Yesterday’s YouGov poll for the Sun had the first Libya questions since the rebels entered Tripoli. Full tabs are up here.

Public opinion on how well the West’s intervention in Libya and on whether it was right or wrong for the West to intervene have predictably flipped. Support for the West’s intervention had been standing at an August average of 33% thinking it right, 44% wrong – that has flipped to 41% right, 35% wrong. 25% of people had been thinking it was going well, 51% badly – that has flipped to 52% well, 26% badly. 47% of people now think that David Cameron has responded well to the situation in Libya, 33% badly.

If Gaddafi surrenders, 58% want to see him sent for trial at the International Criminal Court, 26% think Libya should try him. If he is found guilty 33% want to see him executed, 49% given life imprisonment. 39% would be happy if Gaddafi was killed in the conflict, 38% would rather he was captured alive so he can be put on trial. Finally on Libya, only 17% of people think we should send in British troops to keep order under the new regime. 38% would be happy to send police advisors, 42% would be happy for us to send emergency cash, food and medical aid.

On the wider impact of the Arab Spring, 23% are more optimistic about the future for the Middle East, 35% are less optimistic. People tend to think events in the Middle East will result in it being more democratic and more respectful of human rights… but also think it will be less peaceful and more vulnerable to terrorism.

162 Responses to “Latest YouGov polling on Libya”

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  1. Chris-Neville Smith,
    “much as I’d like to see the back of the Syrian government, the uprising in Syria isn’t nearly strong enough to bring down the regime, even with Nato air support.)”

    But the UN Charter on Libya was not to bring down the regime, it was to prevent Ghadafi from attacking and killing his own people.
    Exactly what is being done by the Syrian government now.

    I am not sugesting we should bomb Syria but that we should be looking at our double standards.

  2. @chouenlai

    “@R HUCKLE
    The attacks on David Cameron by Labour are nothing to do with a national telepathy of Cameron mistrust. […] Labour have attacked Cameron because he is leader of the Conservative party, can you blame them ? No. The anti wealth, anti public school, anti toff thing, works for their [core vote], but has not really been a success overall.”

    The strategy of all opposition parties is to keep on sowing the seed of doubt about the governments policies and the judgement of ministers. By doing so, they hope to gradually reduce peoples trust in ‘government’ and then turn some of these to vote for them at the election. I don’t think Labour are trying to persuade those from the left to back them using the standard totems that you suggest. I don’t think they need to do this, as government policies and the Lib Dems move to the right is doing this for them.

    My opinion is that Labours agenda is aimed at average people from all parts of the country, trying to do their best to cope with the economic conditions. Whether some of the things they say have any credibility, is open to debate. I am not convinced that Labour have presented any alternative economic policies to the coaltion that add up. e.g Ed Ball recent VAT cut suggestion likely to cost more than any growth benefits produced.

    On the basis that it is difficult for Labour to offer an alternative economic propostion that is seen as credible, I suspect that Labour will look to use slow burner tactics to undermine trust. So you can expect Labour shadow ministers and MP’s to take every advantage to appear in the media, questioning ministers judgements. You can guarantee that this government, same as any other, will create many own goals, for opposition to take advantage of. Being that this is a coaltion, any splits between Tory and LD ministers will be seized upon.

  3. @chrislane1945


    It was lost on me the first time I read it. But yes I see it now.

  4. The Guardian are still sniffing after Coulson:

    Registers held in the Commons archive, seen by the Guardian, reveal that in September 2007 – three months after Coulson was employed by Cameron’s office – the former News of the World editor failed to declare the health insurance, company car and severance payments he was receiving from his old employers.

    The records also show that for at least two months after he resigned from his position as No 10’s head of communications in January this year, Coulson continued to hold a parliamentary pass, sponsored by Downing Street, which allowed him access to parliament as a No 10 employee.

    That will raise new questions about whether Coulson – who Cameron has admitted seeing on a social basis since his resignation – continued to perform an unofficial role for the Tories after he had left.

  5. Hi Anthony

    I can see the names, it was only the first name which was obscured on this particular thread. It can be anything that’s obscured, sometimes your posts – which is why I made the effort to devise a work-around.

    I assume Roger is having a similar issue to me. Part of the page is obscured by a message board saying:

    “The webpage cannot be found
    HTTP 400
    Most likely causes:
    •There might be a typing error in the address.
    •If you clicked on a link, it may be out of date… etc.”

    I can’t find any way to get rid of it.

  6. @Virgilio

    Thank you


    It may simply be that the Americans are simply using “David Cameron” as a standard unit of UK measurement, signifying a “youthful pol with electoral appeal and modernising intent”, much as we use “Wales” (“Belgium is three times the size of Wales”)


    * Geordie walks into a doctor’s.
    * Geordie: “Man, I’ve got a choccy bar stuck in my ear”
    * Doctor: “Does it hurt?”
    * Geordie: “Bound’te”[1]

    h ttp://


    You said “…It was fascinating to me that this gal was freely willing to admit that she only voted based on what she perceived trends to be. I’m sure there are people like that…”

    Yes, they’re called “humans”… :-)

    Less sarcastically, this is how people behave generally: most people are as good (or as bad) as the people around them.

    Regards, Martyn

    [1]: If you have a Newcastle accent, “Bound to” and “Bounty” are homophones

  7. @Alec

    “I vividly remember the days when even to mention that there was no actual evidence that Gordon Brown ate babies was to inspire revulsion on here. Today’s scepticism of all things blue by some really isn’t a patch on what went on back then, and the site is as good as it’s always been, with quality contributors drifting in and out over the months and years.”

    I remember those days too. I started visiting this excellent site in the latter part of 2009, mainly to study polling data as opposed to commenting, but then found the lively and politically diverse debate I discovered irresistible. I’ve been here, on and off, ever since, from the days of Labour trailing by 20% in the polls, through the election debacle of May 2010 to the current day, with Labour now ahead in the polls. This idea that the Conservative leaning posters to this site are a mistreated and persecuted minority is frankly risible. There are some, usually the more intolerant ones, who rail angrily against opposing views whenever they have the misfortune to confront them, but the vast majority of us, of all political hues, appear to be a tolerant, forgiving, intelligent, well-informed and good humoured bunch (most of the time!!).

    Long may this site exist and prosper when the alternative is usually some ghastly forum where like minded bigots pander to, and massage, each others prejudices. Not for me.

  8. No one is a *persecuted* minority, since I don’t allow it – but equally, there are very few posters here with blue backgrounds!

    That’s one of the reasons I discourage even casual and friendly partisanship. I want new people stumbling upon the site to think “Oh, there’s lots of interesting, civil, non-bickering, sort of conversation here, I’ll join in”.

    I don’t want them thinking “Oh, there’s lots of Labour supporters having interesting, civil, non-bickering, sort of conversation here – I wish there was somewhere like that for Tory supporters too”.

  9. Amber – thanks, I know what you mean now. I’ve seen that on IE8, and once on Firefox too (though it vanished when I refreshed.

    I think it might be an advert going wrong.

  10. Alan

    “One interesting point, if Megrahi flees Tripoli without informing Renfrewshire about his position, can we hoik him back for breaching the conditions of his early release?”

    You can find a legal opinion at

  11. “No one is a *persecuted* minority, since I don’t allow it – but equally, there are very few posters here with blue backgrounds!”

    Sort of take your point, Anthony, but why then did you suddenly, without any seeming desire amongst posters to see it appear as a feature of the site, offer people the opportunity to incorporate party political colours in their posts?

    I’m a touch baffled by your comments, I have to say.

  12. There’s an interesting cable from Oct 2009, which predicts a hung parliament.
    It suggests that it was almost impossible for the Tories to win a majority in 2010.

    This was when polling showed (according to the cable) 44/27/18 – resulting in a 100-seat majority.

    It was pretty clear, from the cables, that a coalition with Labour was out of the question, but that the main concerns about a Lib-Con coalition were the loss of support (as many Libdems wouldn’t support a Con coalition) and the risk that the Tories would call for a GE in a short period of time (like 1974) – which may explain the ‘5 year parliament’ agreement.

    Oh, and yougov – 36, 43, 9 with -24 approval, so no change..

  13. @ Bill Patrick

    “Was she a Ukrainian or Russian? Or a Russian from Ukraine? Or a Ukrainian from Russia?”

    Good question. I don’t know exactly. I believe that she was from Eastern Ukraine and may have been an ethnic Russian.

  14. They look nice :)

    Actually, they were always a feature on the constituency guide part of the site – the original thinking was so when people saw a comment on, Peterborough say, from someone saying “I reckon that the Conservatives will win here”, it would probably be useful to know that the person saying it was a Conservative (or a Labour supporter, or whatever. Away from elections the people who comment on the constituency pages are a very partisan lot indeed). Because “rah-rah-rah, party X are shit” comments aren’t allowed, and people *should* be attempting to post in a non-partisan way, their political views *should* not be immediately obvious… yet it is rather useful to know where people are coming from.

    Originally however, I had the site set up as two seperate blogs, even though it was presented to people as a single blog. It would, therefore, havebeen bloody confusing if people had to register twice depending on which part of the site they wanted to comment on. It was *possible* to share a userdatabase between two blogs, but it was bloody complicated, especially for two existing blogs.

    Then WordPress upgraded their software to make support for multiple blogs an integral part of the basic software… and as part of it provided relatively straightforward way of moving two existing blogs onto a single installation. Hence at that point, registering on one site meant registering on both, and the colored comments can appear on both.

  15. “… the headline Con 36%, (-1 from 2010 GE), Lab 43% (+13). LD 10% (-14).

    This shows a *Con-Lab swing of 7%* and a LD-Lab swing of 13.5% – according to the YouGov March 2011 aggregated tables.”

    I’m still genuinely confused by this, and have reposted it tonight in case someone can explain, (also apart from LD scoring 9% tonight, the general YouGov picture seems to be back where it was in March).


  16. The Right-Wrong over Libya has shifted from 41-35 to 39-40, caused by a shift from DKs to ‘wrong’.
    It’ll be interesting to see if this is the start of a shift to a public that is split down the middle, or if it’s just fluctuation.

    Total Well-Total Badly has gone from 52-26 to 54-25.
    No surprise after the scenes at Gadaffi’s compound.

  17. YouGov/Sun results 24th Aug CON 36%, LAB 43%, LD 9%; APPROVAL -24

  18. BillyBob – I don’t understand what you don’t understand about it, otherwise I’d try and help!

  19. @Anthony W

    Thanks for the reply and I understand the reasoning.

    One last thought on your earlier post. On a political website, I think it’s perfectly possible to tick “civil”, “interesting” and “non-bickering” in your check-list of acceptable posting qualities, but are you absolutely sure that you can ever escape some mild partisanship? Might there not be the danger of an inevitable trade off between “partisanship” and “interesting” if the non-partisanship criteria is applied too literally? My only worry about going too far in expelling partisanship is a possible drift to blandness.

  20. “YouGov/Sun results 24th Aug CON 36%, LAB 43%, LD 9%; APPROVAL -24”

    I have to say that, by now, I thought we might have seen a mild bounce for the Conservatives as a result of the crackdown on the arrested rioters in the courts and the recent developments in Libya. The fact that the polls appear impervious to these quite significant and favourable events for the Government somewhat mystifies me.

    Can anybody suggest a likely development that might shift these ruddy polls one way or the other??!!

  21. Alan

    “One interesting point, if Megrahi flees Tripoli without informing Renfrewshire about his position, can we hoik him back for breaching the conditions of his early release?”

    I’m not sure who you consider “we” to be, or how Scotland would “hoik” anyone back from Libya (or wherever), but yes, under those circumstances Megrahi would have broken the terms of his release, and the Scottish Government (presumably) would then need to decide the relevant course of action.

    Given that Ronnie Biggs (released before Megrahi) on compassionate grounds, is still alive (and more importantly, still in England), one wonders why the UK Government (wearing its English hat) didn’t bang him up again long ago.

  22. “Can anybody suggest a likely development that might shift these ruddy polls one way or the other??!!”
    Government Approval seems to be on the rise again – rising approval figures would mean a rise in Tory VI, which perhaps we’re seeing with yesterday’s first 37 since the end of July.
    Perhaps that isn’t happening at all – we’ll see soon. ;)

    I would say that the only thing that could shift the polls in a major way would be a major political scandal – something like ‘hackgate’.

  23. @AW

    The Con-Lab 7% swing since the GE.

    Ok, Lab up 13%, but Con down only 1%… is that a 7% swing?

    LD-Lab swing is 13.5% (LD -14% on the GE – March aggregated have them on 10%).

    Is there a LD-Con swing as well (the tables make no mention of such a thing)?

    Apols if this is a stupid question. ;)

  24. “Can anybody suggest a likely development that might shift these ruddy polls one way or the other??!!”

    Coulson, Brooks and Murdoch going to jail.

  25. “I would say that the only thing that could shift the polls in a major way would be a major political scandal – something like ‘hackgate’.”
    That isn’t saying hackgate will be any more of a scandal – I think any damage done has been done.

    I mean the next scandal, whenever that may be.

  26. Crossbat1 – Price I’m willing to pay! Personally I find partisan posts incredibly dull, it bores me senseless to see a page of comments from Conservative supporters saying how rubbish Labour are or Labour supporters saying how rubbish the Conservatives are. Think of PMQs comments in some other places – there is no need at all to read beyond their name to know what their view of who “won” is.

    Now, I know plenty of other people don’t find them dull, and rather enjoy it. Well, there are plenty of other sites out there that are stuffed full of partisan comment – I am not a jealous blogger, I don’t mind people reading and commenting on other sites behind my back! Problem is partisan comment drives out non-partisan comment – once all “the yah-boo your party stinks” comments appear, the non-partisan comments disappear, and everyone starts posting along partisan lines, defending “their side” and criticising the other – being unwilling to cede a point, or give any ground to those they see as the opposition. It destroys any understanding or meeting of minds.

    My genuine view is that I simply don’t get why people find it so hard. I don’t imagine that people can totally avoid subconcious bias – of course that’s impossible – but I really don’t get why people can’t leave their own personal political preferences at the door and take a detached view. Maybe I’m just odd!

  27. @Billy Bob

    From memory, “Swing” between party Y and party X is Z/2, where Z = (change for party X) minus (change for party Y)

    So in your example,
    * the Con-Lab swing is (+13 minus -1)/2 = 14/2 = 7
    * the LD-Lab swing is (+13 minus -14)/2 = 27/2 = 13.5
    * the LD-Con swing is (-1 minus -14)/2 = 13/2 = 6.5

    It doesn’t necessarily mean that 7% of the vote have moved from Con-Lab, 13.5% from LD to Lab, and 6.5% moved from LD to Con, but it’s a handy way of looking at it.

    (For myself, I hate “swing” and much prefer “vote share now”/”vote share then”)

    Hope that helps, regards, Martyn

  28. Crossbat – it’s August. I warned you all at the start of the month that it’s a quiet month for polls and you all mocked me when the riots started ;)

    Nowt moves in August. To be honest, not much moves things anyway. Baring “events” conference season is the next time I’d expect movement. That’ll shake things up, and things don’t always settle back the way they started afterwards.

  29. Billy Bob- Martyn has described it correctly.

  30. Thank you Martyn (and AW).

    Swing from/to suggests something different to the literal minded, so my error.

    However, general reading of the day-to-day tables suggests there is a real LD-Con switch in voting intention (as well as the much larger LD-Lab… tactical unwind perhaps).

    So some of the Con GE vote share is leaking away (more than the 1%drop) to others/don’t knows etc, but also a possibe appreciable Con to Lab switch; not on the scale that the recent Survation poll (Derby/Derbyshire) suggested… but then again who knows?

    Some (but by no means all) Conservative posters here maintain that all is well as long as their GE vote share holds up, and everything will come right by 2015… but it is not entirely correct that the Tory GE vote share is holding up imo.

    Thanks again for replying to my query.

  31. @ Crossbat

    Can anybody suggest a likely development that might shift these ruddy polls one way or the other??!!
    Yes – how about:
    1. LibDems leave the Coalition; or
    2. GO does another round of QE & Ed Balls uses it to convince the public there really is a magic money tree :-) ; or
    3. DC gets caught having an affair, preferably with Louise Mensch or Rebekah Brooks (there’s a precedent: John & Edwina).
    Any of those would move it, I’d think. ;-)

  32. The stability of the polls makes perfect sense if you follow the following hypothesis.

    I suspect (with no evidence whatsoever) that there never were many folk who would flip between Lab & Con. The LDs were always the sponge that aborbed then lost disaffected-reaffected (should be a word…) supporters as the political mood changed. A swing rightwards would send Lab supporters to the LDs and LD supporters to the Tories.

    Now, the LDs have lost that two-generation-long purpose. VI is hardening as voters realise that they have to pin their colours to a mast rather than abdicate their decision to the whim of the LD decision makers. I suspect that we will see tranquill polls for a good long while, with only slow long-term trend producing changes.

    Unless genuinely cataclysmic political events occur. But remember that the defenestration of the blessed Maggie only led to a 7-8% increase in Tory VI.

    Mind, the fuel protest produced a momentary 10% Lab-to-Con swing and the Leaders’ Debate prodcued a genuine shock in the VI figures, so the defintion of a “cataclysmic political event” is up for grabs I guess…

  33. Billy Bob
    I am still reeling from the ICM poll so all talk of swings seems meaningless until we sort out the difference with YG. AW’s piece gives us about 2% difference max, but not the rest.

    Both are consistent as they report little change from last time a month or so ago.

  34. Crossbat

    “Can anybody suggest a likely development that might shift these ruddy polls one way or the other??!!”

    You’ll have to wait a bit – but how about a referendum on ending the current UK?

  35. Amber
    A touch of late night wishful thinking do I detect? :-)

  36. @ Howard

    A touch of late night wishful thinking do I detect?
    Yes, it’s that subconscious partisanity – I can’t seem to stop myself. :-)

  37. Something that might shift the polls:

    On the money markets, credit default swaps (effectively insurance rates) for a number of European banks have rocketed, signaling that the credit markets believe we are back in 2008 and a credit crisis is imminent. The banks include BNP Paribas and Deutche Bank, so there are some really big fish apparently drowning.

    Weirdly, the equity markets have been recovering, with bank shares rising, so clearly the credit and equity markets are at odds with each other. One other salient point is that CDS prices on RBS loans are now higher than before the state bailout in 2008. This is in itself weird, as effectively the markets are saying state backed RBS is on the point of default.

    Clearly, this isn’t right, so it leads me to think the CDS markets are a bit hyper, but there’s no question that there are massive strains in the European credit markets and many bankers see a 2008 style credit crunch occurring in the next few weeks.

    Would this shift the polls? Crises can sometimes help tried and tested governments and are not always great for oppositions. This might happen again this time, but my worry for the blues would be the fact that we’ve been told consistently that we are ‘out of the danger zone’ etc. Once it becomes that we aren’t, even if it started on distant shores, I wonder if the government position will start to look increasingly shaky.

  38. @leftylampton – “… there never were many folk who would flip between Lab & Con.”

    Does that mean Mondeo/White Van Man/Mumsnet Mum etc were all inventions of the focus groupers?

    Personally, with respect, I never bought the LD party as some kind of necessary way-station for Con/Lab floating voters notion.

    In parts of the country/constituencies with less than total tribal loyalty, and for those who perhaps take a serious interest in politics only around GE time, are swayed by the prevailing media bias/zietgeist, have false recall about how they voted at the last GE perhaps… there must be a sizeable proportion of the electorate who genuinely float (and indeed only make up their mind in the hours or minutes prior to entering a polling booth).

  39. From the women who gave us “polldrums”, now “partisanity”!

    The possibile interepretations of that are endless – starting with whether “san” is equally related to the phonemes on either side! :-)

  40. Amber

    Sorry, I pluralised you!

  41. AW

    What we get on this site when you allow it is intelligent partisanship, especially since you banned the ranters for good. What you get on other sites is tribal silliness which relly is boring.

    I’m interested why Blues are not attracted to this site in the same numbers as Reds – it did cross my mind that this site is a bit too ‘academic’ for them but that would be an unreasonable and, dareI say it, partisan thought.

  42. @Crossbat

    “Can anybody suggest a likely development that might shift these ruddy polls one way or the other??!!”

    The “development” that I suggest is the absence of developments. Hackgate, the riots and now Libya have all served mainly to distract from the main business of the Government’s domestic economic and social agenda. They’ve had little direct effect IMO but have had an indirect one simply by distracting from lots else that is out there.


    “…how about a referendum on ending the current UK?”

    If it were really put in such direct terms (which I doubt) it might indeed do wonders for Labour support in Scotland. Be careful what you wish for.

  43. DavidB

    “I’m interested why Blues are not attracted to this site in the same numbers as Reds”

    I’m interested to know why there are so many Scots (of all persuasions) here.

  44. “I’m interested why Blues are not attracted to this site in the same numbers as Reds – it did cross my mind that this site is a bit too ‘academic’ for them but that would be an unreasonable and, dareI say it, partisan thought.”
    I would guess that it’s because Tory VI has been broadly falling since their ‘post election boost’.
    So less Tory voters wish to engage in discussing ‘bad news’.

    I’d imagine you’d get an inverse effect if Lab started to tumble.

  45. There was never any real chance of the Libya situation helping the government. A real disaster might have harmed it, but success would be taken as a given. The polling actually tipping to ‘Wrong’ on the ‘Right/Wrong’ shows that this is a victory a lot of people want to leave on the orphanage doorstep.

    Actually the change is entirely due to Conservative voters losing their enthusiasm for the military action after the enormous gain last night. Maybe the question order did affect it or maybe it’s morning-after worries.

    Returning to the first poll, what a miserable lot the British public are! You’d thing the overthrow of a hated dictator and the potential spread of democracy in the Arab Spring would be a cause for some rejoicing. Not a bit of it. When asked about “recent events across North Africa and the rest of the Middle East this year” only 23% said they were ‘more optimistic’ about the region and asked about it future only 16% felt it would be ‘more peaceful’, 34% that it would be ‘more democratic’, 20% that it would be more prosperous, 30% that there would be ‘more respect for human rights’, 20% that it would be ‘more friendly to countries in the West’ and only 10% that it would be ‘less vulnerable to terrorism’.

    With regard to what help Britain should provide the battered nation, the best we can offer is “emergency cash, food and medical aid to deal with any immediate shortages following the conflict”. Even this is a tie – 42% for and against (interestingly all three Parties’ voters are in favour, so non-voters must be fairly heavily against).

    And everything else is a no-no. Only 17% for “armed troops to help keep order”, even police advisers only get 38%. Help with reconstruction only gets 19% and more Libyan students at UK universities (which would make the UK money) only 14% – presumably worries about not enough places for Brits. Lib Dems are always the most enthusiastic to help and I suspect non-voters the least. Presumably some of this must be due to the perception that Libya is a rich country and some to the relentless campaign against Cameron’s pledge to not cut overseas aid. However it must be mainly due to the public being convinced that Britain is a poor indebted country that can’t afford anything.

  46. DavidB

    If Anthony explicitly allowed “intelligent partisanship” the gates of hell really would open. Imagine trying to persuade people their partisanship wasn’t intelligent enough. :P

  47. Billy Bob,

    I’m putting forward a hypothesis. That, for the first time in many, many years, the old question “which side are you on?” effectively has two answers, not two-plus-a-non-answer (Scotland excepted of course)

    One of the resulting outcomes of this hypothesis would be that big political events (Hackgate, Libya) wouldn’t signifincantly affect VI today in the same way that they would have done when the LDs were still a harmless sponge.

    The fact that this outcome has occurred is no proof of the veracity of the hypothesis of course. But any alternative hypothesis has to explain the current lack of even small shocks in VI, when we have seen these on a regular basis in the years and decades before the LDs joined Govt.

  48. Miserly curmudgeons, the lot of us…

  49. @ Martyn

    “Yes, they’re called “humans”…

    Less sarcastically, this is how people behave generally: most people are as good (or as bad) as the people around them.”

    Yeah I know. I mean it’s like watching the bandwagon sports fans who become hardcore fans of whoever is about to win a championship. And obviously there are people in politics who like to vote for whoever they think is winning the race. But you kinda like to think people have the capacity to think for themselves and make a decision not based solely on who they think others are going to vote for.

  50. LeftyLampton

    “the old question “which side are you on?” effectively has two answers”

    It’s true in Scotland as well – just that the answers aren’t the same as in England, and neither are the questions. You boringly ask only one question, while we have at least two questions to consider! :-)

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