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. @ Neil A

    I don’t think many MP’s ruled out taking action altogether, just not yet. I think Obama set the hare running, Cameron wanted the UK to help, assumed MP’s would support him due to horror of chemical weapons being used and then lost when the arguments against an instant reaction won the day.

    There is still the possibility that during the next few weeks more information will come out and that Labour frontbench will back the government in using limited UK force action. The danger is then mission creep, when actions to stop chemical weapons being deployed, turn into regime change, with command and controls centres attacked.

    My concern is that there was a recent map showing many different sites where the chemical weapons are stored. Then there were instances where some of the rebel forces were found in possession of chemical weapons. If you start bombing different sites around Syria, what is to stop terrorists getting hold of more of these weapons. The consequences of limited military strikes could be more severe than these recent attociities. What would happen if rebel groups used the weapons against Israel. You could end up with a regional war, just because you wanted to punish Assads regime for using banned weapons.

  2. Barry Gardiner just tweeted: “Gove loses it in the lobby! Accusing colleagues of supporting Assad in a very high pitched voice.”

    Quite a spectacle, to add to Hammond referring to Assad as Saddam Hussein it doesn’t give a great picture of the cabinet.

  3. Those Cameroons on here suggesting their man will come out clean as a whistle from this are being a bit premature.

    Tory MPs are now telling journalists that he is a PM with a ‘broken back’, and the chat in the commons is apparently about how badly he has read his own party. Many of his MPs are aghast at his complete mishandling of this.

    Statgeek illustrates the dreaming here, by pretending that recalling Parliament and then losing doesn’t really matter. It does – it’s a huge, huge deal. If you can’t hold the vote, you don’t make the play.

    Mark Urban on Newsnight also just made the point that we’ve just witnessed our constitution change. Whenever now could we ever imagine a PM taking us to war without a Parliamentary vote? This is what Cameron’s assurance on Royal Prerogative does.

    This too is a very big deal. It wasn’t a magnanimous act of a laid back gent who goes with the flow. It was carefully considered act of humiliation of a PM by a leader of the opposition, incensed at the language aimed at him during the day.

    It’s the direct result of all that consensus building we saw, and Cameron only has himself to blame.

  4. Chrislane 1945,

    Don’t keep away just because of some silly comments.

    Stick and stones…

  5. @CL1945

    Welcome back.

    Perhaps Cameron shouldn`t have stuck his neck out there with such a precarious majority

  6. @BRCrombie,

    You misunderstand me. I don’t desire military intervention. I don’t think bombing Syria is a solution.

    I just also believe that not bombing Syria is not a solution either.

    Besides which, the motion in parliament which has been defeated (in fact both proposals which have been defeated) involved “waiting a few days and seeing what the weapons inspectors said”.

    We are now in a position where even if the weapon’s inspectors return with a piece of shell casing upon which Assad wrote in his own handwriting “Maher, please fire this at some Sunnis, I’ve ordered another 1,000 for you to fire over the weekend” then we still won’t react militarily.

    I am very much in two minds. We simply live in a world where evil men do evil deeds on an industrial scale and we can’t do anything about it. I see no reason to be pleased about it.

  7. @ Neil A

    There’s no legal grounds for intervention.

    In your work, don’t you deal with situations & families where you want to intervene but can’t? You hope & pray for the victims & potential victims but legally there is nothing you can do, correct?

    The vigilantes who would take the law into their own hands & ‘kill the perpetrator’ here in the UK do not have a monopoly on concern for the victims; nor do the interventionists have a monopoly on concern regarding the victims of armed conflicts.

  8. @Chrislane1945 – “I had not intended t come back here to comment after a personal attack on me here over the state of State Education provision.”

    I hope that wasn’t me? We did have a bit of a conversation on here about this, and I’m not sure if I’ve seen you since.

    If it was me that caused any offence, please let me know and I will apologise profusely.

  9. Anyhow, the key point is democracy is the winner, as the vote reflected public opinion from everybody I have talked too, and that is largely Conservative voters.

  10. @ Richard in Norway,

    From the Labour whips (biased, but they usually know the score):

    11 Lib Dem rebels, 13 abstentions.

    30 Tory rebels, 14 Tory abstentions.

    Seems like DUP abstained.

  11. @R Huckle

    The consequences of limited military strikes could be more severe than these recent atrocities.

    Machiavelli would agree with you. If you defeat an opponent you should either bring them into your fold by integrating them (like the Romans did to Britons) or utterly wipe them out.

    Just to destroy a limited target and stop will just provoke a reaction.

    (These are not my views, just what Machiavelli said in ‘The Prince’)

  12. @ Catmanjeff (11.21)

    “Nick will stay, and remain the focus for the venom the Liberal Democrats will face up to 2015.”

    I have my doubts about that. Having been out walking all day I did not see the debate but having read the comments about Clegg’s performance and knowing the level of opposition in the party, I suspect that by the LD conference his position will be untenable and there will be such opposition during conference that he will be forced to resign. Whether this will come from behind the scenes or whether it will be possible for the LD left to force a vote of confidence remains to be seen but one way or another I don’t see him remaining until 2015. If he is still in position then it will be wipe-out for the LDs.

  13. Alec.

    “Those Cameroons on here”

    That’s partisan and off-base for a start. I’m in no way a supporter of him, but if I had to choose between him, Blair, Brown and Ed, he’s the best of the bunch.

    The point I was making was that you can’t have it both ways. Either Cameron was desperate for war (did he attempt to circumvent the system or introduce dodgy evidence?), or he was taking the democratic method.

    I’ve noticed many comments on a more left-wing paper today, calling him all manner of nasty stuff, and they (like you?) won’t vote for him, regardless of the good decisions he makes on Syria.

    To sum up. The democratic system was used properly, and you seem to revelling in having at the one politician who bothered to use it. :)

  14. @amber

    There are probably no legal grounds for intervening in the stoning to death of a 14 year old girl for being raped in Somalia either. Doesn’t mean I’d be happy to stand by and watch it happen.

    We don’t really have any international law so far as I can see. What we have is a Security Council that can authorise action, but which never will because one member or another of it will always be in cahoots with the offender.

    Our international government is about as effective as Somalia’s.

  15. I just watched Cameron’s concession again – did it look like he was reading sections from a piece of paper? It would make sense that he would have considered what to say in the event of defeat, of course…

    Where is Malcolm Tucker when you need him?

  16. @Peter Bell

    The only outcome I can see is a Lib Dem wipe out. regardless of the Leadership.

    None of the serious contenders would step into his shoes now. Maybe they could have an interim Leader.

    The Lib Dems need to face their electoral bullets, and spend time out of the public eye and out of power to rebuild. It’s the only way they can renew themselves.

  17. Don’t you think that the relative positions of EM and NC will consolidate the 2010 Libs as Lab voters – this could be the biggest effect on VI

  18. Neil A

    As always a courteous response!

  19. @CL45

    Who would personally attack you, one of the doyens of UKPR :)

    Cameron made a terrible misjudgement about the mood of Parliament and the country. His haste was unnecessary. He should have just accepted the Labour motion. It covered most of his bases. Let’s put it this way – if we got to the UNSC and the vote went 10-6 (with Russia and China being among those opposed), although the Res would have been vetoed, DC may still have been able to pursuade Parliament missile strikes as the majority of the UNSC, the Arab League and others would also have supported it.

  20. “We are now in a position where even if the weapon’s inspectors return with a piece of shell casing upon which Assad wrote in his own handwriting “Maher, please fire this at some Sunnis, I’ve ordered another 1,000 for you to fire over the weekend” then we still won’t react militarily.”

    But, as RAF noted earlier, DC could easily have avoided this scenario by supporting the Labour amendment. Instead, misreading the Country, the House and his Party, he seems to have shot himself in the foot.

  21. Jusr heard Lord (John) Reid say he would have voted with.Miliband and against the Government as the Government was asking too.much of Parliament at this stage. That’s Lord Reid – one of cheerleeders of sidelining the UN over Iraq.

  22. @BRCrombie,

    I do (mostly) try.

    For me the most interesting fracture point politically is not the cat-and-mouse game between Miliband and Cameron (which is really just politics as usual), it is the divide between the Tory loyalists and the “UKIP Tendency” or Tory Taliban faction. This is what seems to have raised the hackles of Mr (and Mrs) Gove and I can see there being a lot of bad blood. It probably seems to the Cameroons that 10% of their party more or less take their orders, or at least their inspiration, from Farage.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the proposed action, the rationale of UKIP and the Tory-right isolationists always seems to me to sail pretty close to “Who cares about b****y foreigners? Why should we spend our money, and possibly the lives of our soldiers, to protect a bunch of Muslims”.

    How easy will it be for the party to overcome the bad blood from this rebellion? I think the best policy for the Cameroons would probably be to brush it under the carpet and move on. The PM should absolve himself of further involvement in the issue (other than presumably ordering our UN ambassador to support any US or French proposals, as futile a gesture as that might be).

    If I were him, I’d actually remove UK military assets (temporarily at least) from the theatre altogether, so that military action isn’t even feasible.

  23. Ashcroft’s just tweeted odds on next Tory leaders. Just thought I’d check there’s no prospect of a Cameron resignation? It’s a bad defeat but surely not that bad?

  24. @Woodsman,

    You’re quite right that the Labour amendment wasn’t so different to the original proposal that it probably would have suited the government’s purposes. I expect a combination of anger at what he perceived as gamesmanship from Miliband, plus a belief that the government motion would be passed, led him to press on.

    Having said that, quite a number of those who voted “no” made it quite clear that they were opposed to military action under any circumstances, and I am pretty sure the eventual “Go For Launch” vote would have been lost whatever happened today, so the end effect is the same.

  25. @Neil A

    Was it the Faragists who voted against the Government?

  26. As I was against military involvement in Syria I’m glad of the result, but I also see that this is a sea change for the UK on the world scene based on the vote tonight. the UK’s role in world events has been deminished,. something Labour may come to regret.

    I think DC should be praised for his stance and conviction even though I didn’t agree with him over Syria, only time will tell if EM is seen in that light depends to no large extent as to what happens next in Syria.

  27. @RAF,

    Mostly, although there were a couple of moderates like Woollaston.

  28. Just spotted this:

    Is Russia going to do a bit of peacekeeping?

    Maybe Cameron has been lucky.

  29. @Mr Nameless
    It’s very.bad for Cameron. These are rough times for him. However he showed great dignity after the vote and remains the Tories best possible leader.

  30. @Peter Bell – “I have not seen any suggestions in the absence of military action how we (the international community) should endeavour to prevent dictators killing their own people.”

    Mary Kaldor on the idea of Human Security (as opposed to traditional state/military approaches). EU could offer an alternative to the “superpower” model of global governance:

  31. Neil A – “so the end effect is the same.”

    But this way DC loses more face.

    I think you’re right though in that anger got the better of No. 10 today.

  32. RAF,

    I agree with you. No other prime ministerial candidate. Still, Kennedy was the best leader for the LDs in 2006 and they still defenestrated him! Parties can do silly things sometimes.

  33. To lose a vote on going to war would have been curtains for a Labour PM because of the furore in the right-wing media.But a Tory PM could possibly ride it out!

  34. What next for the Saudis and Qataris, the forces they have been so publicly backing are losing and the hoped for rescue by way of western air strikes begins to look unlikely. Neither one is so strong domestically that they can afford to lose face, the Saudis in particular have a large Shia minority who feel like second class citizens. There could be a twist in the tail here, foreign adventures gone wrong have toppled corrupt despots before

  35. For me the most surprising thing was Hammond being very clear that there would be no UK intervention. That’s not what (many of) the ‘No’ lobby were asking for – they were asking for a decision to be delayed. In his PoO, EM was very clear in asking that the Royal Prerogative not be exercised before another vote in the Commons.

    To come out and say that UK intervention was a dead duck was mind bogglingly stupid. If anything gives succour to Assad then that will.

    Long term it seems likely to be quite significant in terms of leadership perceptions. Cameron cannot but be badly damaged, and EM has once again come out on both the winning side and on the side of public opinion. I rather fancy that the very next PMQs will see him accusing DC of being ‘weak, weak, weak’, and it will stick.

  36. Russia Today; Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon refuse to participate in attacks or provide access to.bases or airspace.

  37. @ Robin

    I rather fancy that the very next PMQs will see him accusing DC of being ‘weak, weak, weak’, and it will stick.
    I hope not! This was about a serious foreign policy issue; Ed M should resist any suggestion that he indulge in ‘punch & judy’ politics.

  38. I dislike Cameron, but I can’t see how this vote will affect him in the polls.

    The public don’t care about things that didn’t happen, it’d be much more harmful to Cameron if this vote was passed, as there’d be outrage coming his way.

    Blair suffered a deep blow to his credibility after we went to war with Iraq, if he had failed to get us to militarily intervene, it may have harmed him a little at losing the vote, but he wouldn’t get the “war criminal” accusation thrown at him.

  39. Raf

    That’s a major U turn by Jordan, they have been heavily involved in training the “rebels”

  40. Don’t forget that only 10% of Tory MPs rebelled. This vote didn’t reflect a massive rejection of Cameron by his own party. The defeat is a combination of the realities of multi-party politics combined with a very emotive and contentious issue which isn’t really inherently party political in the first place.

    We have got into the habit of treating every vote in the Commons like a no-confidence motion, and thinking that it is wrong for a government to move to a vote unless they are 100% certain of a Yes vote. Better I think to propose what you actually believe in and see it stand or fall based on the will of the House.

    The great unknown is why there was a rush. All of this could have been avoided if the government had waited till parliament returned and then spent time sounding people out. There was clearly a military impetus to get action underway in the next few days (and I imagine the Americans will probably do that regardless). It does leave me wondering what they know that I don’t know. Or at least what they think they know…

  41. Cameron had to recall Parliament. There had been a joint letter from the Chairs of the Select Committees and calls from across the political spectrum. To refuse to recall would have just lead to an almighty row and calls for an immediate debate when the House met again. There might even have been a motion of censure or no confidence.

    Similarly, once he had actually be asked by Miliband (either quick thinking or good planning, that) there was no way he could refuse to renounce the Royal Perogative on this issue. What else is he going to say? “No, I’ll bomb whoever I want” and flounce out of the chamber like a four-year-old? (Admittedly by the standard of Downing Street press briefings today …).

    Furthermore both these actions are technically delegated from the Queen, so any attempt to use them against the power of Parliament could have caused a constitutional crisis.


    I’ve noticed many comments on a more left-wing paper today, calling him all manner of nasty stuff, and they won’t vote for him, regardless of the good decisions he makes on Syria

    I think Alec was just using ‘Cameroons’ as shorthand for Cameron’s supporters – who let’s face it have hardly been covering themselves in glory on the politeness front today, in any case. But have you looked at the comments about Cameron on the Telegraph and Mail sites? They make CiF look like a Jane Austen tea party.

  42. @Amber

    The issue was/is serious, but it nevertheless showed DC to be weak. A legitimate question is to ask how he can possibly represent the UK abroad when he does not have the support of either parliament or public opinion. How can he negotiate with foreign leaders if they have no idea if he can deliver?

  43. The polls told us what the public mood is and the MP’s reflected that mood, fair enough, but it does leave a bit of a vacuum now, where do we stand on the state abused, especially those abused by proscribed methods. Do we just say, c’est la vie ? I think our balloon is punctured and we’ll just disappear from the world’s police force like a fart in the wind. I must say I’m a bit confused about the implications of tonight’s circus, perhaps, as an ex-banker, I wouldn’t be able to connect to the zeitgeist anyway.

  44. @RiN

    I doubt the US needs Jordan’s support to.launch Tomahawk.missiles, so perhaps Jordon is simply being.savvy.

  45. @RM

    I tend to look at left-wing papers when the gov is doing something, and right-wing when the opposition etc.

    It makes for a better read, seeing whether the natural opposition [people of one side or another] are changing their views, or are as partisan as ever. :)

  46. @MITM
    Yet despite taking us to war in Iraq, Tony Blair still won a comfortable majority at the GE two years later, I don’t see Cameron achieving that after today’s vote

  47. ” think our balloon is punctured and we’ll just disappear from the world’s police force like a fart in the wind. ”

    Here’s hoping. The idea of being in the world’s police force never sat right with me, mainly because we would always intervene and make a mess of it.

    Is Libya a better place than it was in 2010, no, is Egypt no.

    The UK and the West in general have a knack for pouring petrol on the fire and making things worse. Was Gadaffi a nasty piece of work, yes, is Assad, yes, but would we prefer them in power to some Alqaeda backed, Muslim Brotherhood member, for our own safety, I think we would.

    Also I’ve never gone along with this idea that unless we go along with everything the US say we will lose influence. If we hand our foreign policy over to the US we have 0 influence. If we pick our battles right, then we have influence.

  48. Shelts,

    Bear in mind that Tony’s majority was cut by nearly a hundred, it was only because he had such an enormous landslide in 2001 that he kept power!

  49. …and that the war was only two years old at that point.

  50. @Neil A
    I don’t think they know a great deal more than you know. Perhaps less!

    Why the rush indeed. Perhaps they were worried the weapons inspectors might have found something unexpected? I really don’t know.

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