Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun (£) has some fresh Syria questions, just tweeted out by Tom Newton Dunn and reported on Sky News. The public remain overwhelmingly opposed to British troops being sent into Syria, but more importantly the poll also asked specifically about whether people would support a missile attack on Syria. 50% of people would oppose this course of action, 25% would support it. Even Tories are against missile strikes by 45-33% (Labour voters are against by 54% to 26%, Lib Dems by 47% to 27%)

UPDATE: Tabs are now on the YouGov website here. Regular voting tabs are here – today’s topline figures are CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%.

684 Responses to “YouGov finds public 2 to 1 against missiles strikes on Syria”

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  1. A Sun tweet which is both timely & useful in an important debate. Who’d have thought it?

  2. @MrNameless, @RiN and others
    There is a lot of argument in thi debate concerning the lives of our troops, and I appreciate that as we must preserve their lives in every way possible (not least because I have a son in the army and two nephews in the navy). There is another side to it, however, and that is the view of the troops themselves; they, in most cases, joined the forces for excitement and adventure, they knew the risks and they knew the disadvantages. In short they knew they could get killed and were willing to risk it. I speak for my son now, not myself as I do not think on quite the same wavelength, he not only doesn’t mind going to Syria but he actually wants to go out there. He has seen the coverage of the attacks there and he believes that it is only right that he should use his training to actually support a worthy cause. He believes that is his job and he should do it.
    The fact that we are largely unaffected by the conflict in Syria is oft repeated on here, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t help suffering civilians who have no wish to be involved in a kind of war that we, as a country, have condemned alongside many other countries in an international law. What I compare it with is a burglary. If the neighbour down the road was being burgled or assaulted and you happened to see it, would you not try to help him or would you not bother because your not being burgled and your more friendly neighbours in the house next door are not being burgled.

    (from last thread)

  3. I am awaiting the far more significant answer by voters to the question of whether the Kazakh football team should be allowed to sacrifice a sheep before their game with Celtic tomorrow.

    I don’t see any hugely significant difference between the various VI groups on the ‘bomb Assad’ question.

    As Colin pointed out much earlier, there is no evidence, at present to prove who is responsible.

    Gosh, does it not mirror Iraq all over again? I can’t remember what voters thought then at the same stage (i.e. Blix says he can’t find any WMD).

  4. Reg (better repeat my reply as well)

    I don’t see why we shouldn’t help suffering civilians who have no wish to be involved in a kind of war that we, as a country, have condemned alongside many other countries in an international law. What I compare it with is a burglary. If the neighbour down the road was being burgled or assaulted and you happened to see it, would you not try to help him or would you not bother because your not being burgled and your more friendly neighbours in the house next door are not being burgled.

    The trouble is that you don’t usually help people by dropping bombs on their heads, which is effectively what is being proposed. ‘Surgical’ strikes are heavily dependant on intelligence and likely to go wrong in an mainly urbanised country such as Syria And, different from Libya, Syria has allies you can supply all sort of covert support.

    It’s less live helping out a neighbour you know, than intervening in a pub fight where you’re not quite sure who’s on which side, who started it, who is fighting dirtiest and if anyone will thank if you try to help out (especially those you think you are helping).

  5. Amber

    More significantly is the fact they tweeted it (and asked for a poll on it[1]). Roy Greenslade in the Guardian pointed out:

    And The Sun? After yesterday’s spread, headlined “Kick his ass”, the paper steps back from jingoistic sabre-rattling in its editorial today, “Listen to army”.

    Bashar al-Assad “is a monster”, says the paper, but it’s not a simple as attacking the Syrian president – or kicking his ass – so “before we take any action, we have to be certain what good it would do.”

    The army’s leading general, Sir David Richards, “is convinced it would be a waste of time” and, anyway, parliament should decide, not the prime minister alone”.

    Now that’s what I call a U-turn. Did editor David Dinsmore change his own mind, or was it changed for him?

    Murdoch has never been too keen on not being on the same side as the public (even if you can see the skid marks from space).

    [1] Thereby explaining why Anthony has been so quiet all day. I wonder if this will be a ‘part-poll’ based only on the half of the daily sample asked on Tuesday.

  6. Here’s my tuppence worth.

    Now that the US and the UK have gone as far as they have in the media, they have to do something in reality. The US have positioned their forces, and the UK Parliament has been recalled. Cameron wouldn’t have done this if Ed had said he would oppose it (I imagine they have actually chatted on a telephone). Ergo, it’s a box-ticking exercise.

    In my humble opinion, the have to produce evidence, and many will not believe said evidence anyway.

    So it comes down to whether the humanitarian aspect is right and true, and whether the leaders are able to discern what is truth from what is propaganda.

    My only worry is Russia. I don’t think Putin is one to ignore.

    Interesting point made by Farage:

    (Sorry AW if it’s non-polling, but neither is it partisan – I appreciate if you disapprove).

  7. I’m not sure if public opinion will swing behind the govt once the bombing starts, it might be that they need another chemical weapons attack before it’s possible to start the bombing

  8. Isn’t this all becoming absurd? A punishment strike with no intention of causing regime change? And MP’s recalled for a vote on it in Parliament which is likely to be whipped, i.e; rubber stamping a mission impossible?

    I have said my piece about the morality of all this in the last thread. There’s no ‘ends and means’ argument at all for going in, because the means and end taken together could well be worse than the situation we are already in, there’s no guarantee the means will lead to the end, and we haven’t explored alternatives.

    Now the PM proposes something so absurd you’d have to be high to think it was a possibility, and the other parties are nodding. No one is looking at the situation in Syria, they are playing a game of chess, trying to second guess the way the domestic audience will look at them in a month’s time. The domestic audience is telling them loud and clear, however: don’t be silly.

  9. Colin Davis

    Their job isn’t to listen to the public,their job is to ppersuade the public, preferably before the event but after the event works too

  10. I am against bombing Syria, as I don’t think it would make any difference to what happens there in the long run. It is a nasty civil war, which has attracted in fighters from many different countries.

    One of my worries is that using millitary strikes against Assad Forces bases, could lead to chemical weapons getting into the hands of terrorists, who could then take them outside Libya.

    I was previously in favour of invading Iraq, but against long term occupation of Afghanistan. The reason for supporting action on Iraq was that Saddam Husseins regime had long proved to be a destabilising force in the region and were responsible for various attrocities. There was also the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being developed, which later proved to be untrue. In regard to Aghanistan, I could not see the point in occupation, once the presence of allied forces was no longer wanted by local Afghanies. The Teleban will be back again in some areas, when the allied forces leave in 2014.

    Think we need to allow some time for the UN and the Arab League to look at what they can do to help coordinate a more measured response. It is too dangerous to start sending in cruise missles, as we don’t know where this might lead us. It could become a regional conflict, with Israel being dragged into it.

  11. They’re not listening to the public, they are trying to second guess the way it will feel in a month’s time – I think. And if they want to persuade the public, the first thing they’ll need to do is pull down the curtain on the theatre of the absurd we are getting tonight. It’s hard. Something nasty has been done. No need to respond like the characters of Rhinoceros.

  12. Quite staggering figures from YouGov.

    If the Commons vote is whipped tomorrow, it’s a long way towards the ultimate imbecility. One way or the other, this ought to be the record rebellion of all time.

    If sanity prevails, could this be the old politicos’ “Last Hurrah!”? And if the vote carries, where next?

    The “silly season” concludes in a thunderstorm. [See the Indy headline: “Heir to Blair”. Ouch!]

  13. @ Statgeek

    Now that the US and the UK have gone as far as they have in the media, they have to do something in reality.
    Actually, it seems they won’t have to. The sabre rattling media is u-turning (see Roger Mexico’s comment regarding the Sun’s change of position).

  14. @ Carfrew–even-if-they-didnt-have-to-pay-fees-8786179.html

    I haven’t read this yet so I don’t know whether it’s points for you, points for me or continued stalemate re. our old debate! I just thought it looked like an interesting headline.

  15. @Malcolm Redfellow – “Quite staggering figures from YouGov.”

    In June YouGov (US) asked Americans if they supported aiding the rebels and taking military action: support 18%, oppose 54%.

  16. Oh not the private school debate again. Anyway, this will be utterly farcical if this gets through parliament. It’s not like gay marriage where few were opposed but were just very noisy. It’s widespread opposition from all of society, and if they ignore it it’s a fundamental indictment of the accountability of our politicians.

    Hard to protest against though – “Don’t Interf-ia in Syria” doesn’t have the same ring as “Don’t Attack Iraq.”

  17. At the beginning of the year YouGov Siraj found 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to stay as president… a very small sample though it seems.

  18. @ Mr Nameless

    Oh not the private school debate again.
    This time we would have a YouGov survey to justify it. :-) But I am NOT intending to restart that discussion, I just thought Carfrew might find it interesting.

  19. The only other estimate of Syrian public opinion I have seen:


  20. @AW

    Got round automod! Apologies for clogging the system.

  21. @Amber

    I’m not referring to the media, so much as the UK / US use of the media up to this point.

    “Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.

    Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca on Monday told the Guardian that they had seen C-130 transport planes from their cockpit windows as well as small formations of fighter jets on their radar screens, which they believe had flown from Europe.”

  22. @ Statgeek

    He marched them up to the top of the hill & he marched them down again… maybe the Old Duke knew he didn’t have public support for sending them into battle.

  23. LoL!

    Can we march the cruise missiles back to the bottom of the hill then? ;)

  24. @ Statgeek

    I expect so… I they haven’t actually been launched yet!

  25. The Government of both the UK & USA havent listened to the people over cuts, why do you think they will listen now. Polls in both countries show that we are against any war yet they warmonger on any way

  26. Ok, its clear we (the public) all oppose Syria. Hooray we have unity, voters from all parties are in agreement.

    Only problem is we don’t know if there are any parties opposed to this folly yet. What good is opposition if no party is willing to stand up to one of the most unpopular policies this parliament and defend the overwhelming view of the public? How can that be democracy?

    Come on Lib Dems, Labour, Greens, UKIP – are you all asleep? Must we vote for George Galloway to get some attention (please don’t let me have do that!)

  27. Richard,

    Much as I hate to endorse them to you, UKIP are vehemently opposed. The Greens are as well.

  28. What puzzles me about the use of CW by either Assad or others, is what they hoped to achieve, I don’t believe the act in itself was military significant.
    Is it to draw others in to the conflict ?
    Is it to test resolve post Iraq ?
    Who is behind it and to what ends?
    If we launch an attack, I am concerned we will have rewarded the culprits by doing exactly what they wanted and expected us to do.
    Waiting for evidence whilst building up forces & diplomatic pressure / backing seems appropriate, rather than rushing to act ASAP.
    There are so many players in Syria that the impact of any action will reverberate around the world, not one to mess up.
    Whilst the situation is grave, and has been for some time, of more importance is how it plays out and affects world diplomacy in the longer term. Acting now could curtail future interventions, encourage them, perhaps facilitating or preventing genocide etc. in another area. Maybe its best to let the situation play out and then act decisively, maybe with more support / preparation.
    Another consideration is, whilst it may be deplorable what has it got to do with the UK per se, other than as a member of the UN. By bypassing the UN, it is undermined. By letting the horrors play out, a concensus could firm behind international law which could provide a better long term approach.
    Or we could just bomb ’em
    Not sure what use public opinion is in such a complicated area, when such a simplistic approach as to bomb someone is proposed.
    I expect support following any action (patriotic) followed by the usual decline as we find out its not helped the situation.

  29. An Attack On Syria Would Be the Most Unpopular War Ever – Three times more Americans supported US involvement in Vietnam at war’s lowest ebb

    What are Obama and Cameron thinking?

  30. @Amber

    YouGov had another poll out recently asking about private schools, and showed people split pretty much dead even as to whether they were good or bad for the UK.

    I was surprised to see scepticism of them quite so high. I have pretty mixed feelings myself seeing as I went to one (though it’s converted to academy status now) and my dad said he kept it a bit quiet at work that I was going to one, but then again Scouse tradesmen probably won’t be typical of national opinion to put it mildly. Perhaps it’s a sign that Labour could be a bit bolder in the future, perhaps by ending the presumption of charitable status (I know the last government already began to ask for more from them) or putting VAT on their fees.

  31. Con 34%, Lab 39%, LD 8%, UKIP 12%; APP -30

    In the usual range

  32. latest YG of course.

  33. I don’t want to keep on about Syria but after sleeping on it the situation seems a little absurd

    i. This is a ‘punishment’ for Assad but unless he is very silly he going to be a long way away

    ii. We are not yet sure who used chemical weapons, and anyway even if we did it seems both sides are attempting to use them

    iii. If we are not advocating régime change then what will be different the day after?

    This war is a proxy war between Al-Saud and Iran with US and Russia backing, and thus has the danger of escalating when one of the actors takes a more obvious role. It would not surprise me if Russia starts giving more covert support to Assad in the wake of this and in the end if he will not gain the most.

    The use of chemical weapons is forbidden under the Geneva Convention. If there is evidence then get the ICC involved. I know it is symbolic but it will make things more difficult for Assad – dropping bombs on empty buildings or civilians won’t help much, even if he did it!

  34. @Roger Mexico

    I appreciate your point but it is fairly clear that whilst there are a lot of ‘baddies’ on both sides, there are only ‘goodies’ on one side (if you describe people fighting for an almost verifiable cause as ‘goodies’). I think the key word in all this is caution. You need caution whether it is a burglary or a pub fight.

  35. COLIN
    the poll also asked specifically about whether people would support a missile attack on Syria. 50% of people would oppose this course of action, 25% would support it. Even Tories are against missile strikes by 45-33% (Labour voters are against by 54% to 26%, Lib Dems by 47% to 27%)

    Ruddy moralists have infiltrated the whole system. Unless they are self-styled pragmatists, asserting that missiles will have no effect on regime change and cause the bloodshed of innocent people, or some such trumpery

  36. This is an awful decision to have to make :

    Assuming the responsibility for the 21st August attack is convincingly pinned on Assad ( and no military response is justified if it isn’t):-

    If there is no response –

    The UN Security Council & the whole panoply of CW Treaty intent are rendered a sham.
    The victims & their relatives will never ever believe in international justice again-indeed international justice will look a sad empty concept.
    Assad might use CW again as a result of his impunity this time.
    Iran & N. Korea will make a large diary note that Obama is all talk , & global security is reduced.

    If there is a response :-

    How will it be controlled?-this is like firing the first volley in a battle & then going home-what will Russia & Iran do in response ( though if the Principle at stake here is important enough-does that matter ?).

    Will Syria launch CW at Israel-thus starting a regional war.

    Is it actually possible to effect a single action military “punishment” in this way?

    I am relieved that I don’t have to take this decision-and feel cowardly for expressing ambiguity , given the suffering of those children.

    I am relieved I don’t have to vote in HoC on Thursday-if I was an MP & was whipped-I would vote with my conscience & take the consequences.

    DC is going to need a massively convincing performance on Thursday to carry the House.

  37. @Greg makes a most interesting point – just what was the purpose of the CW attack in the first place? Answering this would put us a long way down to track to defining our response.

    The only reasons could be to gather support by blaming the other side, putting the rebels in the frame but which most observers think is incorrect it seems (in the same way that most observers thought Saddam had WMD) or if it was Assad’s forces, to gain military advantage through fear, calculating that the West/UN would sit on their hands (can you sit on your hands while wringing them?).

    @Colin – “Assuming the responsibility for the 21st August attack is convincingly pinned on Assad ( and no military response is justified if it isn’t):-”

    I understand what you are saying, but lets say the attack happens to have been launched by the rebels, as with previous unproven suspicions – we should then, logically, attack the rebels.

    This is one of the areas where I remain deeply concerned. We are about to engage in a civil war, using humanitarian intervention as the excuse. To use this argument, we must remain even handed, so if there is any future case of rebel forces using CW, we must deal with them in the same manner. Or accept the Russians doing this on our behalf.

    Is this what Cameron wants?

    On the polls, I think we should be cautious in assuming public support is clearly against intervention. I think we can only really see what public opinion is once we know what we are being asked to have an opinion on. Ed M’s line is useful – is it legal, clearly defined, and with a good chance of achieving the stated purpose?

    If the answers to these are ‘yes’ then I suspect support will increase. The difficulty is all in the definition of the action an purpose, and here the public is deeply sceptical, as we’ve been bitten once before.

  38. “Will Syria launch CW at Israel-thus starting a regional war.”

    Thankfully, no. Assad is brutal and awful, but he’s not insane. He wouldn’t pick a fight he couldn’t win, and Israel, unlike the USA and UK, would have no issues invading.

    “Is it actually possible to effect a single action military “punishment” in this way?”

    No. This is exactly what happened when the USA bombed Libya in 1986 actually. Destroyed some buildings and killed Gaddafi’s infant daughter, but little else.

  39. These YouGov figures on public support for missile strikes on Syria bear witness to Jack Straw’s recent comment that the “threshold of scepticism” has been raised significantly since the Iraq invasion. It could also be that the public is aware of the special dangers associated with attacking a well armed country with powerful international allies. The Taliban, Saddam and Gadaffi were pariahs with few if any friends whereas the Assad regime is a different kettle of fish altogether, quite capable of robustly resisting a foreign attack and, more dangerously, using one to escalate the whole Syrian conflict into a Middle Eastern wide conflagration. Maybe, disastrously, even wider.

    I thought Lord (Admiral) West, as always, was impressive when I heard him interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning and he counselled strongly against any sort of military intervention into what is a chaotic and bloody civil war. His view was that if, as appeared to be the case from recent US and UK statements, there was clear and indisputable evidence from the UN inspections that the Assad regime had perpetrated the recent chemical weapons attack, then this evidence should be shared with Russia and China, thereby paving the way for a unanimous UN resolution on what course of international action should be taken with Syria. This would apply even if China and Russia only abstained rather than actively supported it. At present, I suspect they’d veto any likely UN Resolution, leaving the US, UK and France out on a legal limb in relation to any military action that they were likely to countenance. It would also escalate the crisis into a truly global one, potentially plunging international relations into hitherto uncharted territory.

    Jaw-jaw, as ever, is better than war-war and it seems to me that Russia and Putin are the key here. The Assad regime would crumble very quickly without Russian military, financial and diplomatic support and I would have thought that all our efforts should be going towards getting Putin onside. Difficult, I know, but not impossible with sustained and subtle diplomacy.

    Of course, and this is the dog that isn’t barking very loudly at the moment, but who follows Assad if his regime falls? Has anybody got the merest clue about the real nature and motivation of the forces currently arraigned against him within Syria?

    Pandora’s boxes and all that.

  40. The Syria questions aren’t in the YG tables for this morning. Anyone know where they are?

  41. Morning everyone,

    So the latest YouGov Poll shows a 5% Conservative deficit.
    I think there are more 4-7% Labour Leads now than the 7-10% of the past.
    We need the conference season to begin now to maybe see some more significant changes – or will they? – Whoi knows – no one actually knows but its all good fun.
    Now whether the Syrian situation has any impact at all the polls remains to be seen!

  42. @ Alec,

    To use this argument, we must remain even handed, so if there is any future case of rebel forces using CW, we must deal with them in the same manner.

    And what does that even mean? So we or the Russians bomb the rebels to retaliate- which ones? There are fifty different groups of rebels and half of them are trying to kill each other.

    And after this every one of them will have a strong incentive to use chemical weapons if there’s a chance they can frame the regime or an enemy faction for it, since we’ve turned it into a signal to call down an air strike.

  43. hal

    The Syria questions aren’t in the YG tables for this morning. Anyone know where they are

    Normally only the standard questions (VI, Approval and whatever the tracker questions for the day are[1]) are automatically published at 6am. Any one-off supplementary ones are published later in the day.

    One little straw in the wind. The Non-voters are 25% (as they were on Sunday) this is slightly higher than the usually steady level of 21-23%. It’s high for all three 2010 Parties’ votes and it may indicate voter frustration.

    [1] Though to get round the Bank Holiday problem they seem to have asked Tuesday morning’s questions in this batch as well as Wednesday’s.

  44. Voters for all parties also oppose Syria missile strikes; Tories 45-33%, Lib Dems 47-27% whilst Lab 54-26%, UKIP 68-22%

    The most opposed UKIP voters, (who of course believe any strikes should be against Brussels) a remarkable platform for Farage here, this could be the moment he’s been waiting for, if the other parties go along with support for military intervention as the lone voice against, he will get masses of airtime.

  45. Lib Dem voters most supportive of a NFZ over Syria, along with 25-39 group. Doesn’t seem to be any reason for that, just thought it was odd.

    No Fly Zone is the only option with a decent level of support (though still more opposed) so that’ll maybe be what they do.

  46. ALEC

    Clearly, establishing responsibility for the 21 August attack is key.

    The Times quotes “Whitehall & European sources” saying Bashar’s brother Maher , head of the Republican Guard, launched the rocket attack by the 4th Armoured Division, which he commands.
    It is said to have been a revenge attack for a rebel assault on a Presidential convoy in central Damascus at Eid.

    I can only presume that after DC releases his evidence of culpability to the NSC today , he will share it with Parliament & the country.

    Other than that i don’t know what more to say-except to observe that if the outcome of intervention is impossible to predict-so is the outcome of doing nothing.

    Everlasting implacable non-interventionism is merely the other side of the coin from gung-ho militarism.

    We do nothing -the situation gets worse-so the more we say we must do nothing.

  47. Headline results from the Syria questions (they did ask the full sample -f/w 26-27 Aug – so presumably that was Anthony’s BH gone):

    Thinking about the situation in Syria, here are some things that Britain’s Government is reported to be considering, in partnership with other countries such as France and the United States. Would you support or oppose each of the following?

    Sending defensive military supplies, such as anti-aircraft guns, to the anti-Assad troops

    Support 23% Oppose 50%

    Sending full-scale military supplies, such as tanks and heavy artillery, to the anti-Assad troops

    Support 13% Oppose 61%

    Using British aircraft and missiles to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria and, if necessary, use them against aircraft and airports operated by the Assad regime

    Support 34% Oppose 42%

    Using British missiles, fired from ships off the
    coast of Syria, against military sites inside Syria

    Support 25% Oppose 50%

  48. In a situation such as this, it seems almost crass to post on what is after all the main and strict purpose of this site, assesment of public opinion and voting intention and the impact on these of ‘events’. It may however be a case when this is turned around, when measurement of public opinion has a major impact on political events. Our leaders are very much aware of the importance of voters to their futures and the timely Yougov poll may be important.

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