YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun is out. Topline voting intention figures are CON 36%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9% so there is no sign of any major impact from the Libya conflict.

The poll was conducted between Sunday evening and this afternoon, so has some of the first real measures of attitudes towards the Libya bombing. I’ll post properly tomorrow, but from the figures the Sun have released so far, 45% of people say Britain, the US and France are right to take military action against Libya, 36% think it is wrong.

UPDATE: There is also a ComRes poll that shows almost the exact opposite. ComRes found 35% agreed with the statement “It is right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in Libya”, but 43% disagreed. The YouGov question asked “Do you think Britain, France, the US and other countries are right or wrong to take military action in Libya?” – the two obvious differences are that the ComRes question mentioned Gaddafi (which shouldn’t have this effect – in 2003 questions that mentioned Saddam by name always showed higher support for the Iraq war!), and that YouGov presented it as a joint attack by the US, France and the UK, while ComRes only mentioned the UK.

62 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – public support attacks on Libya by 45% to 36%”

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  1. Latest government approval minus 22 (32% approve, 54% disapprove)

    Interesting numbers on Libya….

  2. Anthony,

    I dont know the fieldwork dates but it could be that the dudes who answered your poll had heard of Murphy’s Liberal Interventionism stuff and realised Labour Support it..

    Hypothetically if the ComR bunch were a bit slow on the uptake due to older fieldwork dates, maybe they still think that Nuu Labour is dead. [flippant but you know what I mean]

  3. Is it possible that our wonderful general public, who don’t necessarily follow things so meticulously as us, were confused by the ComRes question and read into it an implication that the UK could/would act on her own?

    Perhaps including other countries in the question makes people realise that it’s a joint effort?

  4. Comres questions about support for action that would put UK soldiers at risk, suggests opinion could turn sharply if things become problematical (from a UK perspective).

  5. Libya vote 557 -13

  6. Phew, that was close…

  7. I think people are looking for a quick job, help the rebels overthrow Gaddafi, get them to set up some sort of transitional government and all back to normal ASAP. I’m not sure it will be that easy, and I also wonder if many people realise that the nature of some of these “rebels” (islamic extremists, etc) might make the future less clearly better than now.

  8. YouGov: “… and other countries”

    None as yet.

    ComRes: 50% think their personal economic situation will worsen (+5% on last month) while 36% think it will improve.
    A possible bottoming out of pessimism on questions about prospects for the broader ecomomy though.

  9. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

  10. I thought the Spanish were already operational? With the Canadians, Qataris, Norwegians and Danish about to join?

  11. Eoin – ComRes was done between Friday and Sunday, YouGov was done between Sunday and Monday, so the YouGov data is slightly newer.

  12. On VI – it seems to me that this 6 or 7 point Labour lead is its true position, apart from when there is a real focus on some negative news for the coaltion (tuition fees, NHS break-up mayhem stories) – then there is a blip into double figures. But when the dust settles and the attention shifts it returns to the same 6 or 7 point lead.

    I can’t see that changing unless there is a major change in political or economic mood caused by, for example 1/ an official return to recession, 2/ major boost economic outlook heralded by a golden budget, 3/ a major collapse in the coalition caused by a resignation or a vote lost in a rebellion (NHS perhaps)?

    Until then I still think Labours numbers are soft (consistent but soft) – as do Balls and Mandelson.

  13. Small comment on the previous south-west poll.

    It doesn’t get any better for Lib Dems does it? I thought they may fair better down there (being the only alternative to Tories) but they will get massacred even worse down there.

    Although judging by how some Lib Dems are behaving, they will take 9 losses to the Tories as simply swapsies between buddies.

  14. Anthony,

    I reckon that made the difference.. it wasn’t until Sunday that Murphy said he was in favour in the right circumstances of targeting Gaddafi etc…

    I have put in graphical form a) a poll of polls between the two and b) the juxtaposition between that and how our MPs voted.

  15. TGB
    Is this a total misrepresentaion of anything JM said?

  16. The ComRes question is just ambiguous. “It is right for the UK to take military action against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in Libya”, suggests the UK forces would also be in Libya. Where else would would Colonel Gaddafi’s forces be except Libya? Gretna Green? Neasden?

    The ComRes panel just answered the question they were asked, not what ComRes thought they had asked. Actually this is a ‘fault’/advantage of on-line polling. People can’t ask for elucidation, but do have time to study what the questions really were.

  17. You could easily ask the following
    ‘do you agree with the decision of the United Nations to take action to protect innocent civilians in Libya?’

    It’s no good asking different questions and the comparing the results as if they were the same poll.

  18. @Roger Mexico – ” …in Libya”

    Perhaps it is just providing context, like saying “Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa’s forces in Bahrain”.

  19. @Adrian B
    Given that the Government’s net approval rating has reached its highest since the start of Feb (the giddy heights of -22), I’m really (pleasantly) surprised to see the Cons still 7% behind tonight. So maybe the Lab lead isn’t that soft after all…… (touch wood).

    (PS. Balls is OK. But it’s really difficult to take the Prince of Darkness seriously nowadays, not that much he said should ever have been taken at face value. To quote Miliband “a writer not a quitter”.)

  20. Also ComRes goes on to ask a separate question about situations in which UK soldiers could be put at risk.

  21. I suspect (as with polling on Iraq) we could see initial reluctance, then an adrenaline surge, followed by a fall off in support. Perhaps on a more compressed time scale with Libya.

  22. @ Éoin

    My son contacted our MP during the speeches i.e. before the vote – mainly because I was having a meltdown about the arms embargo.

    Our MP, who voted against the Iraq invasion, responded (before he voted) that Ed Miliband & D Alexander have been very definite about not supporting anything that isn’t clearly within Resolution 1973.

    I’m inclined to trust our MP’s word on this, at least for now.

  23. @KeithP

    You make a resounding argument and a very good point. We still do not know the true intentions of some of the rebels and what the rebels in want in return for controlling Libya. Yes, some and possibly the majority want to become a secular democracy but it is usually the vocally strong minority, the Islamic extreminist that could influence the decision. Look at Afgahanistain after the Soviets left, it was American money that financed and built the Taliban.

    I personally think it is still too early and with lack of information to go to support the rebels with arms or heavy-handed military intervention although I agree in principal of a no-fly zone.

    History shows that Libya have deep resentment of the US bombings in 1986 and personally I cannot see airstrikes changing the situation other than the rebels in the East of Libya will have more control of that terrority. So that leaves the West sending in ground forces which in the end will see the radical Islamic extreminist win or more mobile like in Afghanistain now. America wont want that so come 2 weeks I think all operations will be off and plans could be draw to split libya in two (due to the suprisenly strong support for Gaddafi).

  24. Howard, the United Nations did not take a decision to take action, a coalition of countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty have done so.

    SOME states of the UN Security Council approved resolution 1973 which allowed member states who wish to take actions to enforce demands laid down in resolutions 1970 and 1973 to do so.

  25. Billy Bob

    Oh I agree ComRes were just providing extra context – it’s just that it leads to the implication that British troops would actually be in Libya (rather than flying a long way overhead). Probably some respondents read it like that, while others assumed from the present tense of the question that the current policy of just enforcing the no-fly zone was what was meant. I’m sure we’ve all managed to make things muddier, while trying to make them clearer.

    From the way that most on-line questionnaires operate, I would imagine that this question would have been answered before the later ones clarified the meaning of the various option.

  26. There was a CNN poll today that found 83% of Americans support the action in Libya but the question was phrased differently. It was asked “do believe it is an important priority of the United States to protect Libyan civilians?” 44% answered “very important”, 39% answered “somewhat important.” 17% answered “not important.”

  27. Here is a chilling blast from the past. I’m sure that Cameron and Goldie will be absolutely delighted with this un-tipped resurrection. Get out your garlic, crucifixes, silver bullets and sturdy stakes folks. This could get bloody.

    ‘Scotland must vote on this tax time bomb’
    – A Bill requiring the Scottish Parliament to set income tax could tear the Union apart, argues Michael Forsyth (Secretary of State for Scotland 1995-97)

  28. @ Eoin

    “I dont know the fieldwork dates but it could be that the dudes who answered your poll had heard of Murphy’s Liberal Interventionism stuff and realised Labour Support it..”

    Maybe. I’m not sure that many people would know who he is or pay close attention to him given that he’s in opposition.

    I happen to like his stances on liberal intervention. It’s not a return to the Bush Doctrine but a response to it and the failure of Iraq. I think that Obama thinks largely along the same lines or at least has demonstrated it during this Libya situation.


    “I reckon that made the difference.. it wasn’t until Sunday that Murphy said he was in favour in the right circumstances of targeting Gaddafi etc…”

    I’m not sure that he said that. I just read his blog and he said in a post:

    “Gaddafi is a tyrant, but it is up to the people of Libya to decide what happens next in their country and not for any single foreign government. Our government needs to have one clear policy on this.”

  29. @ Stuart Dickson

    “Here is a chilling blast from the past. I’m sure that Cameron and Goldie will be absolutely delighted with this un-tipped resurrection. Get out your garlic, crucifixes, silver bullets and sturdy stakes folks. This could get bloody.”

    If the people feel they’re being taxed too highly, can’t they vote to get rid of their taxes or elect politicians who will bring the tax rates lower? Isn’t that the whole point of devolution? You get your own choice in deciding your own affairs?

  30. Further to my two posts (based on a BBC report) about what would happen to government supporters who have been hiding in their houses for the last few weeks in Benghazi:

    It is being reported this morning that “sleeper units are now choosing this time to come out and are being hunted down.”

    I have also seen rumours that non-Arab African families are being removed from the city.

  31. The net Gov (dis)approval has held broadly steady after its sudden and sharp surge from -30% to -22%. Ok this is just two YG polls but IMO suggest that the Gov have benefited from the Libya factor.

    There doesn’t however seem to be any obvious gain for the LDs in VI from this factor.

    And has the Cons VI marginally increased?

    It is possible to argue that Gov (dis)approval or improves but VI is largely unaffected.

  32. last sentence should read:

    “It is possible to argue that Gov (dis)approval improves but VI is largely unaffected.”

  33. Billy Bob
    As usual, and in contrast to many on here, I was referring to the conduct of polling and the interpretation of its results, not the issue. The only reason moderation here has not been used, for many days now, is presumably that the moderator does not detect a partisan angle.

    But what any of you think about how resolution 1973 should be viewed interests me not one iota.

    Why should you be interested in my view? What makes you think I would be interested in yours?

  34. There’s been repeated mentions of Lab VI lead being ‘soft’.

    I can’t argue with that. Indeed if there were a GE say in May IMO Lab would poll much less than 43% – probably about 35%.

    However, all VI movements (and therefore leads) are intrinsically ‘soft’.

    This offers some succour to LDs of course that over time they can (re)attract disaffected/disillusioned voters.

  35. @Roger Mexico – “From the way that most on-line questionnaires operate… ”

    After giving a negative to the first question (in Libya) any repondent who was under a misapprehension would have been able to change their answer to that question after reading the secondary question (UK service personnel at risk). More answered negatively to the second than the first.

  36. Sorry Howard, one poster did ask me for more details about this story (which I was un able to provide at the time).

  37. A good [heck a great] opportunity for any Tory seeking a career change

  38. @ Phil,

    I think Labour’s lead is a bit like a playdough tower. It hasn’t really had any weight put on it, and could quickly disappear when the attention turns to the opposition, their policies, etc. At the moment the Labour lead is quite a bit about the anger towards the coaltion, approval of their performance. We have not yet got into the territory of people making a choice over two competing visions for govt.

    Then we’ll see how hard the lead is. But like a playdough tower, if the lead remains strong for long enough, it may well harden up.

  39. @ Howard,

    Ahhh … the old “who’s interested in your view anyway” post. The last refuge of a person who is intensely bothered about the views of others.

  40. Actually, there is another difference. One poll asks whether it’s “right”, and the other whether it’s “right or wrong”, which sounds more moral. I could imagine that some people think that it is (morally) right to take action, but that it is not right that the UK is doing it – at the same time.

  41. Rune

    In which case they are very morally confused individuals.

    Or downright insular/selfish. Take your pick.

  42. There seems to be some confusion about whether borrowing is higher or lower than expected.

    Yesterday the Chancellor had a windfall, today it’s become a bigger than expected leap in borrowing.

    Inflation is pretty straightforward though.

    Yesterday I caught the news headlines on Smooth Radio. Apparently “Some soldiers are to get a payrise!” They went on to say that soldiers earning under £21,000 would get an extra £250 per year.

    No mention was made of everybody else’s pay being frozen.

    It’s pretty diffilcult to tiptoe through the buried mines of misinformation to find out what’s going on.

  43. Amazed to see the British public once again falling for the “we need to act militarily” line.

    Iraq must be a distant memory for most…

  44. @Mike N

    I think you are wrong on Labour vote softness- The 42% represents both the core labour vote of around 30% plus the lib-dem anti-Tory vote. Whilst these voters may not enthuse about Labour, short of a catastrophic loss of confidence in their leadership – unlikely- or some miraculous economic recovery – virtually imposible then this will be the minimum vote Labour gets all the way to 2015 – almost regardless.

    It is not a reflection of Labour’s strength, merely a coalescing of votes on the political left who have no home in the Lib-dems at all.

    In fact if this experiment fails, and as the fuller picture of the recession and collapse in banking becomes the dominant – as it is the true reason- motif for the economic malaise we find ourselves in – rather than the mantra of Labour’s irresponsible spending, then Labour’s prospects can only improve.

    They were of course responsible for being part of the same monetary and banking system which led to the collapsein the Uk – but everyone knows that no other party would have done it any differently – indeed some like the SNP and Tories would have had systems with even less regulation.

    I think therefore that far from being inflated or soft the present polls are actually at or around base level for Labour – who have actually been pretty invisible for the last year as regards presenting a coherent and credile opposition.

    The soft vote Mandelson talks of, at this point in time is actually not indicating any intention to vote Labour – and is sticking with the coalition.

  45. I tend to agree with ICEMAN.

    As far as I can see immediately the coalition was formed, or very soon after, the anti-Tory vote fled the LDs to Lab.

    The only thing that MIGHT take them back would be if they bring down the Government. But that would be pretty risky because it’s a big “might”.

    There is little chance that any sort of recovery will be strong enough to persuade 2010 anti-Tories to vote Tory. Ever.

  46. The British People are less supportive of the Libyan intervention than they were of the Iraq invasion in 2003.

    Support for Iraq was net +13% [YG]
    Support for Libya is net +9% [YG]

  47. For anyone terribly worried about the crew of the downed US warplane… they have been rescued.


    I certainly hope that you’re right and that the increased Lab vote holds into the next GE (whenever it is).

    However, I do think it would be very difficult for Lab to hold the current level of VI if there were to be a GE say in May. But almost paradoxically I see Lab holding this level (at least) in the May local elections.

    One of the big problems for Lab at the mo is the mantra “it’s all Lab’s fault”. Whether that will continue to have any impact the further we get into this parliament we’ll have to wait and see.

  49. (Off thread, but in anticipation of the imminent ICM monthly poll)

    The inconsistency between the recent ICM and YouGov polls for the Scottish Parliament elections seems once again to be in part due to the ICM habit of reallocating DK/Refusals. Here are the ICM figures before and after the adjustment, with the YouGov figures for comparison:

    ICM (headline)
    Holyrood constituency: CON 12%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, SNP 35%
    ICM (before DK/Refusal adjustment)
    CON 12%, LAB 41%, LDEM 7%, SNP 35%

    Holyrood constituency: CON 10%, LAB 41%, LDEM 6%, SNP 38%

    So ICM’s assumptions turned 7% declared votes for the LDs into 10%. Quite a jump.

    Note that in Scotland, for the Holyrood elections a lot of the 2010 GE LD voters seem to be switching to the SNP rather than Lab, so while it’s difficult to see Lab picking up many DK/Refuse former LD voters in Scotland whatever the reallocation method, the SNP might feel a bit hard done by the standard ICM treatment. Another reason to doubt the method in this specific context is that it assumes that UK general election voting in Scotland can act as the basis for guiding reallocations for Scottish Parliament voting, when allegiances in the two differ – that is, generally the SNP seem to do much better in the latter.

  50. @ Nick Poole

    The only thing that MIGHT take them back would be if they bring down the Government. But that would be pretty risky because it’s a big “might”.
    Then we wouldn’t mind the Dem support reutning to them. They’d be in coalition with us (Labour), so we’d be getting the benefit of their votes anyway ;-)

    I will now sit back & await the storm of protest.

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