The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%, showing the six point Labour lead that has been typical in YouGov polls of late. As well as regular trackers, today’s poll also has some questions on Syria and on the whole Edward Snowden, GCHQ, David Miranda, Guardian affair.

There is still minimal support for any intervention in Syria (if anything there is slightly less support than when YouGov asked the same questions back in May). While 77% would support sending humanitarian supplies to civilians in Syria and 41% would support sending protective clothing to troops fighting against Assad, a majority would oppose any other type of intervention – 58% would oppose sending small arms to the rebel troops, 74% would oppose sending British troops in Syria itself (just 9% would support military intervention on the ground).

A batch of questions on Edward Snowden and GCHQ show people pretty evenly divided on the principle of GCHQ’s behaviour, 41% think it is right that GCHQ should be able to listen into internet and communication data, 45% think it’s wrong. People are still split on whether the Guardian was right to publish stories about it – 40% think it right, 45% think it is wrong.

As the questions move onto the government and security services’s response, the destruction of the Guardian’s hard drives and the holding of David Miranda at Heathrow the balance of opinion moves slightly towards the security services. In questions about the Guardian hard drives people are, on balance, supportive off their destruction – by 54% to 23% they think it was sensible, by 41% to 34% they reject the idea it was pointless. Finally on the question of David Miranda’s treatment at Heathrow airport, 46% think the police were right to use anti-terrorism laws to detain David Miranda, 36% that they were wrong. 49% think it was a sensible use of powers to protect national security, 34% think it was a misuse of powers to interfere with legitimate journalism.

Also in today’s Sunday papers was an ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph. The Telegraph article doesn’t make it clear, but I think this is actually one of ICM’s “wisdom index” polls (that is, rather than asking people how they would vote they ask people to guess what the percentages will be at the next election and average them) – the figures look more like ICM’s wisdom polls than their regular polls, and ICM don’t do standard voting intention online. For the record the poll has the Conservatives on 30%, Labour on 32%, Lib Dems on 16%, UKIP on 12%.

There is also an Angus Reid Scottish poll in the Sunday Express, already well written up by John Curtice here, which found current referendum voting intention standing at YES 34%, NO 47%.

366 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 38, LD 10, UKIP 13”

1 3 4 5 6 7 8
  1. Isaac

    They will be used on Iran next, they hate the heretics in Iran more than the satans in the west, we will give them guns etc and they will pose as Iranian freedom fighters, wash, rinse repeat

  2. @norbold

    Interesting point you raise about Suez… though Gaitskell repeatedly warned Eden about going it alone (with France and Israel), and promised support only if the US (and UN) were on board.

    It was certainly a watershed moment for the UK.
    A article gives one effect of Suez: “Britain learned that it could not be insubordinate to the United States…”

  3. Obviously a very complicated question, as all on this site are already aware.

    Historically the Conservatives generally wished only to intervene when British interests were directly threatened, while Liberals and then Labour have often been tempted to support the underdog, depending who was involved. Labour had a large pacifist minority, while the Conservatives have had a smaller but significant group of isolationists who wanted to keep out of wars.

    All will have their views, and my own is that use of chemical weapons is an atrocity. Perhaps Parliament should be recalled (as a good precedent apart from anything else) and if war is called then a national government should be considered.The Americans I suppose will make the final decision on any action.

    In keeping with this thread I have strayed a little from polls, and I will be only too relieved to get back to normal political life and discussion.

  4. Alister1948

    We don’t do ‘wars’ we do ‘conflicts’ to try and get round those pesky conventions.

    Chemical weapons are an atrocity, but so are high explosive ‘bunker-buster’ bombs and those based on depleted Uranium so I think we should try and avoid to much differentiation.

    In this particular case, we see the real casualty of Iraq – noone believes our politicans anymore in this area.

    I found Hague’s stance unacceptable today when we have the history of misinformation from Iraq.

  5. BCrombie

    Agree with what you say about Iraq, and yes truth is the first casualty of…conflicts.

    The system of alliances also has uncanny echoes of 1914.

  6. The Alawite regime in Syria is not unduly concerned at the endless bluster of Uk/Fr. Even the US has had more red lines broken than a heavily amended Agreement.

    We will talk an agressive game and do nothing.

    Partly because we’re not sure we want to; mainly because we are in a geopolitical bind. We can’t decsively attack Bashar Al-Assad’s regime and we know it. Yet our politicians keep saying otherwise to give the appearance that we matter when we don’t.

    If we had more representative governments in the ME maybe they could intervene – provided they could overcome the Sunni/Shia divide. That’s really what should happen.

  7. @REG of the BNP

    “of course”-since when were Labour decisions good ones ‘of course’. ”

    It’s interesting that you think Anthony Eden was right and the Labour Party wrong over Suez.

  8. There was irrefutable evidence that chemical weapons had been used by the government against the Kurdish people in Iraq. Was that justification enough for the ‘conflict’ with Iraq – or not?

  9. For those here who don’t think there is any difference between chemical weapons and bombs, do you think we should scrap international treaties against chemical warfare? Or extend them to all ordnance and insist on people fighting only with small arms (or possibly just with bows and arrows?)

    Perhaps our now-depleted armed forces should stock up on some Sarin themselves, to make up for the loss of the Harriers, ships and infantry battalians. Our new 30,000 strong reserve force could be drawn largely from university chemistry departments and pharmaceutical companies. Why not. It’s no worse than Tornado bombers, cruise missiles and the Royal Artillery.

  10. @ Neil A

    Did you/ do you continue to support the past action against Iraq because of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons?

  11. It seems to me that we cannot intervene in Syria without running an unacceptable risk of making matters worse. We could send humanitarian aid (even handedly), work towards the international agreement that would make a political settlement more likely, and use what little leverage we have with the parties to try and get them to negotiate. We could even urge effective monitoring of chemical attacks with punishment for anyone proved to have transgressed (a tomahawk on a palace or two perhaps). But I cannot see that talking big when we don’t actually carry believable clout does anything to make a solution more likely. It anything the reverse. So why do our politicians do it? And has it anything to do with their perception of VI? If so it is odd, because most people seem to be in favour of humanitarian aid but against direct military intervention.

  12. The problem with chemical weapons is the same as the real problem with nuclear weapons and biological weapons: escalation. If the other side is going to use gas, then it would be irresponsible not to do so ourselves.

    “But isn’t that true of all weapons?”

    Yes. That’s one of the terrible things about weapons.

  13. Amber Star

    15 years before? When we were actively supporting them?

    Do you really think that use of chemical weapons in the 1980s was the reason we went to war with Saddam?

    Neil A

    Depleted Uranium and a 30000lb bunker-buster are not ‘just bombs’. White Phosphorus isn’t too pleasant either-

    Of course we shouldn’t use chemical weapons, or nuclear weapons for that matter – so why does the US still have big stockpiles of both

  14. Alec,

    Oh dear yourself. The point about using Airpower to degrade Syrian Airdefence is that it firstly prevents the use of aircraft and helicopters against civilian targets and secondly that it allows the use of airborne forces, if necessary, to temporarily secure the main chemical weapons storage sites.

    These tend to be a few remote sites far away from populated areas.

    The whole point of this strategy is to avoid asymmetric warfare by having as few troops as possible in the fewest areas as possible for the shortest possible time.

    The problems in Iraq only started after the fall of Bagdhad specifically when we made the whole Iraqi army unemployed. The Invasion ran like clockwork the occupation was an unmitigated disaster.

    The lesson is to copy the good bits of the invasion and avoid the bad bits of the occupation.

    We would only even try to deal with chemical weapons if we were;
    Sure where they were, they weren’t too heavily protected, they hadn’t been dispersed and they could be removed or destroyed safely.

    As to the difference between chemical and conventional weapons, particularly cluster bombs.

    Cluster bombs are designed to maim not kill (that ties down and clogs the medical and logistic chain and undermines moral). They disperse multiple grenade sized bomblets over a wide area with a percentage designed to lie dormant as mines. They are a particularly nasty and in humane weapon.

    They are however most effective in open areas against exposed mass infantry but of limited use in urban areas where even modest protection from light buildings can stop most of the shrapnel. That makes them I’ll suited for use against urban civilians.

    By contrast CW are most effective in dense areas where the gas can flow and wind effects can’t disperse it and where buildings make it difficult for people to flee. You can’t hide in doors or lie in a ditch to escape gas. They are also most lethal to the weak particularly the very young and the very old. In every sense the do the most harm to those less likely or able to fight back or defend themselves.

    It’s. odd if not facile to judge which weapon is the nastier but for sheer brutality chemical biological and radiological weapons are a class apart.


  15. @Amber,

    Actually I had a rather perverse position on Iraq. I thought the WMD issue was fairly irrelevant, I supported the war because I thought it was a good idea to bring down the regime of Saddam Hussein. A big part of the reason I thought that was a good idea was his use of chemicals against the Kurds, but mainly I just thought he was a war waiting to happen.

    Despite all of the problems in Iraq since, I still think that on the historical long view removing Hussein will be seen as the correct course of action.

    I think Syria is much more complex. Assad is no Hussein. I completely supported the insurrection against him, and I wonder to myself whether much more support for that insurrection at the beginning (when it was broad-based, largely secular and fairly peaceful) might have achieved something. But between Russian and Chinese instransigence, and domestic opposition to “meddling”, we didn’t support the protests with anything more than words. Since then the escalating violence and the co-option of the rebellion by Sunni Jihadists has made Western intervention pretty much untenable. I don’t see any huge problem with firing a few million dollars worth of Tomahawks at Syrian government buildings (although I am pretty sceptical about these chemical attacks – it would seem to me insane for Assad to do this when he is winning the ground war) but I can’t see it doing anything apart from giving the Western leaders a sense of “something being done” to take back to their electorates. Those electorates seem to pretty much agree with me about Syria according to AW’s poll report.

    My great regret is that Turkey, the only country with the ability to really make any difference on the ground, hasn’t intervened. In my opinion noone else has any tools to hand which can help anymore. Once the rebellion is completely crushed, it will be for the Russians to pay for the rebuilding of the country, according to Colin Powell’s maxim. By supporting a dictator against the will of his people, they broke the country and they now own it.

  16. Nail A

    On Saddam – the reason for the WMD was to try and make any war against him legal.

    If you and Amber support the attack on him due to use of chemical weapons in the 80s then I suggest you also call for a UN sponsored war on the US as it seems from declassified documents in the last few days that the US supported his use of chemical weapons at that time, and perhaps considering the close relationship this was known by the UK as well.

    Chemical weapons are either bad or they aren’t. If bad then surely the behaviour of our allies should be treated with the same seriousness. This is without going into the disaster of Vietnam.

    I find this idea of ‘firing a few cruise missiles’ as being okay rather distasteful. Do you think that it will be military killed – what about civilians? If you think that then it is surely okay for Iran to fire a few missiles at Israel or Saudi Arabia seeing these countries are an active threat. Where does it all end?

    I find this joy for war saddening and it seems diplomacy is a last resort

  17. I would support the abolition of permanent UN Security Council seats. The five seats allocated in 1945 are skewed in terms of power. Russia and China consistently use their veto to stop overwhelming support for resolutions against their regional allies. France and Britain are minor world powers who no longer have empires and are hardly relevant to the affairs of more than a handful of nations. The USA, for its part, is utterly intransigent in blocking resolutions condemning Israel’s brutality against its Palestinian population.

    What this has the effect of doing is allowing a handful of nations to run roughshod over the UN whenever the nations of the world do something they don’t like. It’s completely anti-democratic and has stopped important progress in the past and probably will in future.

  18. Is there any idea what the LD view is on the imminent attack on Syria?

    Seeing the party so vociferously attacked Labour on Iraq, and the evidence doesn’t look much stronger after watching Kerry’s poor press conference (heavy on rhetoric, light on fact), do they oppose this or not?

    I have asked for views on LDV but it is like a wasteland over there at the moment.

    At least the Tories are consistent – they never really cared for evidence of WMD with Iraq, and they don’t seem that bothered here. Regime change is their clear objective.

  19. I’m not sure of the official LD view but the members won’t be keen. Any party opposed is about to get a decent, if temporary boost in the polls. Greens, maybe?

  20. French and British warplanes flying into Cyprus, it’s on!

  21. Test

  22. @BRCrombie,

    I was quite specific that is was regime change, not WMD, that was the reason for my support of the Iraq war. That’s not to say that I disagree with you about the use of chemical weapons. We should oppose it wherever it occurs and whoever instigates it, and should not condone it (and certainly not encourage it) amongst our allies.

    Vietnam is probably a little bit too historic to factor into an argument in 2013. Otherwise we might have to bomb ourselves for having used gas in the Great War.

    As for firing off cruise missiles. Well, working on the assumption that they would be targeted with a fair degree of accuracy at installations estimated by decent intelligence to be actively involved in propagating violence against civilians (big assumptions I know) then I don’t see them being especially unjust or disproportionate. I am not actively advocating it, merely saying I am not especially opposed. Unless they were part of a massive campaign of air attacks designed to reverse the military reality on the ground (a la Libya) or to force the government to submit to international pressure (a la Kosovo) then I can’t see them having any real effect.

  23. I have a comment in mod regarding reports of a military buildup in Cyprus

  24. It wasn’t a good comment

  25. Neil A

    Amber’s use of Halabja as a reason for the 2003 invasion is stretching things as much as using Vietnam. It was also around this time that the US was providing intelligence for Iraq to use to target chemical attacks – if good enough for one then….

    The effects of chemical weapons were realised before the Great War and they were actually forbidden in 1907 but there were some loopholes that were exploited. I don’t think we can excuse things just because they were in the past – the horrors were known then and we should not avoid condemning there use then or since because it was a few decades ago.

    I can guarantee if Cruise Missiles are fired into Damascus there will be photos of dead babies – round 2 in the propaganda war but these will then be decried as being so by the proponents of the attack.

    The US Government justification seems to be based on youtube videos from what I can tell – is there evidence of Syrian troops being given atropine or residues of the weapons. It seems that the weapon’s inspectors have been dismissed by the US just as they were before Iraq. I know absence of evidence is not evidence of absence but really….

    Why is there such a rush to attack?

  26. BCrombie
    The LD voters did not think much different to other VI voters on Syria but very slightly more against sending ground troops than the others except UKIP (see tables). UKIP were most against that, perhaps reflecting an age difference.

  27. BCrombie
    To save you looking, on average, 8 out of 10 voters are against ground troops but UKIP were more against (19 out of 20).

  28. BCrombie
    More accurately only 1 in 20 UKIP voters were in favour (I forgot the 9% who were DK.

  29. @ B Crombie

    Amber’s use of Halabja as a reason for the 2003 invasion is stretching things as much as using Vietnam.
    I don’t believe I did use it as a reason. I asked whether people here viewed it as justification or not. And, given the news to which you linked, I wonder how it will be viewed in hindsight & especially how it will be viewed in relation to the situation now happening in Syria.

    FWIW, I remain utterly baffled by the timing of our ‘conflict’ with Iraq, even if there was some justification for it – & I have yet to be convinced that it was justified.

  30. Amber Star

    Thanks for the clarification – we are more aligned than I though. Apologies for the misinterpretation


    I would imagine that the LD would be opposed but where is the leadership on this? I have seen nothing and there is a wasteland over on LDV where the main subject seems to be Martin Luther King’s speech 50 years ago. A worthy subject but indicates the bubble in which the party exists now.

    To me the evidence in the case of Syria is as weak as that for Iraq and also I do not understand the rush at all – surely this has time for the truth to be found out. Assad is going nowhere for the next few months!

    I expect the same response from the LD as we saw for Iraq – evidence, UN resolution etc.

  31. So UKIP supporters are the most in favour of increasing the size of the armed forces (I think they want a third aircraft carrier) but the least in favour of using it.

    That’s either because they don’t care what happens to Johnnycake Foreigner or they are worried that if we send troops to Syria we would be exposed if the French launch a sneak attack!


  32. We can discuss precedents from the two world wars, and the many post-war conflicts at length, and I am quite happy to take part in the discussion tomorrow.

    I would never take any joy in going to war, even if it may, arguably, sometimes be a lesser evil.

    What I would draw to your attention is the change of tone in the BBC correspondent Mark Mardell’s cautious comments on the BBC website, entitled “Is a US attack on Syria now inevitable?”
    and the sombre comments on the BBC 10pm news where he said in effect that an attack seemed likely.

    Plenty to think about.

  33. @Petercairns – I understand the military tactic point you make, and the caveats – it reads as a much more sensible post than your earlier one.

    However, I still fundamentally reject the idea that somehow we can mount an air campaign and then surgical strike and extract missions to retrieve the chemical weaponry. I’m afraid that’s complete pie in the sky. Many of your caveats would be broken anyway, with the biggest risk being a mass dispersal of the chemical weaponry, as that is the most obvious way for the regime to defend it’s stocks.

    But even if the CW were sitting neatly presented in a readily accessible package, awaiting armed collection by the US/UK forces, it would still be enormously difficult and relatively easy to defend against. Airborne forces are highly vulnerable to all manner of hand held or close quarters weaponry, particularly once they are on the ground, and these weapons won’t be degraded by airstrikes.

    Going in on the ground could only be possible by mass troop numbers.

  34. “”Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the UN Security Council? I would argue yes it is, otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, such crimes, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable situation,” Hague said on BBC radio.

    “Whatever we do will be in accordance with international law and will be based on legal advice to the national security council and to the cabinet,” he added”

    But if you look at the “use of force by states” article on Wikipedia it clearly explains that you can only invade another country to defend your own, or with security council approval.

    It seems Hague has jumped the gun on this one, and just because he thinks its the right thing to do, that doesn’t mean what he is planning is legal, in fact it looks clearly illegal. We may be saved from another war yet. Well done Douglas Alexander who is asking to understand the legal basis for this intervention.

  35. Could not believe wee Wullie Hague today…it is possible to attack Syria without a UN mandate as otherwise it would be impossible…

    Yeah right, something must be true – because otherwise it would be false…. WTF?

  36. @ Bcrombie,

    I expect the same response from the LD as we saw for Iraq – evidence, UN resolution etc.

    Do you really? You show a touching faith in their integrity.

    I expect muted warnings about the potential hazards of intervention, followed by equivocation, followed by lukewarm support for military intervention on the grounds that Cameron is not sending in ground troops (he won’t dare if intervention remains this unpopular) and therefore Syria is Very, Very Different From Iraq, No Really It’s a Different Situation Entirely and We Would Say So Even If We Weren’t In Government.

    (That’s their MPs, of course. Who knows what their activists will think, but I suspect anyone who is still standing by them after the tuition fees, NHS, secret courts, etc. etc. won’t be put off by a little war.)

  37. In the case of Syria, Russia may intervene. Long time since the last proxy war…

  38. @Richard

    Sadly, international law, while it does exist often takes a back seat to international relations – or, if you like might is right.

    The ultimate question politically is whether the US have gained assurances from Russia and China that they will accept a very limited cruise missle attack on Assad’s.forces. I can only see Russia agreeing with this if they believe it will be an unmitigated failure. After all, what will a few missiles achieve where it wil not be followed up? “Mr Al-Assad, you can kill your citizens by any, means you like, but if you do, so,by WMD we,will launch a few,missiles!”

  39. Bird and Fortune on Iraq…

  40. @Neil A
    You mentioned,Turkey ealier. Erdogan really does want,to, intervene. He has made that clear. But he does not, want,to do, so alone. And,he,has tried more, than anyone to achieve a settlement.

  41. Here is ITV’s paraphrase of Paddy Ashdown today… although he would “hate” an action that was not sanctioned by the United Nations, it was better than to let that body be further damaged by failure to respond to what could be the most “egregious breach” of human rights since it was founded.

    Lord Ashdown added: “Action taken with the aim of underpinning international law, even if it in the end doesn’t, is better, it seems to me, than no action with the certain consequence of undermining it.

    Legal cover would be argued under Humanitarian Intervention if neccessary.

  42. Amber

    The timing of the Iraq invasion wasn’t strange at all, Saddam was going to sell oil in euros, he had to be stopped, that’s why France and Germany were against the invasion, they wanted oil sold in euros. Libya was a pure panic because gadaffi was going to sell oil in gold which would have been a complete disaster for all western powers

  43. Alec,

    It’s not a different scenario from my first post it is the same one. Disable and Dismantle the Air Defence System and then seize CW’s if possible and necessary.

    At all times I have emphasised that the caveat must be only act or strike when it is safe and necessary to do so. Don’t do something because you think something should be done.

    Since GW1 through Kosovo to Iraq, Libya and recent Drone Strikes we have learned a great deal. Some of those lessons have been learned the hard way some are still not sufficiently heeded.

    We can take out targets from the air surgically, but they must be clear discernable and safe.

    Mistakes made in Kuwait and Kosovo were to go to far down the target list and to attack lower grade and dual use targets.

    Thus we attacked a low priority Iraqi communications hub that was also a civilian shelter and in taking out communications in Kosovo we hit both the TV station and the Chinese embassy.

    All were probably being used for military purposes but the consequences of the attacks out weighed the military advantage.

    On a broader point we have also hopefully learned the same lesson about non communications infrastructure.

    Destroying bridges and power stations while invading Iraq my make sense to a field commander in a ten day campaign but it is counter productive if civilians are getting power cuts or can’t get to hospital ten years later.

    In Libya we were far more decerning in focusing on clear military targets and avoiding wider attacks on dual use targets and infrastructure.

    What we hopefully have learned from the use of drones in Afghanistan is that they can play a key role in identifying and targeting military assetts but are limited and often counter productive when it comes to targeting individuals.

    Taking these lessons on board we can create a campaign that is effective up to a point. That point is where the Syrians disperse assetts in amongst the civilian population be it their hardware or their leaders.

    At that point we have to accept we are all but powerless as attempts to use force at this point would almost certainly do more harm than good.

    I am absolutely certain that we have the military ability and experience to deliver an effective response against military targets as long as they are discreet.

    I am not at all sure we have politicians that have the understand, discipline or strength to carry it out.

    The biggest dangers are firstly, that they give commanders to much leeway to conduct the campaign and they in there turn focus to much on short term objectives and secondly that as targets become harder and success more distant our leaders have the courage to accept that we have reached the limit of what we can do and don’t push for a successful conclusion that isn’t there.

    I have confidence in our forces and not a lot in our politicians.


  44. Billy Bob

    If Ashdown thinks this is the ‘most egregious breach of human rights’ since the UN was formed he needs to get out more, or read some books (eg Saddam with the tacit support of the US whilst we are on chemical weapons).

    He is becoming a parody of himself – did he say the same when Blair went to war with Iraq?

    I still don’t understand the rush to retaliate whilst we have not even heard back from the weapon’s inspectors or before we have seen the evidence as to why this was definitely Assad

  45. Syria was supposed to be a push over, it’s been planned for more than two years but now it looks like it’s falling apart, so it becomes more urgent to intervene directly, but it’s high stakes, Russia has a lot to lose. Of course one upside of any action is it will divert attention away from the upcoming G20 meeting where several countries have announced their intention to bring up the US dollar’s status as reserve currency

  46. Bcrombie

    “I still don’t understand the rush to retaliate whilst we have not even heard back from the weapon’s inspectors or before we have seen the evidence as to why this was definitely Assad”

    Err, because we know it wasn’t Assad? Prehaps

  47. Peter Cairns

    Have you been reading your old ‘Commando’ comics?

    Do you really believe the propaganda about ‘surgical strikes’ – the drones have left lots of collateral damage?

    These are peoples lives we are talking about, not some war pornography!

  48. I am strongly against military action. It’s a dangerous game. Apparently some of the equipment in Syria is manned by Russia. I thought we had matured out of proxy wars. Also, has anybody seen the pictures of Damascus, the likely site for most strikes. It’s absolutely battered already.

    Does anybody know Labour’s or Miliband’s position? Not for the first time I really have no idea.

  49. Peter Cairns

    Have you been reading your old ‘Commando’ comics?

    Do you really believe the propaganda about ‘surgical strikes’ – the drones have left lots of collateral damage?

    These are peoples lives we are talking about!

  50. @bcrombie

    I think I heard Michael Ignatieff say ” …even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons on his own people” yesterday on the Today programme.

    I have trouble believing my own ears sometimes though.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8