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. It’s not a question of reacting too quickly or waiting for further evidence to become available….MPs (and most of the British public) just don’t want us interfering in foreign wars unless our own national security is threatened directly, under any circumstances.

  2. @ Neil A

    “It is in the grip of a dispute over security at oilfields which is crippling its output (temporarily)”

    But how temporary? I think this is more than a minor Health and Safety issue where big oil companies want belt and braces on their security. The situation is that various armed militias control these areas and the oil companies do not feel that they are sufficiently loyal to anyone to ensure the safety of their workers. I can’t see this being an easy obstacle to get over and if the economy tanks in the meantime it will become even harder.

    I do agree with your general points though. I also think there is no progression, however slow and sometimes backwards, without a democracy and basic human rights set in stone.

  3. DC bent to the concerns of his critics in yesterday’s motion-but stood firm on what he believed should be done about the 21st August gas attack. He knew, in taking that stance, that even a win in HoC would not bring support in the country.

    EM had the spector of Dodgy Dossier hovering over him-he went with public opinion .

    We will now see what the public think of these two positions.

  4. @Ambi

    You might be right, but the HoC would have backed the Lab/SNP/PC motion had,DC, thrown his weight behind it.

  5. Genuine question (I ask no other kind but I’m just saying this for the avoidance of doubt).

    What IS the Special Relationship?
    How does it manifest itself in concrete terms?
    And, crucially, what is its benefit for the UK?

  6. @Colin

    I’m not sure I understand you. If DC knew he couldn’t win a vote, why table the motion? It makes no sense. This isn’t solely about public opinion, it’s about HoC opinion.

  7. The effect on VI will be to put the anti Iraq returners and 2010 Libs firmly in the Lab camp. It is pretty bad for Libs as Clegg’s position was completely opposite what you would expect the Lib position to be. I don’t see them getting voters back now so probably makes a Lab.majority fairly likely.

  8. @RAF,


    I wonder what effect the Syria situation will have on the polls and personal ratings of each leader? I suspect there may well be a small short-term boost for Labour (though this hasn’t shown up in polls so far, it may do as coverage filters through and wounds DC)….but I expect this would fade fairly quickly. The more interesting aspect will be what effect this has one the personal ratings of the leaders….particular DC and EM. Will it make DC look weaker and EM stronger? This could potentially have an effect on how the electorate see EM as leader, both in short and long term. And DC.

  9. It’d be interesting to hear from someone who could spell out what advantages this ‘special relationship’ has given us.

    Obviously you only really hear about the negatives, Iraq war, rendition etc. But I’m struggling to come up with positives from the special relationship- an ear to the president? There was no support in the Falklands War (albeit that we didn’t really ask) probably because they saw their relationship with South America as being more important than our ‘special relationship’.

    Certainly if you compare the average American’s view of France compared to Britain there are probably benefits- we’ve always got their back whereas France runs away from everything type thing and maybe that affects trade but at the moment I am not really quaking in my boots at the thought of losing the special relationship- I may be being naive?

  10. @Turk

    “doggy dossiers”,

    I’ve heard of dogging dossiers, but this is a new one on me! lol

    As for recent events, I think Walter Bagehot will be stirring pleasantly in his grave today having witnessed the Legislature re-assert it’s authority over the Executive in the Commons last night. Not only was that a triumph for democracy but it also produced a wise and right decision. In many ways, that outcome trumps any party political calculation, although to us old politicos on this website, ignoring the “who’s up and who’s down” implications would be a temptation too great to resist, I guess!

    Miliband’s status has undoubtedly been enhanced and Cameron’s diminished, but whether this feeds into voting intention may depend on how events play out in Syria. I know all this may sound terribly tabloid – that’s the way the cookie tends to crumble in domestic politics – but the mortal danger for Cameron will be this image of him scuttling back early from his holiday to do Obama’s bidding and then failing to deliver for the US President having misread both Parliament and, crucially, his own party. Maybe Geoffery Wheatcroft is penning a “Yo, Cameron” biography of Cameron as we speak!

    The Commons exchanges between him and Miliband seemed a bit of a score draw from what I saw, but the media interpretation, crucial to the vast majority who won’t have seen the Commons debate, seems to have Miliband as the clear winner. Extraordinarily, Nick Robinson on this morning’s Today programme gave an unremittingly doom and gloom assessment of the political implications for Cameron, admittedly given in a sorrowful and depressed tone. Had he been assessing Miliband similarly you’d have probably heard the droplets of saliva dribbling down his jaw (apologies to all those laptop users still enjoying their breakfasts! lol).

    I’m always loathe to draw tectonic-plate shifting conclusions from single political events, and I tend to agree with Neil A about how important all this will eventually prove to be in terms of determining the outcome of the next election, but considering a major plank of the Tory electoral strategy seems to be to rubbish Miliband’s leadership at every opportunity, then anything that reduces the effectiveness of that attack must have some lasting significance.

    Maybe one of the key factors may prove to be that Miliband’s stance on Syria shores up his recently, post -2010, acquired Lib Dem support. If he hangs on to most of that then it’s difficult to see how Labour will fall much below 37% in terms of electoral support. Now, that is significant.

  11. @RAF

    You are correct… all this posturing could of been avoided by the PM doing his homework and realising the situation and backing the amendment.

    Instead party politics got in the way again…

    The UN route was part of what the amendment asked for, and it would have bought time for the PM…

    His own fault in my opinion.

  12. @ Lefty

    You beat me to it and genuinely would be nice to have someone give an answer!

  13. It’s worth remembering that even Sunday’s YouGov polls will have been taken in large part before the result of last night’s vote was announced and nearly all before most people will be aware of it and digested all the coverage.

    It’s interesting to consider just how much the polls played a part in Cameron’s defeat. Most politicians claim to take no notice of them of course and I suspect that few have really taken in the polling revolution that online panels and Anthony’s daily polls have created here. But of course they do follow them closely and it must have been a reassurance to Conservative and Lib Dem rebels that the public and their own voters were on their side.

  14. TOH/Colin

    Lets hope DC doesn’t feel the need to go, I thought he acted with a lot of dignity last night I think EM will make a big mistake if he tries to make to much political capital out of this as time may find he gets the blame for leading the UK into a isolationist and isolated world.

    I’m not even sure EM will get much of a surge in the polls, with that chemical attack on the school yesterday in Syria a few more incidents like that and the spotlight may well swing back on the Labour party’s decission last night.

    On a happier note I see there is some good economic news coming out today, that’s why its important for DC and GO to stay in place, the country is on the up economically and the polls at the moment are reflecting that fact looking forward to some domestic politic’s with the polls getting very close, must get me one of those brackets apparently their very important..

  15. Leftylampton
    The Special Relationship between the UK and the United States is reasonably well defined and discussed on Wikipedia so I will not attempt my own definition. The clearest manifestations are mainly reflected in the close relationships of particular Prime Ministers and Presidents. Churchill and Roosevelt for most of World War 2, Thatcher and Reagan and the end of the “Evil Empire” and Blair and Clinton and G.W. Bush.
    What benefit for Britain? Arguably the first two of the relationships I have quoted were of benefit to the whole World not just Britain. Other than that I personally am a bit dubious about the benefits for either party. However my view is purely a personal one, British Prime Ministers of all persuasions seem to regard them highly.

  16. @Roger Mexico,

    “It’s worth remembering that even Sunday’s YouGov polls will have been taken in large part before the result of last night’s vote was announced and nearly all before most people will be aware of it and digested all the coverage.”

    Yep, it was conducted on the 28th to 29th August – so obviously after the public were aware that Cameron (and the government) wanted us to interfere militarily in Syria, but before the results of the vote were released. So it won’t reflect the fact that Cameron lost the vote, and all the humiliation that comes with that.

    I don’t think the polls matter too much per se….Syria is unlikely to be an issue that directly feeds into voting behaviour come 2015…so any Labour boost in the next few weeks is likely to be short-lived as more positive economic news is likely to take over and the coverage over the humiliations dies down. But it may be very important in two respects:-

    1) How the British public sees the leaders. At the moment, relative to their parties, EM is seen as being very weak (and generally very negatively), whereas DC is seen as more prime ministerial and a stronger leader (and outperforms his party). Will this alter these perceptions? I suspect the effect of the Syrian vote could alter the longer term perceptions of the leaders at least slightly, which for me is much more significant than any short-term polling shifts.

    2) Will it weaken DC within his own party, and with his own backbenchers and MPs?

  17. @Turk

    I would be amazed if Cameron resigned, why should he. Personally I will be happier to see him getting on with job of getting Britain’s economy back on track, which seems to be slowly happening.

  18. @Turk, TOH,

    I think pretty much everyone would be amazed if DC resigned.

  19. Miliband is making progess of a kind… those bulky shapeless 70’s suits have gone, perhaps to the Oxfam in Primrose Hill. Slim 60’s lapels suit him very well, and make him look rather sharp.
    By comparison Cameron looks a bit out of shape after his holidays.

    Max Hastings in the Mail seemed to think immature advisors had convinced him that Syria could be a Falklands moment.
    YouGov’s verdict – the Kellner commentary didn’t offer a great deal of encouragement – showed the scale of the mountain to climb.

    Cameron’s specifically mentioned HoC and *public opinion* in his final (pre-prepared) response to Miliband… deflated perhaps, but relived to be offered an opportunity to call the whole thing off?

    Regarding the special relationship… US and UK security apparatus becomes more melded by the year, futher protocols were added within months of the 2010 GE if I remember. Osborne was perhaps thinking of intelligence sharing this morning when he spoke about our place in the world as a trading nation.

  20. RAF

    I can only presume he did not know he would lose the vote in HoC. He made a number of sugnificant concession apparently in the final motion.

    Presumably he thought this was persuasive enough for those who had raised those concerns.

    THe Labour decision to vote against his amended proposal was clearly late coming & significant.

    Behind all of this presumably was a request from our greatest ally to help with an action on Syria following the chemical attack-DC had to respond to that-and he manifestly has strong personal feelings about CW in Syria.

    But having promised he would go through HoC-he had no option but to keep that promise.

    The open question is-what result would have emerged from a vote after the UN INspectors reported? To know that , you first have to know if they are going to lay blame-which everyone said they were not going to do.

    As DC told the House-it was all a matter of judgement.
    THe House split down the middle on it.

    ( does anyone know if Labour MPs were whipped on the Government motion ? )

  21. TURK

    Agree very much with your first para. Last night I thought I would wake to news DC had resigned & WH walked away too.

    I think there is water to flow under the bridge yet on this-for EM as much as for DC.

    THe public reaction will be very interesting-I hope we get some cecent YG questions drafted.

    Yes-economic news looks good.

  22. Hodges is so furious that he is leaving the Labour Party .This will cause immense regret.LOL.

  23. Dan Hodges left the Labour Party over Syria- so no more “even Labour’s own members are…” comments please!

  24. It was an excellent result; we need to mind Britain’s business and not worry about ‘world’ business. That should be solely for the U.N. – and if the Un doesn’t work well then reform it. Don’t be a bully boy like America; American ‘exceptionality ‘ – which it believes in – is merely American hypocrisy.

    I have a memory and a sense of history – Agent Orange still causes deformity in Vietnam (chemical weapon then?), depleted uranium shells in Fallajuh will continue to cause deformities for many generations to come in Iraq (USA again) and phosphor weapons supplied by the USA to Israel is again an evil weapon. But we are meant to agree with the USA about gas in a civil war which is neither of our countries business.

    We are broke and Cameron wanted to get us involved in a war which has nothing to do with us, so encouraging terrorists to view Britain as just another western country which ,likes killing Muslims (because that’s how the story will be sold) so making us less safe.

    We are well out of Syria…

  25. Wonder if Dan will be able to quote Labour insiders, Labour ministers, Labour strategists, Labour canteen ladies etc (all without a single name) now he is not in the party?

    Or maybe….just maybe….he was making it all up?

  26. I find the VI results this week really odd…

    Government attempts to join a massively unpopular war, but gains in voting share. How does that work?

    Anyone know what happened to Populus today? I thought they now report Monday and Friday, but nothing today?

    Anyway, so much happened this week, I guess we need to wait a week or so for things to settle down to see what the impact will be.

  27. The full text of the debate and votes are now on Hansard:

    Though because the Commons doesn’t list its votes by Party, you’ll have to do your own analysis of who rebelled.

    Full video is also available

  28. Crossbat

    I’ve had mild dyslexia all my life I have a tendancy to mis out letters or put them back to front It doesn’t bother me, but a few have felt the need to pass comment, if you spot anymore which you will that’s the reason.

  29. Blair always wanted a legacy. Last night’s vote was it. Probably not quite what he meant though!

  30. And just as I ask, where is Populus, here it is:

    Mike Smithson [email protected] 16s
    Today’s Populus poll has LAB lead up to 6
    Lab 39 (+2)
    Cons 33
    LD 12 (-1)
    UKIP 9 (-1)

    Which is more in line with what I would expect given the weeks events.

  31. I find it interesting that the MPs of Plaid and the SNP supported the (defeated) Labour motion as well.

    In the aftermath of the GE, those two parties might be expected to have between at least another 5 MPs to add to their current total of 9, possibly even more. That could be a significant number in terms of the permutations for either a coalition on the left or alternatively some confidence and supply arrangement.

  32. @Shevii

    “There was no support in the Falklands War (albeit that we didn’t really ask) probably because they saw their relationship with South America as being more important than our ‘special relationship’.”

    Intelligence and diplomacy, the airfield at Ascension Island, and above all, Sidewinder missiles.

    I believe they offered an aircraft carrier, but it was more a gesture, than one that was believed to be required. The UK was determined to go it alone. Like you said, we didn’t ask. The US’s biggest mistake was to dance in between two allies for too long and end up pleasing no one (diplomatically) at first.

  33. Ann in Wales

    Hodges is so furious that he is leaving the Labour Party .This will cause immense regret.LOL.

    For the full schadenfreude experience you should read his “Ed is rubbish” column in the Telegraph, obviously written and published just before the vote was announced. You’ll be shocked to know that Dan considers Miliband “[…]failed comprehensively. “Woeful”. was the analysis of a member of his own shadow cabinet”.

    What must have been even more distressing than the subsequent result was that this has so far attracted only 33 comments. The most popular of which is:

    Give it up, Dan. Ed Miliband won the vote on behalf of the British public; nobody gives a damn that he isn’t as slick as your hero, Tony Blair.

    by a certain Amber_Star

  34. I see only nine LDs voted against (thanks Phil). I can’t see that going down very well amongst natural LD supporters or lapsed supporters.

  35. I’m not so sure that it was all Iraq that caused the no vote last night, if that was the case then why was the intervention in Libya so popular(at least a lot more popular than Syria) I think that we all remember that we interfered in Libya on supposedly humanitarian grounds but it became very clear that we were actually involved in regime change, we went far beyond the remit of the UN resolution. Russia and China won’t allow a UN resolution on Syria because of the liberties we took with the last one, I wonder if the public also have the half truths of Libya in the back of their minds?

  36. @Roger
    “….you should read his “Ed is rubbish” column….”

    One of the few advantages of the Telegraph’s new paywall is that I’m not tempted to (and at the end of the month, can’t without paying for the pleasure). Much better to use up the 20 article a month ration on Telegraph columnists worth reading.

  37. Anyway about HS2………

    I have discovered that the IOD ‘HS2 is grand folly’ splash was in fact merely a ‘poll’ of its members to which only 4% replied. One can ponder as to which these were – not Metroland and Chiltern residents by any chance?

    I understand that George Osborne (note spelling) is to lead a fightback against this sort of thing. This is very brave, considering the pressure on the Government at present. Life has to go on (and we don’t even know what the UN inspectors will report yet do we?).

    I remarked a few days ago on the similarity of result between YG and Populus. I wondered if there were any significant method differences – anyone know?

  38. @Ambivalent Supporter

    “How the British public sees the leaders.”

    This is probably a slow-burner and we shouldn’t expect the implications to be immediately felt in the polls and we shouldn’t ignore either the “below the iceberg” ramifications of shifting perceptions of the leaders within their own parties. Cameron’s awkward squad came out to play again last night, usual suspects in the main, and his problems with a section of his own MPs have been lit up in stark relief again. This is likely to have a slow drip enervating effect on his leadership and will also undermine his standing with the public at large. It may also embolden those within his party who would like him to go.

    Miliband, on the other hand, slightly beleaguered as he is, will have won over a few internal critics and strengthened his position accordingly. I can’t see this having any immediate impact on the polls but, long term, he should benefit. Internal party discipline and morale are important, especially as elections begin to loom.

    One of the things I’ve always thought is strangely overlooked in the debate about the party leaders, and it’s probably because it is usually framed in the context of their relative positions vis-a-vis each other, is Cameron’s persistently poor ratings. He’s never been either a widely liked or respected Prime Minister, nor leader of the opposition, and I’m not at all convinced that he’s this electoral trump card that some claim him to be. Sure, he heads the ugly contest with Miliband and Clegg, but this is masking the fact that, individually, he’s held in fairly low esteem by the bulk of the electorate. This makes Miliband’s personal mountain a much more scalable one, in my view.

  39. Richard in Norway

    I suspect that in the case of Libya, what may have been on the mind of voters (and thus emboldening to politicians) was PC Fletcher and Lockerbie.

    As far as I know Syria has no such record of outrage against our people. Indeed Syria took part in the Gulf war to chuck Iraq out of Kuwait IIRC.

  40. I look forward to Hodges’ excuse for rejoining the Labour Party when he realises he’s thrown away his schtick.

    I’m not sure there is a more unintentially amusing political commentator currently operating.

  41. RiN

    Even after it became clear that regime change was going to happen in Libya an there was mission creep going on, support for intervention was still much more popular than for in Syria is now. And the support for Libya was much higher before intervention than during.

    I think the main difference was that people felt that intervention in Libya would actually make a difference (which it did) and hopefully save lives in the long run (which is at least arguable). Action was more practicable and would have immediate effects.

    With Syria even the strongest advocates didn’t claim that sending in the missiles would actually have much effect except somehow mysteriously ‘deter’ further use of chemical weapons by a process that was never explained. There was no thinking beyond “Something must be done”. What was really proposed was bombing to make us (or at least our leaders) feel better about ourselves. War as alternative therapy.

  42. Crossbat11

    As far as I can see, neither DC nor EM receive critique and disloyalty other than from ‘usual suspects’ and / or has-beens like Lawson, Hurd, Darling, Mandelson and the rest.

    I really do not think that such mid-summer madness lasts very long as an impact, when from those sources.

    What does wound hugely is disloyalty from front bench colleagues. Margaret Thatcher was brought down by these, not Neil Kinnock.

    I am not sure whether Burnham’s little moan counts. What is remarkable is that no one on Clegg’s side is willing to rock his boat, despite everything.

  43. “Though because the Commons doesn’t list its votes by Party, you’ll have to do your own analysis of who rebelled.”

    Hansard does list them but to save going through all the names then sorting them into parties, use Public Whip. It details every vote, rebellions & party – much easier to get the info quickly & clearly.

    @Phil Haines – not sure if you really want to know this but Telegraph blogs are free to access it’s just the main paper that’s behind the paywall (don’t go blaming me if you find yourself reading them though, lol)

  44. @Chris Riley

    “I’m not sure there is a more unintentially amusing political commentator currently operating.”

    Have you not read Simon Heffer?

    Talking of Heffer, I see he spreads his wisdom far and wide. Thumbing through an Australian edition of the Spectator at one of the many Aussie airports I wandered through over the last month or so, I noticed him laying into Kevin Rudd for the benefit of his adoring Australian readership. Drivel, as per usual, but tailored neatly for his antipodean audience.

  45. By the way, if these contributions seem like the dormouse at the tea party, it is because I could think of nothing to contribute while the UKPR parallel Syria debate was raging, that had any bearing on voting. We have now emerged into calmer waters hopefully.

  46. @Billybob

    “Miliband is making progess of a kind… those bulky shapeless 70?s suits have gone, perhaps to the Oxfam in Primrose Hill. Slim 60?s lapels suit him very well, and make him look rather sharp.”

    Great. We’ll be ok if the top job of PM is to appear on Gok’s show.

  47. I must say, though, like many others on here, I’m profoundly glad that I am not in a position where I need to make a definitive decision on action or otherwise over Syria.

    I think those, like the PM and Leader of the Opposition, who have appreciated that it is a difficult decision have conducted themselves well and that certain figures who have spat their dummies over not getting their own way have diminished themselves.

  48. @Howard
    ‘What is remarkable is that no one on Clegg’s side is willing to rock his boat, despite everything.’

    Perhaps it is because of ‘everything’ that no LD leadership hopeful is prepared to rock the boat.

    Leading a rump as Grimond did all those years is not an enticing prospect, one imagines. Still, big fish in a small sea and all that – a bit like Germany’s FDP perhaps?

  49. @The Other Howard – “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 appreciate you come at this from another angle, but I don’t actually think this quote matches the reality. As far as I saw, Labour were firm throughout the entire process – at least in their public utterances.

    I saw Ed M live on the BBC, two days before the vote, state very clearly that he set three key conditions for his support – the action had to be legal, the evidence had to be seen, and the UN must have a chance to see the evidence.

    I can’t vouch for what was said privately between Ed and Dave, but given that this was what Ed was saying on TV, it’s hard to conceived that he was saying anything materially different in private. At no point – no point at all – has Ed or any senior Labour front bencher, ever said that they don’t support action against Assad. Your characterization of the evolution of Labour’s position on this is simply wrong.

    Where I think the biggest mistake on this has been made is from Cameron in his last address to the HoC last night. He was asked by Ed to confirm that he wouldn’t use Royal Prerogative to launch an action without the support of parliament – note please, the element about the support of parliament – and he replied – “It is very clear tonight that, while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly.”

    In this, Cameron was entirely wrong. It is this statement that has caused the UK all manner of issues in responding to further developments, and also to some rather nonsensical musings from normally sane people about UK’s shame and isolationism (yes Paddy – I’m talking about you here).

    Labour was asking for a delay, and to see the evidence. They were absolutely not asking for intervention to be ruled out. Cameron was unable to provide the evidence, and was not prepared to accept a sensible decision making timetable. He therefore lost. He then compounded his errors by flatly ruling out action – something that no one asked him to do.

    A decent MP, with a clearer sense of strategic thinking, would have added a simple reassurance based on three little words ‘at this time’. He could have confirmed that the situation would be reviewed, parliament would be consulted, and evidence would be laid before MPs.

    Instead, he chose personally to rule out any action, and has himself created this doubt and confusion amongst our allies, and presumably relief of some kind in Damascus.

    For anyone to blame this on Labour is to entirely miss the point of what happened. It’s Cameron, and Cameron alone who has ruled out UK involvement in this.

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