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”

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  1. @ B Crombie

    I agree; we ought not to be pushed into a place where responsibility or guilt are decided arbitrarily. There is evidence that the rebel forces already used chemical weapons; & that the government of Syria is having difficulty guaranteeing the safety of UN inspectors. This contributes to the complexity of the situation.


    You aren’t listening.

    A statement from UN inspectors that ” this group of people were exposed to neuro-toxin x, y or z” does not tell us who used it.

    BBC reported that allocation of culpability is not with the Inspector’s brief.

  3. The real challenges we now face are.

    Can we establish it was a chemical attack beyond reasonable doubt; probably.
    Can we establish who was responsible beyond reasonable doubt; far harder.
    Can we get UN backing to take action if we get the first two; Unlikely as Russia will almost certainly Veto it.
    Can we find a legal justification to act without UN Authority; again difficult.
    If we can establish a legal non UN justification will parliament accept it ; could go either way.
    If we overcome all of the above what exactly will we do with what and for how long.
    What are the actual objectives we are trying to achieve; Warning, statement, punishment, regime change, neutralisation???
    What is plan B if it doesn’t work.

    It will be interesting to see how many of these issues parliment debates when recalled and if it is up to the task.

    I’ve no doubt there will be fine speeches on both sides and both sides will trumpet their speeches and decry the other sides but if it is rhetoric for the public and the press rather than detail on what we are planning and why it could all go horribly wrong.


  4. ………maybe it’s not within their technical ability.

    I have no idea. Either way it amounts to the same thing:-

    People were killed by chemical agent x in Damascus on that day-both sides in the conflict deny responsibility

  5. Colin

    Being a bit touchy aren’t you?

    The weapon’s inspectors will say whether there was a chemical attack – that will tell you one thing. They will also be able to tell if it was stabilised weapons-grade or whether it is lower quality material that disperses. This may help defining who used them.

    If there was other evidence such as Syrian troops being given antidotes (after Iraq’s use against there were syringes of atropine found to protect their troops), airborn delivery etc then we can start to apportion blame

    There is also the belief that the rebels have access to sarin as well so just the use of these weapons is not evidence in itself.

    The US/UK Government seem certain – if they produce the evidence that stands up then fine, if not I ask what the justification is under law for the attack on one side in a civil war?

  6. No formal polling was taken in Syria, however, data compiled by Western-sponsored activists and organizations relayed to NATO (in May) showed that:

    70 percent of Syrians support the Assad regime
    20 percent were deemed neutral
    the remaining 10 percent expressed support for the rebels:


  7. @ Colin

    The BBC report says:

    The experts intend to take soil, blood, urine and tissue samples for laboratory testing but they are unlikely to apportion blame for any of the attacks.
    Of course the inspectors will not ‘apportion blame’ because that would compromise their investigation. The inspectors will try to gather evidence which can be used – by others more qualified – to judge what was used, what ‘system’ was used to ‘deliver’ it & who the likeliest instigators/users of that ‘delivery system’ were.

  8. spearmint

    No YouGov poll today? Things really do go to pot in Anthony’s absence…

    No, just standard Bank Holiday practice. Normal service should resume tomorrow.

    Though it does remind me of something rather odd that happened in his absence. Normally the Cuts questions get asked every fortnight, Sunday-Monday published Tuesday (so a Bank Holiday can leave a four-week gap).

    However three weeks ago after their usual Tuesday appearance, the same questions popped up again Thursday morning. And again on Friday. We never really got a reason why, though the first set of figures did look a bit odd (Good/Bad for the Economy tied for the first time since 2010 and they haven’t since) Or it could be something to do with the methodology review.

    The questions weren’t asked the following week so back to schedule you’d assume. But last week, as well as the usual Tuesday figures, the two extra sets appeared as well. In the absence of the Pollmeister did they just decide to repeat exactly what was done the previous fortnight, no matter how irrelevant?

  9. Sarin’s not that difficult to manufacture – after all it’s what the Aum Shinrikyo cult used in the 1995 subway attack[1]. So it’s possible that some subset of the rebels could have manufactured it or gotten hold of it from government stocks. Delivery might be more difficult if it was done using specialist rockets, though not impossible. Finding evidence of how the nerve gas (if that’s what it was) got there will be just as important in providing proof.

    The trouble is that a chemical weapons attack has been set up as the magic trigger that will automatically ensure Western intervention. This means that rebel forces have a very high interest in having that happen and that’s a short step to making it happen. So even if it was the Assad regime, there will be suspicion that was too ‘convenient’.

    YouGov asked their Syria questions in April both wih and without the “use [of] chemical weapons against rebel fighters or civilians”:

    Adding that in did increase some support for some option by about 10 points, but from such a low base that it made little difference. Opposition for even supplying small arms was still 47-27 for example and opposition to any form of Syrian intervention has grown since.

    [1] Thougth it’s worth pointing out it’s not very effective, only 13 people were killed in Tokyo for example though thousands were affected.

    [Anthony please delete previous comment (also) in mod]

  10. Roger Mexico

    Indeed sarin is not that difficult to manufacture and a pretty rudimentary lab could do it – although the quality would be poor and it would therefore be interesting to determine what grade was used. It can also be efficiently supplied in a binary system that would be indicative of a more sophisticated weapon

    As you also say the delivery mechanism will be very important to determine and this is why the inspectors need to do their job – these guys are experts in the area (unless they are US spy as in in Iraq….) and would actually help to provide evidence as to who did it.

    Why have the US lost interest in the inspectors now they have access?

  11. @ Roger,

    Oh, right, of course. Thanks.

    Populus seem to have one out, though- do we think they’ve moved to daily polls?

    @ Bcrombie,

    Indeed sarin is not that difficult to manufacture and a pretty rudimentary lab could do it – although the quality would be poor and it would therefore be interesting to determine what grade was used

    Although there’s a theory that Assad is manufacturing adulterated sarin to save on the precursor chemicals, so I’m not sure a determination of the quality would be definitive proof of guilt one way or another.

  12. Spearmint – I think Populus are just a day late because of the bank holiday. I checked with Rick when they started publishing the online polls and he said the intention was to have a weekly poll every Monday and on most Fridays.

  13. There is no excuse for any involvement in Syria, ever. It’s issue for the UN – or no-one.

    Don’t we learn from our past involvements in illegal and immoral wars especially now we are broke?

  14. I think when looking at the political and parliamentary arithmetic people are forgetting something which is a big difference from Iraq. That is the position of the Right. Although there were a few isolationist mutterings even then, there was automatic support from most of it.

    But this time it will be different. Partly this is partisan – the US President is a Democrat this time and most of them regard Cameron as a pale photocopy of Blair, even if he actually is a Conservative. But there is also a stronger feeling against expensive foreign wars than before (they have convinced themselves with the ‘no more money’ rhetoric) and near-terror about promoting Islamic extremism (again).

    UKIP has been fiercely against intervention from the start and the comments on the Telegraph pieces are as virulently opposed as on the Guardian’s. Cameron will not be able to rely on as many of his backbenchers as he may think and this may be yet another reason for alienated activists to go.

    Miliband will have his own problems of course, whatever Labour decides to do in a vote (they’re dithering at the moment), but the real danger will be for Clegg, especially if he not only loses the support of a lot of his backbenchers but if he finds people such as Kennedy and Campbell speaking against him. This could be the push that finally get the Party moving against him.

  15. @Peter Cairns

    “Can we find a legal justification to act without UN Authority”

    Waiting for the US to make Assad’s regime and the rebels both NATO members, so NATO can go in, regardless of who started it. :)

  16. Roger Mexico,
    A very interesting post.To be charitable Labour may not be so much dithering
    As weighing up their options.No harm at the moment in keeping their powder
    dry.A. Free vote might be the solution to all three leaders problems.

  17. I’m pleased DC has called for a debate on the matter on Thursday it will give a chance for the pro/anti Mp’s to air their views, but the simple truth is Labour will support the government unless something unusual happens.

    What do I base that on, because if todays government was Labour they would be doing the same thing supporting America and other Nato allies that are calling for action in Syria, to say no to action after threats against Assad’s use of gas have been made will only strengthen his hand and make things worse for the opposition forces.

    I full expect DC to say no to supplying arms, no to ground troops, yes to contributing a few tomahawk missiles probabely for a nuke submarine, yes to aircover for the American fleet, yes to use of UK base in Cyprus.

    As the cruise missile war decreases Syria’s ability to retaliate, British warplanes used to attack targets in Syria including presidential palaces, communications and so on in line with the Lybian model.

    If Syria puts up a fight I fully expect them to attack our base in Cyprus and have a go at the American navy ships, I also expect them to use more gas on the what have we got to lose principle, of course Assad may see the writing on the wall and go, or he may face a rebellion from his own troops who will be at the receiving end of all this violence, or he may choose to inflict as much damage death and destruction as he can before he is removed.

    My opinion remains the same the UK should only use force to defend itself or assist allies who are part of a defence pact who themselves have been attacked,or act out of self interest in exceptional circumstances.

    But absolutely not to get suckered into a civil war were two armed camps are being barbaric towards each other just because our sensibilities are upset because gas has been used, civil war is a bloody business as our own civil war was, but when all the killing stops it is possible for order to be restored without the military intervention of external governments, who’s only reward will be the hatred of the losing side and there many supporters.

  18. Laszlo

    from pg4

    You know as well as I do that that is about as far as possible from the west’s intentions.


    from pg5

    No, I agree with Labour on the subject of Suez. I just don’t like the comment ‘of course’.

  19. Hi Ozwald,I hope all is well with you.I read an interesting but provocative
    Question by someone elsewhere.If the evidence shows that it was the rebels
    Who used the chemical weapons,will the West move against them?Both
    Russia and China believe it is the rebels and say they have evidence to prove
    This,Israel say the opposite.This was from The BBC at lunchtime.

  20. Miliband will try to have his cake and eat it, he will do the minimum required to make sure the vote passes

  21. Logical solution for Miliband to not upset his party is to allow a free vote. Logical solution to win public affection is to oppose.

    I suppose it depends on the extent of support. Obviously a full invasion isn’t on the cards, which Labour would oppose, but they might be persuaded to support missile strikes as Turk suggests.

    The public aren’t going to like pretty much whatever happens if it goes ahead and if there are actually any UK losses (I hear the Russian anti-air systems are quite advanced) that’ll cause some serious PR damage.

  22. @Ann In Wales
    Hi. Most things are well with me thanks. I have been spending a huge amount of time helping several disabled folk in their batlles against ATOS. Legal Aid for such things has recently been stopped and to make matters worse some GPs are charging 3-figure sums to provide medical evidence. I hope we get a much more honest system someday but I doubt whether Labour will provide it cos they set ATOS on in the first place! VI seems unaffected by the issue.

    Re the provocative question it is a teaser, but the weapons of war include proganda, lies and and disinformation. Kerry has hinted that the USA has ‘other sources’ of intelligence to confirm that the regime are guilty.

    Lord Owen was on the Beeb a few minutes ago and he thinks that eventually the conflict could end with some form of partitioning of the country.

  23. @REG

    The comment ‘of course’ was referring to the fact that the Labour Party were of course right with regard to the Suez involvement because that’s how most people now feel about it (and, indeed, did at the time). You should stop reading conspiracies into everything!

  24. Norbold

    I never suggested it was a conspiracy, just a partisan comment. I will accept that I interpreted you wrongly and will therefore let the matter go.

  25. Ed Miliband said:

    “The use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians is abhorrent and cannot be ignored.

    “When I saw the Prime Minister this afternoon I said to him the Labour Party would consider supporting international action but only on the basis that it was legal, that it was specifically limited to deterring the future use of chemical weapons and that any action contemplated had clear and achievable military goals.

    “We will be scrutinising any action contemplated on that basis.”

    Anybody seen / heard what the LD stance is ?

  26. That’s a very reasonable position to take. I would imagine the LD stance will be broadly similar.

  27. “Lord Owen was on the Beeb a few minutes ago and he thinks that eventually the conflict could end with some form of partitioning of the country.”

    Yes, Lord Owen would know all about splitting things!

  28. @ Anthony,

    Thanks. I feel like we just had one from Populus, but I must be thinking of Friday’s.

    @ Turk,

    if todays government was Labour they would be doing the same thing supporting America and other Nato allies that are calling for action in Syria

    As much as I’d like to believe Labour act solely in what they believe to be the national/global interest, I don’t think we should discount the effects of being in opposition.

    You’re right, if they were in government they’d be doing the exact same thing, but it’s a very unpopular policy with a lot of reasons to question it (legality, efficacy, relations with the Arab world) and a vast potential to go wrong (if it turns out the rebels were actually to blame for the recent gas attack, if the mission snowballs into protracted Western involvement, if we accidentally bomb a school instead of a chemical weapons depot). A clever opposition, especially one trying to distance itself from a disastrous Middle Eastern war it started when last in government, might take advantage of this golden opportunity to score a few points with the electorate. (Especially a clever opposition trying to hoover up votes from an anti-war party that is now part of the government about to go to war.)

  29. Hm, Labour say they’ll definitely whip the vote. “We don’t know which way we’ll jump, but we’re all jumping together!”

    Poor MPs. It can’t be much fun to find out whether you’re for or against a war two minutes before you’re expected to vote on it. (And Diane Abbott is saying she might resign…)

  30. THe Arab League statement is significant I think :-

    THey say they hold Syria “fully responsible for the ugly crime and demands that all the perpetrators of this heinous crime be presented for international trials”

    They also called on UN Security Council members to overcome their differences and take “the necessary resolutions against the perpetrators of this crime”.

    This may not assist on the legality front, but , as for Libya, support by the Arab League will be seen as crucial in projecting regional justification for action .

    Both DC & NC have made it clear that the action will be specifically a response to the use by Assad of Chemical weapons ( banned internationally) on 21st August in Damascus.

    DC said in the tv interview they had evidence of use , by Assad, of CW “on ten previous occasions”. Presumably this evidence will be released.

    Interested in Turk’s view of the THursday vote by Labour. Surely DC must know that he will get a majority before proceeding with this ?

  31. @ Spearmint

    I would be amazed if there were any votes in the Syria issue either way. I don’t think the electorate have it as a priority issue whether opinion polls tell us the majority are for or against action. We have the template of Libya with limited action so there is not likely to be an end result that will greatly benefit any Western politician seen to be at the forefront of the action.

    Possibly Miliband could win back a few of the anti-Iraq war to Labour if he takes a semi anti stance. Personally it’s a very complicated conflict and I don’t know enough about the likely outcomes to have a strong opinion- I think MP’s should just be left to a free vote with no point scoring.

  32. Hollande & Obama spokesman also pinning the action specifically on the 21st August use of CW in Damascus.

    French minister quoted as saying the only thing which won’t be done is to “do nothing”. I think that about sums up how they all feel-if we allow this without response , we condone it.

    So this is to be a “punishment “strike at Assad.

    Which begs an awful lot of questions about what happens then.

  33. Spearment.

    Given that I don’t support a war in Syria , I still think it highly unlikely Labour will vote against supporting America, the future implications for the UK should we require American support in the future could be compromised by a no vote.

    As for jumping on a no war vote to increase VI well that may be a good tactic but not without risks, if Assad is forced out of office and west withdraws, then you run the riisk of just looking weak and indecisive the last thing EM needs at the moment.

  34. AMBER


    Politics Home reports :-

    “UN weapons inspectors remain in Damascus examining the sites of last Wednesday’s gas attacks and the spokesman said their evidence would feed into any decision the UK and its international partners make.”

    They also report :-

    “David Cameron has said that any action taken against Syria would be “legal”, “proportionate” and aimed at deterring the future use of chemical weapons.”


    “…That honour falls to me and your post is staying in mod isolation. I don’t like por#ographic material on a political website. ;-)…”

    I appreciate your diligence. However, your designation as pron of a head-and-shoulders shot of TGPM with his collar button racily undone may perhaps be the most obscure application of Rule 34 evah…:-)


  36. Cameron says “Let me stress to people, this is not about getting involved in a Middle Eastern war”. I hate to tell him this, but isn’t that exactly what he’s proposing?

    “The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed up Cameron’s position, saying: “What we’re considering is a serious response… What we’re not considering is regime change, trying to topple the Assad regime.””

    “The Deputy Prime Minister said today it was right to act because failure to do so would set a “very dangerous precedent”.”

    It seems Clegg is on board whether or not there’s UN backing. This will not play well in the sticks.

  37. So, quick summary:

    * we can’t afford to go to war
    * we don’t have the men nor materiel to go to war
    * we don’t have the means of preventing civilian deaths in the war
    * we don’t have clearly defined war goals for the war
    * we’re going to war anyway
    * neither Lab, Lib nor Con will kick off about this overmuch

    Any more of this, and the Kippers may have a point…:-(


  38. Colin

    I love the way you faithfully report the words of officials and politicians, I’m not totally sure if you believe what they say, I most certainly don’t . As far as I’m concerned they are guilty until proven innocent

  39. And yet the Kippers want massive military spending they refuse to use. The Greens may have a point?

  40. Martyn

    We can’t afford not to get further involved, we need a friendly reliable Syrian govt if we are going to have a gas pipeline from the gulf to europe. The costs will be more than earned back in lower gas prices and greater pan European energy security

  41. RiN,

    Your ruthless realpolitik concerns me.

  42. (And Diane Abbott is saying she might resign…)

    Please Please Please Diane

  43. GO


    “…and yet the Kippers want massive military spending they refuse to use. The Greens may have a point?…”

    Yes, but massive military spending which you don’t use is good. It provides employment, creates cool stuff and satisfies a large export market. You have to have an occasional war to shake out the bugs, but these can be done Far Away.

    But the Traditional British Method involves minimal military spending and fighting wars at the drop of a hat (or head). This has certain advantages (advances in surgery including burn treatment, craniofacial surgery and face and hand transplants) but is usually expensive


  45. It provides employment, creates cool stuff and satisfies a large export market.

    So does science R&D and space exploration. They also have the advantage of getting many fewer people killed!

  46. Martyn

    It’s the Politician’s Syllogism.

    With explode-y things

  47. I’d be interest to hear the SNP’s position on the Syria issue, but I suppose they are waiting for something to criticise (or not) first.

    Also keen to see the regional polling if Syria does kick off a UK involvement. Will it strengthen Cameron or not? (keeping in mind existing supporters/detractors of Cameron will have their views reinforced initially).

  48. If the Syrians are attacked I only hope they manage to inflict some damage in retaliation.

  49. @Martyn

    The only advantage at being unprepared for war is that (if) you win, it creates a greater aura of being tougher or more versatile.

    In reality it’s generally a balance of lucky situations where the sheer professionalism of the troops / pilots turns the luck around.

    I’d rather be prepared. Luck doesn’t always win.

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