away from Benghazi, but it was moving towards Ajdabiya, another rebel held town that had been under bombardment by Gadaffists for several days.

    There simply isn’t sufficient evidence to support the allegations you make. If the Gadaffists are the victims of this, why do they not allow journalists to report on what is happening in the areas they control? We are reliant on a stream of social networking-based citizen journalism, which is by nature totally unreliable and untestable.

    One thing I think we can say with some certainty is that the spokesmen for Gadaffi are not in the business of telling the truth about what is going on. They are very reminiscent of good old Comical Ali. So far the “official” information from the rebels (insofar as such a thing exists) has not contained anything like the same degree of complete faleshood.

  21. @ Peter Bell

    Gaddafi’s history, the early scenes of unarmed people demonstrating in the streets of Tripoli and being shot down……..
    ——————————————————–
    And what of Ted Heath? Did ‘his’ army shoot down unarmed protestors in Ireland? I think they did. Did we hold Ted Heath personally responsible? I think we did not.

    I also do not think it is helpful to reduce complex situations to the level of fairy tales & homilies.
    8-)

  22. SoCalLiberal

    “Now Russia and China have both demonstrated that they will slaughter scores of their own people if they feel it’s neccessary.”

    What was the death toll in your Civil War?

  23. @Amber,

    There have been days in the history of Gadaffi’s Libya when more people have been killed by the security forces than British troops/police killed in Ireland in 30 years. Four times as many, for example, killed at Abu Salim Prison than were killed by the British – and that’s including all those killed by the British Army / RUC who were actively involved in terrorism (which is most of them).

    It seems to me you grade “events” based on how strongly they feature in your political mythology rather than on their true scale. And you talk about fairy tales?

  24. @ Neil A

    I want the international community to get on with monitoring & verifying a cease-fire by both sides.

    If Gaddafi is asking that they do this, what right have the international community to refuse? There is no room for judging which side we prefer. It is absolutely clear in international law: The UN representatives must remain impartial.

    And Gaddafi must trust them. He has probably heard many say the end-game is to remove him. That they wish to build a case against him for crimes against humanity. He has undoubtedly seen Sadaam Hussain hanged.

    But he is asking that the UN help to enforce & monitor a cease-fire. The international community ought to meet this request. If we do not, we are not complying with our own resolution which seeks, first & foremost, a cease-fire for the benefit of civilians.
    8-)

  25. @ Neil A

    And you talk about fairy tales?
    ——————————-
    Actually, it was Peter Bell who talked about fairytales.
    8-)

  26. @Amber,

    If you truly believe that Gadaffi’s call for a ceasefire, or his call for monitors to come to Libya, are anything more than a gambit to buy sufficient time to end the rebellion before the international community can get it’s act together, then I have to say you’re bizarrely naive.

  27. @ Neil A

    It seems to me you grade “events” based on how strongly they feature in your political mythology rather than on their true scale.
    ————————————————
    You are a policeman. Gaddafi is guilty until proved innocent. That is your, very necessary, mindset.

    I would like to see an actual case built against him & tested in court but Resolution 1973 is not an arrest warrant, Neil.

    The UN mandate depends on the UN remaining impartial & achieving a cease-fire before promoting negotiations to bring about a political settlement.
    8-)

  28. “Hard cases make bad law”

    I don’t have a problem with a settled international law which allows the international community to intervene in the affairs of sovereign states where they are in breach of human rights.

    The number of times that the UK Labour Government were stopped from taking actions that the Council of Europe considered inappropriate in terms of reasonable behaviour is pretty good evidence that societies need protection against their Governments from time to time.

    I would have little problem with the UN resolution if it weren’t that Cameron et al have been urging regime change.

    I don’t like what I know of the Libyan Government, but I don’t like what I’ve seen of the UK Government(s) during my lifetime. External demands for regime change in the UK are not appropriate, however.

  29. I shall ignore your slur on the professionalism of my Office.

    I am impartial too. But there are two strands to policing. Investigation, and protection. If someone is raining blows down upon the head of another, my first responsibility is to stop him doing it. Only then do I investigate what was happening and why.

  30. @Amber

    “I want the international community to get on with monitoring & verifying a cease-fire by both sides.

    If Gaddafi is asking that they do this, what right have the international community to refuse? ”

    Amber,
    In theory I would agree with you but do you really believe:-

    1) that such observers would be allowed free reign to go wheresoever they wished – reporters certainly have been kept out of areas where Gaddafi has regained control.
    2) would said reporters be safe.
    3) assuming points 1 & 2 are overcome, what would stop Gaddafi miliia in plain clothes continue to murder innocent civilians who they believe are anti-Gaddafi.

    In short, I just don’t trust Gaddafi – he has done nothing to earn trust. In fact he contradicts himself so often why should we believe anything he says.

    Re your comment about Ted Heath. Unless you have evidence to the contrary, I would suggest that at no time did he command UK troops to go out and kill unarmed protestors. What you refer to was unacceptable but imo was the result of soldiers reacting very badly to the situation they found themselves in and in no way can be compared to the situation in Libya where, for example, Gaddafi ordered the execution of 1200 unarmed prisoners.

  31. @Oldnat,

    I’d like to see you have that conversation with a room full of the victims of Gadaffi’s regime. The UK has done some bad things. People working for the UK have done some really bad things. If you go back far enough (say, the 1950s and before) you might even find things the UK has done that are in the same ball park as what Gadaffi’s regime has done. But I think you trivialise the political repression in Libya by comparing it with much lesser things elsewhere.

  32. @ Neil A

    ….then I have to say you’re bizarrely naive.
    ———————————————-
    Then I am not alone in my naivete.

    The UN resolution demands a cease-fire. One side in a conflict cannot unilaterally cease-fire or they will be killed by the other side!

    The rebels publicly admitted that they did not cease-fire in response to UN Resolution 1973. Because like you, Neil, they are “not naive”. Fair enough. But the naive UNSC demands a cease-fire from both sides. Like it or not, that is the position.

    Of course, the military interventionists may choose not to respect this part of the UN Resolution. They may prefer to take the populist approach that you & Colin seem to prefer.

    I consider your approach to be rather short-sighted. IMO, It will damage the authority of the UN & have serious consequences in the longer-term.
    8-)

  33. Peter Bell et al

    So, how many people over how long a period of time, does a regime have to kill/torture for intervention to be appropriate?

    If you can’t answer that, then any intervention has to be based entirely on politics.

    That’s fine – if you are honest about that, and not pretending that the concern is simply humanitarian.

  34. I’m terribly sorry that I was right two days ago, when the resolution came out. Quite typical – saw it too many times since 1956…

    Simply, the UK enters the war for French interests (who set up a puppet government (the liberation council) in order to intervene) in combination with some bad feeling in the British political elite. Very similar to Suez, when the British, the French and the Israelies planned the pretext. Now, the liberation council (who, by the way, just power hungry nobodies) is the pretext and drags in the UK.

    Gaddafi was a nasty piece of work – good for another excuse for extending geopolitics.

    Hardly a defensible stance for the posters here – except if they come out openly – NATO decided that it would overthrow Gaddafi and uses some angry teenagers as pretext and it’s OK.

    Nevertheless, it’s hardly likely to create popularity – there is too much debate…

  35. @ Neil A

    I shall ignore your slur on the professionalism of my Office.
    —————————————————
    It wasn’t intended as a slur. I think you have said that you approach every person with equal suspicion of wrong-doing until the likeliest suspect emerges.

    You then gather evidence with a view to proving the suspect is guilty. If you find evidence that s/he is not, you do not conceal or conspire to conceal it.

    But you do begin each case with the suspicion that a person could very well be guilty of the crime you are investigating.
    8-)

  36. ” External demands for regime change in the UK are not appropriate, however.”

    Old Nat,
    they are not appropriate for the simple reason that the UK government is not knowingly causing the death of any individual unlike the Gaddafi government.
    Surely it is obvious that if he is allowed to remain then there will be tens of thousands of murders in Libya.
    Can we stand by and allow this to happen when it is probable we could prevent it.

  37. Neil A

    Now you have disappointed me.

    I never expected a policeman to make a judgement as to action simply based on degrees of nastiness. Are you one of those police who ignore domestics or harassment of the vulnerable because they aren’t serious enough to warrant your attention?

    I’d like to see you have that conversation in Craigmillar with the victims of “minor” crime.

    International law needs to be strengthened to deal with inhumane actions by Government. Note “law” – not a selective response to whatever happens to be in the news at the time.

  38. Peter Bell

    “the UK government is not knowingly causing the death of any individual”

    Whether they are at this particular moment, I have no idea.

    That they have done so in the past, and plan to do so in the future is incontrovertible.

    Why do you have a problem with defining the limits of what a state can do before international intervention is appropriate.

    That’s what law is for. If you want arbitrary intervention for political reasons, that’s fine. Just be honest about it.

  39. @Old Nat
    “So, how many people over how long a period of time, does a regime have to kill/torture for intervention to be appropriate?

    If you can’t answer that, then any intervention has to be based entirely on politics.

    That’s fine – if you are honest about that, and not pretending that the concern is simply humanitarian.

    OldNat,
    The concern is humanitarian however, there is another factor and that is whether you can do anything about it. The degree of atrocity must be measured against the difficulty/problems caused in trying to prevent the atrocity. Someone earlier referred to Russia and China and it is an unfortunate fact that military action against either would not be feasible. Hopefully, in time these governments will come to protect all their citizens.

  40. @Oldnat,

    Yes I am one of those policemen who ignore minor infractions in order to concentrate on more serious things (we call them “Everyone Except Traffic Department”). However, I don’t consider domestics and harassment of the vulnerable to be minor. I wouldn’t stop on my way to a domestic disturbance to give someone a ticket for contravening a “No Right Turn” sign.

    You are essentially making the same argument as Eoin. ie if we can’t solve everything we shouldn’t solve anything.

    @Amber,

    You’re talking about “case theory”. You can develop a case theory and still be impartial. It is a lot like testing a hypothesis in science. I think the whole “someone is innocent until proven guilty” thing is nonsense (or at least those words are utterly misunderstood) but I certainly don’t believe the opposite is true. But if a woman says that a man raped her, then I will strip him of his clothing and swab his bits and pieces. I won’t do that to any men that the woman doesn’t allege to have raped her.

  41. @SocalLiberal

    I was amused with your colourful description of Nicolas Sarkozy in a post on another thread and it’s one that strikes a chord with me too. Interestingly, there is a piece in today’s Observer that suggests we are not alone in our rather dim view of the French leader. Two editors, Nicolas Domenach and Maurice Szafran, have published their off-the-record conversations with Sarkozy in a book called “OFF: What Nicolas Sarkozy Should Never Have Said To Us”. The book portrays him as an “infantile and narcissistic loner” and describes his “obsession with money” and “autocratic selfishness”. Apparently, his domestic popularity is at all time low and this may explain his determination to be seen to be taking a leading and very unFrench-like role in the military implementation of the UN resolution on Libya. As Amber has very powerfully argued, he may be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but this doesn’t augur well for what may turn out to be a long and gruelling campaign that requires steadfastness and grim determination. Is our man Mr Sarkozy made of such stern stuff, I wonder? We will soon find out.

    @Vergilio

    Any news on how Sarkozy’s centre-right party fared in today’s cantonal elections? The polls suggest he was in for a mauling, particularly from the extreme right Front National. The ghost of Le Pen appears to be alive and well.

    @Amber Star

    I tend to agree with you on Gaddafi and the Western intervention. He’s a very bad man, of that there is no doubt, but it isn’t at all clear to me that we can be sure about the true nature and motives of the current insurgency against him or indeed the depths of its popular support. We may be underestimating Gaddafi’s power base, tenacity and wit too and I’m worried about the oxygen of propaganda that we may have now provided him. The flaking away of the Arab League support, so early in the action, is a deeply worrying development.

    Meanwhile, the good despots of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen continue to kill their citizens with the implicit and shameful support of the same nations now bombing Gaddafi.

  42. Peter Bell

    You missed a factor

    “whether there is an advantage to the interventionist by intervening”.

    Humanitarian concerns are constantly manipulated by Governments. Go back to WWI and the UK propaganda stories about German troops raping Belgian nuns.

    The “advantage” in this case is a 3 letter word – and it ain’t “nun”!

  43. Neil A

    You are operating within a system of law. I accept that you need to prioritise, but is that entirely up to your judgment of what matters – or what the law decrees as being more serious?

  44. Amber

    Gaddaffi declared Ceasefire No 1-then attacked Benghazi the next morning causing 94 known deaths.

    There is something which runs through the attitude on the Left to Gaddaffi which I am failing to understand.He has gained some sort of deep loyalty -and I don’t know why.There is an agenda which is not being spelt out.

    So I give up trying to discuss this -there is a brick wall there.

    I will do my best to garner the evidence available to me on the issue on my side of it.

  45. “The “advantage” in this case is a 3 letter word – and it ain’t “nun”!”

    Old Nat,
    This argument has been used frequently and to be honest I don’t understand it. IMO by supporting the opposition in the Arab and North African countries we are more likely to reduce our access to oil. Like it or not (and frankly I don’t like it) our “friendship” with leaders of these countries is beneficial to us in terms of access to oil. Who knows what the situation will be if the new governments in these countries are less friendly. However, I am prepared to accept this for the sake of democracy and humanity.

  46. @Oldnat,

    Constables are Officers of the Crown, and as such are granted discretion to deal with matters as we see fit. There are obvious limits to that, and we can lose our jobs for “neglect of duty” if we exceed those limits.

    But, yes, it is largely up to my judgement “what matters”. I just have to be aware that I may have to justify myself later.

    And incidentally, whether or not we can easily deal with a problem is a major factor as to whether we attempt to deal with it or not.

    If we could catch a criminal by getting a warrant and going round in the morning with four officers to execute it, then we probably will. If catching the same criminal for the same offence involved three weeks of surveillance, £2,000 in payments to informants and a week-long trip to a foreign country to gather evidence then we’d probably “let it go”.

    Often when the police are accused of “not doing something” it is because although there may be something we could have done, the solutions wouldn’t have been proportionate to the problem.

  47. Peter Bell

    I thought it was fairly obvious. The West makes a judgement call as to whether intervention in an oil producing state , in support of or against the existing regime, is likely to enhance or reduce their access to the oil reserves.

    Such a policy of self-interest is comprehensible (though hardly admirable).

    Intervention in parts of the former Yugoslavia is an exception to the oil issue (but they were all white, not brown).

  48. @ Peter Bell

    “we are more likely to reduce our access to oil.”

    Not necessarily – UK helps overthrow Gadaffi, it makes it much easier to say afterwards ‘now, about those oil contracts…’ and get the rebel’s acceptance, than if they don’t help. (Remember that back when the rebels were winning there was a rumour that they would look at contracts signed during Gadaffi’s regime and possible declare them void if they thought they were too exploitative).

    What I suspect is Amber’s worry, re the rebels (my worry as well) is that there’s a danger of replacing a madman with a lunatic.

    @ Neil A, Colin

    To clarify: you both support the Iraq war, yes?

  49. Neil A

    “Often when the police are accused of “not doing something” it is because although there may be something we could have done, the solutions wouldn’t have been proportionate to the problem.”

    Actually, I don’t have a problem with such professional decisions. The same applies in most of my family’s jobs – police, teaching, medicine. (The one exception was the single vet, and the family joke was that he was the only one who could remove his problem by shooting it – the rest of us simply dreamt of that possibility).

    However, that acceptance of professional decision making is based on a shared set of societal values that are enshrined in law – and that body of law took a long time to develop. Additionally, your legal system is rather idiosyncratic.

    Scots Law, which is more attuned with European Law is based on a set of philosophical principles, as opposed to your Common/Statute Law basis.

    That caused huge problems when English Police were sent into Scotland to deal with the miner’s strike. My Police Inspector father-in-law was incandescent about their cavalier approach to legal principles which he took for granted.

  50. @Colin

    “There is something which runs through the attitude on the Left to Gaddaffi which I am failing to understand.He has gained some sort of deep loyalty -and I don’t know why.There is an agenda which is not being spelt out.”

    There’s no hidden agenda at all. The argument is about what strategy is in the best long term interests of all the protagonists in this hellishly complex affair. You mustn’t degrade the arguments of those who disagree with you, or impugn their motives, by suggesting that this is some crude Left v Right debate and that people are adopting default partisan standpoints. That would be as silly as me accusing you and Neil A of unthinking right wing dogma in your attitude to Gaddafi. I’m sure that both of you are approaching this from an entirely humanitarian position and that you have the security and democratic political development of the region uppermost in your minds.

    I also have no doubt that your views of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, presiding as he does over a regime which, according to The Economist’s 2010 Democracy Index, is the seventh most authoritarian from among the 167 countries rated, are as equally condemnatory as those that you have of Gaddafi.

    I take Neil A’s view that just because we can’t intervene everywhere it doesn’t mean that we can’t and shouldn’t intervene somewhere, but our inherent hypocrisy and double standards on what tyrannies we deem to be acceptable or unacceptable fundamentally undermines our moral authority. And moral authority is quite a valuable political and diplomatic resource if you want to be an international policeman, I would have thought.

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