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. Fair points

  2. There was something fateful about how the picture editors chose that shot of the PM arriving back at Downing St from Cornwall.

    Lord Chesterfield: Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him.

  3. @Shelts

    You are confusing the two issues.

    Blair won in 2005 yes, but with a majority much reduced from his 1997, and 2001 landslides, a big factor in this was that he actually did take us into an illegal war.

    Cameron in contract was never going to win the next election anyway, he’s HOC lost votes in the past, the fact that he lost another one tonight won’t be a deciding factor in 2015.

    In fact I’ve never heard someone say I’m voting for X because Y lost that vote in the HOC and he lost authority.

    In 2015 we will be talking about the Economy, unemployment, interest rates, and maybe some other issues like immigration, education and the NHS. Who voted what way in a war we never went into won’t come into the equation.

  4. @ Robin

    How can he negotiate with foreign leaders if they have no idea if he can deliver?
    ———–
    Indeed. From a foreign policy perspective, I think that it was William Hague who made a real mess of this. He agreed (volunteered?) to rush a proposed resolution to the UN so that UN backing could be ruled out by Russia & they could crack on with assembling a coalition of the willing.

    Then Wm Hague couldn’t deliver – & worst of all, it was his own Party which he couldn’t deliver. Very hard on Cameron – he will be left holding the bathwater when it was Wm Hague who chucked away the baby!

    But Cameron has a chance to show whether he’s weak or not. Clinton (Hilary) went soon after the Libya debacle; Cameron could take the opportunity of the pending reshuffle to axe, or at least demote, Wm Hague. Will Cameron have the guts & clout to do it?

  5. @MITM

    Yes that is true but this could lead to further disunity within the Tory Party, could even result in defections to UKIP.

    It just continues the slippery slope that Cameron is on. The electorate don’t like disunity and although today won’t have a direct result on voting intentions, the fall out may very well do

  6. @ Billy Bob (12.01)

    Thanks for the link.

    Mary Kaldor refers to an “International rule of Law” and “a means of ensuring that rule of law”. Totally agree with this concept but how is it to be achieved. It will never be achieved while the “5 powers” in the UNSC have the power of veto. IMO the power of veto should be removed.

    This will not be acceptable to the US (re Israel) or to Russia or China (re anything that questions their democracy or area of influence) but to me it is the only way forward. You could then have an enlarged UNSC with say Germany, Japan, India & Brazil as new permanent members and with any vote requiring say 75% in favour.

    A new UN armed force should be introduced to act as peacekeepers but they should have authority to use force when necessary.

  7. @MitM,

    I’d say Libya is definitely a better place now than in 2010. I have always thought we got that intervention about right. Egypt? Well we didn’t intervene there, so I am not sure what you are suggesting. Democracy in the Middle East is a non-starter maybe? Not very positive thinking.

    Personally what I’d have liked to see was a massive intervention in Syria about two years ago, led by Turkey with NATO support. That might have worked. At the least there would have been some safe areas of northern Syria where refugees could have sheltered. Ultimately I don’t think Turkey was up for it. Perhaps they are sensitive to their own Imperial/Colonial history.

    Now I don’t think there is a solution available. They’ll just have to batter themselves until one side is all dead or has lost the will to fight. That could be years, and hundreds of thousands more fatalities, but that’s Humanity for you. I don’t think half a dozen cruise missiles will change it in any case. Perhaps we can console ourselves that one of our “enemies” in the region will soon be reduced to a smouldering ruin, and that the regime will be much weaker and less threatening as a result.

    I guess in my heart I am a Neo-Con, all for using force to remove obstacles to democracy and liberalism. But my head knows that if that works at all it is only through a very slow, painful process that we don’t really have the stomach for.

    As for US-UK foreign policy, I think the talk of a breakdown of cooperation is fallacious (and probably wishful thinking from some on the left). The yanks understand our political system perfectly well. They know that our PMs, whilst powerful, don’t have a direct mandate and serve at the whim of parliament. Their system, whilst arranged differently, has more or less the same outcome. Congress can deny the President the funds he needs for all but the smallest of engagements. There will be future operations involving the UK and the US, I have no doubt about that. Our interests align very closely, if not completely.

  8. Neil A

    “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)”

    Perhaps. But (for once) Allegra Stratton on NN made a very perceptive comment.

    Tory strategy running up to GE15 has been predicated on the weakness of EM as a leader. Cameron relentlessly taunts him as a weak leader at PMQ. As Stratton said, how can he do that now? He has called and lost THE single most important vote in this Parliament. And he lost it because he totally mis-judged his own power over his party.

    I may be reading too much into tonight, but it seems to me that Cameron has just overplayed his hand badly and lost his trump card. This MIGHT be a decisive moment in this Parliament.

    I probably WOULD say this, being a leftie, but I thought EM’s question after the vote was an electrifying moment. He had the air of someone who had played a big hand and won. And he was going to make damn sure that he rubbed it in. It felt like authority draining out of Cameron and into Miliband.

  9. The Guardian’s posted some lessons from tonight’s vote and they make quite an interesting point. Miliband is the first Labour leader to take on both News International and the White House and win.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/2013/aug/29/mps-debate-syria-live-blog

  10. @Neil A

    Libya is not a better place than it was before the Arab Spring. They had one of the richest economies and most developed economies in Africa, they had budget surpluses and stability, yes they had a dictator at the helm who was authoritarian.

    Now they have complete chaos, there is a power vacuum which extremists are stepping into, their economy is in ruins, it will take years to get back to pre Arab Spring output, and the country is fracturing and breaking up into tribes and turning on each other. 3 years ago, people in Libya were unhappy with their dictator yes, but they weren’t dodging bullets in the streets.

    Egypt we didn’t intervene militarily, but we supported the ousting of Mubarak, and some in the west even welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood into power despite their history. The MB is to Alqaeda as Sinn Fein is to the IRA, the political wing of a terrorist organisation. Egypt has now become unstable and ungovernable, and it’s good that the military have stepped in to provide a strong man who can at least keep things together, and have removed someone imposing Shariah and restricting the rights of minorities and women.

  11. @Paul,

    I hope you enjoy living in a world without policemen.

    @Lefty,

    Maybe. I think it’s pretty early to be making those kind of judgements. Certainly the events of the last 24 hours ought to work to Ed M’s advantage, but how profound that advantage is will take some time to work out. How “weak” or “not weak” Miliband is seems to me to be just a reflection of how the polling is going. When Labour’s lead dips, he starts to get challenged, when it rises he looks more in control. So for me the test will be whether (as expected) tonight’s vote improves his ratings in one or two key polling categories – or even boosts Labour’s lead.

    It’s definitely a Big Political Moment, but like all moments it will fade over time and other news will crowd it out. As some have observed, it may have saved Cameron from a worse fate of being drawn into a military campaign in the teeth of public opposition. In particular it deprives UKIP of what looked like being a new cassus belli in their trench war with the Tories. Now they will have to go back to campaigning against HS2 and wind farms.

    My gut instinct is that, by 2015, economics will (as always) dominate the political agenda.

  12. Robin,

    So the principle would be that any leader who listens to foreign opinion on a foreign intervention would be “weak”? I know that that was Labour’s line over Iraq, but is it really the principle that Miliband wants people to take away from all this?

  13. * listens to domestic opinion.

  14. Good point Bill, which is why Cameron will be ok. He did rush in, but in the end was dignified.

  15. Mitm

    I read the Muslim brotherhood constitution for eygpt, it seemed quite reasonable to me. As I understood it the law would be based on the principles of sharia not on the practice in places like Saudi. The document also guaranteed full equality for women, and religious freedom. There were some things which were not ideal but it didn’t strike me as fundamentally flawed apart from the second chamber ideas

  16. The descriptions of today’s Libya make disturbing reading, it’s basically degenerating into petty fiefdoms and warlords, like Somalia but with oil

  17. The descriptions of today’s Libya make disturbing reading, it’s basically degenerating into petty fiefdoms and warlords, like a certain country in the horn of Africa(whose name triggers auto mod)but with oil

  18. Shariah is incompatible with a free and democratic society.
    Don’t make the mistake of confusing Shariah with Islam.
    Islam is perfectly compatible, as in Turkey (mostly)

    The constitution was incredibly flawed for linking religion and state, it would be a first step to taking further measures towards fundamentalism. Also the debate was not confined the the constitution, Coptic christians, Jews, secularists and women were being targeted by the Morsi regime.

    I am pleased by the Egyptian governments attempt to ban religion from politics, if they were to take this step, they would be ahead of the UK in this regard as we are still lumbered with an established church getting automatic seats in our parliament.

  19. RiN,

    So Mali, ah? He said, tricking the auto mod system.

    Anyway, it’s been an odd day. And so, to bed.

  20. @ Neil A
    “I hope you enjoy living in a world without policemen.”
    ——————————————————

    Ah …but sometimes self appointed policemen can get what it wants to police so wrong!

    A terrible domestic dispute is not helped or solved by an outsider throwing a brick through the window hoping it strikes the one who is adjudged to be offending. And then what happens next?

  21. Libya has a democratically elected government, and is overwhelmingly peaceful. It is in the grip of a dispute over security at oilfields which is crippling its output (temporarily) but in general I don’t recognize the description of it as akin to a “failed state”.

    It has massive problems with corruption, which is systemic (and always has been – originating under Gadaffi) and the democratic government is finding it very hard to impose its authority on a number of militia groups, although it continues to try. It is easy to understand that groups which fought tooth and nail for the revolution are reluctant to be disbanded.

    I suppose my question would be – which of Libya’s current problems have been caused directly by Western intervention, and wouldn’t have occurred upon the disintegration of Gadaffi’s state in any event? Or are we actually advocating Gadaffism as the right form of government for Libya?

    I think a lot of the time outside forces get the blame for problems that are inherent in the process of revolutionary change. Just look at the turmoil that the breakup of Yugoslavia brought – that wasn’t the result of American bombing.

  22. @Paul,

    But in the international arena it is self-appointed policemen or none at all.

    And at least the brick through the window has a 50/50 chance of stopping the offender. The brick sitting outside and not interfering has no chance at all…..

    I am fairly sure that Poland was grateful for the self-appointed policing of France and the UK in 1939, and probably wished they’d donned their helmets a little earlier (at the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law)…

  23. @Neil

    But the trouble is that the Syrian government is not about to embark on a military conquest of the whole continent.

    We did it in 1939 re Poland because we knew what was coming our way (and rightly so).

    The UN is the modern world policeman regarding domestics.

  24. Half-past-one and the website still busy.

    I’ve followed it eagerly, and compliment you all on a sensible debate (debate as in gentlemanly discussion of conflicting opinions, not debate as in slanging match).

    And, thank god (or who or whatever) we don’t get involved in more wars.

    And parliament shows, for the first time decades, that it isn’t a cipher.

    I go to bed with a smile.

  25. Neil

    I fully take on board your arguments, and I truly do not know whether a missile attack would aid or hinder the humanitarian cause. The problem is, the argument put forward today seemed little more than: Something must be done. This is something. Therefore this must be done.

    There is of course, a deeper political aspect to all of this. The reason that the pressure has suddenly been raised is because Obama stupidly painted himself into a corner. He was (morally) correct that the use of chemical weapons was a red line issue. But he did not appear to have thought through what the action required by the West would be, should the red line be crossed.

    Now it’s happened, he has to be seen to do “something” (see above) or be hammered as a weakling. And he needs to be seen to be leading an international force for political reasons (and probably in the UK case, for logistical reasons, given the proximity of Cyprus to Syria). So he’s tried to bounce Cameron into a quick decision. And Cameron’s had his bluff called by Miliband.

    Politics eh? Bloody hell.

    Meanwhile, kids are going to continue being killed in Syria, because we don’t really have the spirit to go in and stop it from happening. We were happy to ignore Syria when 100,000 were being killed. Why are the deaths of 300 additional people qualitatively different?

    The planned military action is/was nothing more than a Band Aid on Obama’s wounded public image. Why should we get involved with that?

  26. According to Philip Hammond “the result of the Commons vote.. would harm Britain’s relationship with Washington …..It’s certainly going to place some strain on the special relationship.”
    Yet, as one prominent Conservative MP has said ” the system worked”. Representative democracy, that is. An end to the assumption by right of unrepresentative authority.
    That is an outcome which is likely to resonate with the American people and their leaders, and will stand them and us in good stead.
    By the way the indictment of Assad belongs at the Hague, not with the Security Countil or in any self-appointed alliance, however grand, an irony that might strike the Foreign Secretary.

  27. US intelligence has said that the evidence regarding who used chemical weapons isn’t a “slam dunk”; there’s no “smoking gun” etc.

    President Obama, instead of chucking a brick through the window with only 50% chance of hitting the target, can now follow Miliband’s lead & say that he wants stronger evidence that it was definitely the Syrian government forces who ‘crossed the red line’. This would not leave President Obama looking weak; he’d look rigorous & sensible of public opinion.

    President Putin, if he wishes to look statesmanlike, can commend the US President for his calmness & good sense in paying heed to the UN; & then the G20 can proceed without the background being a crisis in Syria & rocketing oil prices.

    There’ll still be ‘that Snowden thing’ – but I think it suits the US for Russia to look after him for now. I’m not sure that the US would know what to do with Snowden, were he returned to the US.

  28. AMBER
    There is also the question, still to be played out, as to why Snowden, and others have found it worth while, at great personal risk, to blow the gaff on the American intelligence stock pile.
    The answer is because a vast proportion of it is, to coin a phrase, carp; or, more cod that there is in the North Sea.

  29. @ John Pilgrim

    I do not believe that it has sunk in with the public yet: that US & UK ‘intelligence’ is in the hands of outside IT contractors who can simply trawl in the sea of ‘carp’ then walk away with anything which takes their fancy.

    And, in theory, these IT chaps can easily create their own cod & disguise it as ‘intelligence’. It is very worrying.

  30. YouGov Update:

    Con 33
    Lab 37
    LD 10
    UKIP 12

    Approval -26

  31. Lab lead on a 5 day rolling average is now 4.5 %.

    The CUSUM data shows Con improving, Lab decreasing and UKIP and LD stable.

  32. On reflection I think all three leaders got a bit lucky here.

    Cameron has of course been weakened, but on balance I think it’s probably better to be weakened by a parliamentary defeat than by the prosecution of a disastrous war. People who believe the Syrian intervention would have gone well will of course disagree, but IMO Ed Miliband and the rebels saved Cameron from himself. The policy was unpopular and if anything went wrong Cameron would have been blamed. If the US decides to intervene unilaterally we may yet see how narrowly he dodged a bullet.

    Likewise Clegg. However much trouble he is in with his MPs and his activists over his support for this, it’s nothing compared to the trouble he would be in if the war had gone ahead. And a victory for Parliament over the executive and for non-intervention over bombing is a victory for Lib Demmery even if it comes at the cost of a defeat for the leadership. I wouldn’t be surprised if this actually shores up their VI, as their activists realise Lib Dem MPs can achieve something meaningful after all.

    And then there’s Miliband. It’s obviously nice to wound Cameron and to dictate British and possibly American foreign policy from opposition, but the biggest victory was that he’s slipped the noose of next week’s vote.

    We shouldn’t forget that Labour doesn’t have a policy on military intervention in Syria, and in fact cannot have a policy. Miliband is in roughly the same position as Clegg: the party leaders feel they have to provisionally support military intervention to remain credible, but their backbenchers and their voters categorically reject it. Labour’s whole strategy yesterday was to delay the march to war and the point at which they would have to make a firm decision, but next week Miliband would have been forced to come down on one side or the other and either way it could have been catastrophic for him. Both options would have pissed people off and given the media another excuse to accuse him of weakness. Now he gets to take the credit for stopping a war without actually needing to oppose one, and the media’s narrative is off “Ed is carp” and back on to “Cameron is weak and he can’t control his own party.”

    On the evidence of last night’s vote, it appears God is a Labour supporter, because He just served up a miracle to deliver their leader.

  33. NEIL A
    ” it is only through a very slow, painful process that we don’t really have the stomach for. ”

    Do we not? Several centuries of history and two world wars the aftermath of which in respect of an end to Empire and European rapprochement says we do.

    “As for US-UK foreign policy, I think the talk of a breakdown of cooperation is fallacious (and probably wishful thinking from some on the left).” Philip Hammon, for example? I am pleased to see he is seeing the error of his ways.

    Did you, by chance, see the BBC clip of Damascus city centre during their visit day before yesterday? Much, I thought, like Leweisham or Croydon Hight Street on a shopping night. My Dad, who was on duty as Air Warden with one other bloke on the roof of Maples Furniture Depository on the Thames during the fire-bombing of Docklands and the City, scooping up incendiaries, would, in his rude London way (which I have regrettably inherited) have know what to say about a missile attack on Damascus: “Have some bloody sense. There are people down there.”

  34. “Have some bloody sense. There are people down there.”
    That is what my 15 year old son said or words to that effect.

  35. @Statgeek – “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 think you are completely wrong on this – we can have it both ways. Cameron was clearly desperate for war, but he had absolutely no option but to recall parliament. That he misjudged the entire issue is his folly.

    I also agree with those who think his ending statement was folly. By appearing to scotch any UK involvement in intervention, he has gone way beyond what parliament asked for.

    Meanwhile – polls narrow. Perhaps seeing much of Cameron being Prime Ministerial has helped, but what happens next will be illuminating.

  36. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the next few days for the leaders of the two main political parties.

    DC has suffered a blow on this one issue which has far reaching consequences for the UK in the world and may feel it’s a resigning issue. Personally I hope he will stay, at least he had the courage to go to parliament and make this a truly democratic decision without any doggy dossiers, just laying out how he saw the situation and accepting defeat as the will of parliment and his back benchers.

    EM believes he has scored a major victory but whether this is refected in a surge in VI we will see, no sign of this so far,but it’s early days, he may find the public dont like the idea of the UK having a diminished role in the world, difficult to say, but at least Assad will have a smile on his face today.

    Interestingly if we are now going to go down the line of isolationism do we now need such a large armed forces.

  37. I just don’t think the UK public cares that much about bombed Arabs. Doesn’t seem that Assad is doing anything worse than the RAF did in Germany in April / May 1945.

  38. @Wolf

    Have you evidence that the british used poison gas against women and children in World War 2?

  39. “@ spearmint 7.11am

    On reflection I think all three leaders got a bit lucky here. ”

    Agree with your comment. Cameron was saved from going down a military route in Syria in a rushed way, without public support and without knowing consequences of actions.

    Clegg did not really want the Lib Dems to authorise any military action and would have been in a very difficult position in a second vote to actually confirm UK force involvement.

    Miliband put the brakes on military action, by just reflecting what many people are saying. i.e we should not rush into actions in Syria, when we don’t have enough information and without going through a proper process including the UN.

    I think this could do Cameron a bit of good, as if he reacts in the correct way, he could benefit. Perhaps the UK can be involved in Syria, by doing more on the diplomatic and humanitarian side. The UK public does not see anything good coming from firing in a few missles.

  40. @Turk

    I agree that Cameron has lost face although I thought his response to EM at the end was excellent. I don’t see it as a victory for EM, he prevaricated, initially supported Cameron and ultimately changed his mind when he saw the disunity in his own ranks and especially the possible resignation of Diane Abbott. I will be surprised if it has a major impact in voting intention, there may be a small rise in Labour’s lead for a few days but then I would expect a return to the slow decline in Labours lead and vote share.

  41. Back into mod again?????

  42. .Today’s Yougov shows yet another poll with Labour in the bracket. This is obviously before last nights disaster for Cameron. The episode was made worse when after the vote Michael Gove was heard to be shouting to other Tory MP’s “tra itors” and “Assad supporters” in a very high pitched, excitable voice.
    Will be interesting to see if last nights vote filters down into the polling results, and if they have any long term effect. I don’t think so, but we should see something from this weekends polls if it does.

  43. Strange that the word “tra..itor” puts a post into moderation.

  44. As far as British politics are concerned, yesterday’s vote will make it much harder for a future Prime Minister to go to war without consulting parliament, and I think that outcome is a good one.

    Rather like Turk I am less sure about the results in terms of popularity of various party leaders, and it is much too soon to look at the international impact. History will not stop on 29 August 2013.

  45. My opinion for what it is worth…
    The problem with politicians repeating “we understand the mistakes of Iraq”… I still don’t think they do.

    Libya being the problem for me, the politicians used the wording for the “no fly zone” as a carte blanch, for regime change, that’s why it will be so hard to get Russia and China onboard again.

    After the vote last night I am slightly disappointed but that is the problem for politicians, maybe being honest and truthful without twisting the use of words or statistics would be a start, if we cannot trust our politicians to be honest is a real problem, coming on the TV and saying how sad they are that the public will is being followed (losing the vote) is really dumb and full of hypocrisy.

  46. TURK & TOH

    I agree with your thoughts.

    There is still an end game at the UN to play out, to which HoC may have to react-including Mr. Miliband.

  47. ALISTER

    @”As far as British politics are concerned, yesterday’s vote will make it much harder for a future Prime Minister to go to war without consulting parliament, and I think that outcome is a good one.”

    It is -and reflects credit on DC.

  48. alister1948

    Agree with your comments but I do think this will have an impact on Britains standing the World and ceratinly it will have some impact on the special relationship which is what I think Camerons initial response was all about.

  49. @Wolf

    I hope the British public does care about bombed and indeed gassed Arabs, or for that matter anyone else in the same situation – whatever side they are on in whatever conflict.

    @Turk
    What role in the world? The problem is that we puff out out our chests of the international military scene as if we are some sort of Colussus, when that ceased to.be the case some time ago. DC has been overreaching what he could actually do on Syria for some time.

    DC should have backed the Lab motion.

  50. @RAF,

    I disagree. That both the Labour motion and Cameron’s (i.e. the government’s) one failed says to me not that MPs want more evidence for military action to take place….but, rather like the British public, they do not want military action full stop.

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