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. Interesting account in the Guardian today about refugees fleeing Syria.

    Apparently there has been a huge and rapid increase in the use of the VIP lane that lets Hezbollah and regime supporters cross over unchecked.

    If true it might indicate that Assad’s friends are starting to desert him or at least run for cover before the West takes action.

    In Iraq,Libya and Kosovo this was a sign that the balance was shifting away from the regime and that the loyalists who’s support was based on patronage were having doubts.

    Therefore the psychological impact on the regime of an attack may be far more significant than the physical damage as those around Assad may being to think that they are no longer safe or immune.


  2. Interesting Peter. It seems to run counter to the “run of play” in the war itself. I wonder if it’s a temporary exodus by people expecting a couple of weeks of aerial bombardment.

  3. I don’t want to abolish the Security Council, I just think it should have some real point for the non-permanent members. Maybe SC members elected by the Assembly and motions carried by two-thirds majority?

    Also, France and Britain (and arguably Russia) aren’t superpowers anymore. It at the very least makes little sense them being there.

  4. News media are reporting that military strikes are not going to happen without a UN resolution.

  5. Think people are moving against the use of limited military strikes being used.

    See this link from NBC interviewing retired US general who thinks such limited strikes would be inaffective.

    By the time HOC debates this, I think Obama may rule out the US being involved at the moment.

  6. Getting back to the thread… I got the impression from Nick Robinson’s report on Today that the 2:1 against YouGov verdict was the cause of some concern.

    Peter Kellner came on to say that Don’t knows may swing behind the government/our troops in the immediate aftermath of an attack, but could drain away equally quickly thereafter.

  7. Of course Russia doesn’t want to lose a client state and it’s warm water port in the med, not to mention their stranglehold on gas supplies to europe. They don’t give a stuff about the people of Syria, and why should they, they have their own people to worry about butpointing out rRussia’s ulterior motives doesn’t make us into the good guys. There aren’t any good guys!!

    There is plenty of evidence from WikiLeaks and various news sources that we and our allies have been working on this for a long time, probably long before the coalition came to power. But even without that it’s just ridiculous to believe an armed resistance groups or groups can spring up out of nowhere in such a short space of time to seriously challenge an established regime, it needs arms, training, logistics and intelligence. There is no way that this situation could have developed without huge amounts of outside help. Ok, so no one is denying that the Qatari and Saudi’s have been supplying the funding, but can anyone honestly believe that they have done so without consulting and receiving the ok from the western powers especially the US, lol, not on your nellie.

    And look at the history, for years the US has been describing Syria as part of the axis of ev!l, we know that there was a plan to take out 7 countries in 5 years starting with Iraq, that plan fell apart a bit but only 3 of the 7 remain, Iran, Syria and Sudan, so regime change is a long standing goal of the US. Israel also wants regime change in Syria or better yet complete chaos, they still want to take control of southern Lebanon and it’s crucial water supplies. As I have already mentioned there is the gas pipeline issue so I’ll just skip over that. The Saudi’s want to weaken Iran as well, they are worried about their Shia minority which just happens to live in where most of the oil is pumped. Basically everyone has an angle and you would have to be pretty naive to believe that we are the only ones that don’t, but we have already proved that our interest isn’t purely that of an aghast bystander, we were the ones pushing for arms being sent to the rebels, we were the ones that wanted to take action against Assad the last time chemical weapons were used(it turned out that the rebels were the culprits) and now we want to take action again even though we don’t have the necessary proof(but I’m sure we are busy creating it) of course we have our own interests in Syria and while the public might have fluffy pink thoughts about humanitarian values, for our leaders both the visible and those in the shadows those fluffy pink thoughts are just to be exploited to gain public support

  8. Billy Bob
    Yes, I believe the Syrian government is supported by a majority, at least to some extent (I don’t think the actual Assad tribe itself has the majority). At least, that is what I have read.

    Going back to Neil A’s history, there was a prior reason for the initial revolution of course and that was the encouragement given to protesters, which they took from the Arab Spring events. If they knew how it would turn out in Libya and Egypt, they may not have bothered.

    We have seen before how people have been led up the garden path by external events. The one i still feel painful about, as a memory, was the encouragement given to the shiite population in southern Iraq following the freeing of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.

  9. @mrnameless

    So a permanent council of US and China. That’ll be fun. :)

  10. Statgeek,

    That’s precisely my point. If there are only two and a half superpowers, there’s really no point having permanent council seats.

  11. Long post in moderation, hopefully it will pop out later, just hope AW don’t snip it into little bits

  12. Billy Bob

    Peter Kellner came on to say that Don’t knows may swing behind the government/our troops in the immediate aftermath of an attack, but could drain away equally quickly thereafter.

    He says something similar in a commentary piece on the YouGov site:

    My guess – and YouGov polls in the days ahead will prove me right or wrong – is that if Cameron does order a limited missile attack, then more people than today, and possibly a majority, would then back it. For one thing, a quarter of the public currently say “don’t know”; I suspect that many of them would back “our troops” once they are in action.

    But as I said before, I think he’s got the wrong analogy. The closer correspondence is with the bombing of Libya and support for that fell away once the action started, though then if remained fairly steady.

    It’s possible that “backing our troops” might apply if they actually go in on the ground , but the trouble for the government there is that support over Syria is so much lower to start with. Even getting all the undecided on board doesn’t get them beyond 30%.

  13. @howard

    Thanks. Sadly, whatever the ins and outs of Syrian public opinion may have been, it will have been driven out by fear, panic, confusion, lasting trauma etc.

  14. Why do so many people revere the UN Security Council? It’s a bit of a joke, with Russia and China doing the opposite of whatever the other members decide on.

  15. @Roger Mexico

    Ironically the YouGov responses were least opposed to an option that wasn’t being openly discussed, ie a “no-fly zone”. I wonder what direction questions will take in the coming days.

    Initially reports were that a two-day strike was being considered… now we are hearing about a longer campaign under consideration, with a view to “what comes after”.

  16. If Cameron wins backing of parliament or fails with any vote, what would be the consequence, if any, in terms of party polling/leadership ratings/election?

    If Ed Miliband votes with the government to back UK forces involvement in regard to Libya, what are the consequences , if any, in terms of polling/leadership ratings/election?

    If Ed Miliband opposes the government on using UK forces limited action on Libya, what are the consequences , if any, in terms of polling/leadership ratings/election?

    I don’t think Cameron will ask parliament for any authorisation on using UK armed forces tomorrow. The debate will be about what non military measures the government should be following and asking parliament to support the government in looking to hold the Assad regime to account for their actions.

    On the otherhand if Cameron asks parliament to consider UK forces involvement in limited military strikes, I think this will be subject to opposition on all sides of the HOC. It could potentially be damaging for Cameron and the Tories in terms of polling, leadership rating and the next election. I cannot see any positives, unless there is a miracle and Assad steps down, with a new interim government put in place, to bring different factions together and to concentrate on looking after the interests of the whole of Syria.

    Ed Miliband will gain more for opposing UK forces being involved at the stage, because he is still trying to show that Labour have moved on from Blair. If he leads Labour in supporting the governments use of UK forces, then I suspect that he will lose support of many people Labour need to win the next election. People could actually see it as stronger leadership to oppose, as to stand up and make the argument for a different approach would be a bold move.

  17. Billy Bob

    The famous mission creep has started already!

    Incidentally the reports that the brother of Assad was responsible for the CW attack comes from the Israeli intelligence services. But we can safely assume that they are neutral in this conflict, lol

  18. @Mrnameless

    Yes, but the US won’t see it that way.

  19. @ R Huckle

    You appear to be having a wee bit of deja vu about the Syria thing; in your last & previous comment you have written Libya a few times, when I’m fairly sure you meant to write Syria.

  20. Didn’t Bashar’s father, Hafez , who came to power in a military coup ,put down a rebellion in Hama in the eighties?-10,000 dead I believe.

    The Ba-ath Party has not overseen a settled & harmonious Syria for fifty years, and his Alliance with Russia goes back three decades to the days of the Soviet Union.

    The Ba-ath Party & Russia have deep roots in Syria.

  21. Amber

    Well Hague has just said that, Syria is not Iraq, which does leave open the possibility that Syria is libya

  22. The Al-Assads are Alawites-Shia Muslims

    Alawites -the governing religious group in Syria , make up 12% of the Syrian population.

    Christians account for 10%.

    Sunni Muslims account tor 60%

  23. Richard,

    Although I agree Israel has a track record of saying what is in it’s own interest I think this one stacks up for two reasons.

    Firstly I am not sure they actually want to see the back of Assad. True they never liked him much like Mubarak in Egypt but they were the “Devils they Knew”.

    I think the prefer a predictable if nasty neighbour than a chaotic one. Like them or not for decades Syria and Egypt have caused far fewer problems that Gaza or the Lebanon.

    Secondly while the focus has been on the CW’s I think the Israeli’s and US’s have been looking at the delivery system.

    Israel in particular will be trying to track every aircraft, missile and shell fired over the border to make sure it isn’t coming their way.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they are pretty sure from the target positionand time of the attack exactly, what was fired, from where, by who.


  24. Peter
    That’s the evidence they need to produce.

    Anyway, about HS2….

  25. Howard,

    “That’s the evidence they need to produce.”

    True but tricky, as they are notoriously cagey about revealing just how good their surveillance capability is. They still don’t even admit to Misty!

    As to HS2 I’ve never been a fan and not just because it wasn’t coming to Scotland any time soon. When you can fly to London for £20 in an hour spending £60 to do it in 6 always seemed a hard sell.

    I’d far rather have spent our share ( a couple of billion) upgrading the existing rail network up here. I suspect that is what we would do after Independence, that and King Salmond’s Private Train!!!


  26. According to Nicholas Watt on Twitter, Labour will vote against the government tomorrow unless its amendment passes. Can’t specify what amendment that is yet but I’ll keep you updated. I would guess it would mandate UN approval – essentially a straight no vote.

  27. Oh, here we go:

    “Labour will table our own amendment on Syria in the Commons tomorrow. Our amendment will insist the Prime Minister must return to the Commons after the UN weapons inspectors have reported. Parliament must tomorrow agree criteria for action, not write a blank cheque.”

  28. Any polling on French attitudes to military action? The Norwegians haven’t been asked so far but the Danes sound like they are up for it, mind you that’s their govt, I can’t imagine that ordinary Danes are excited by the idea

  29. Colin

    Syria has always been ruled in a secular way, I’m not sure that religious differences have been important before now although it’s possible that sectarian tensions were there lying dormant

  30. BBC & Sky News reporting UN Inspection team confirm use of chemicals in Ghouta. They now report back to UN.

    Syria at UN demands they stay in Syria to examine a number of sites where “Syrian Soldiers” have been effected by chemical attack.

  31. In terms of affect on polling, I think Ed Miliband has decided on a course of action that many will be supportive of. Many Tory backbenchers have commented that they are worried about rushing into military strikes and I think many Lib Dems will also not support a government motion if it enables UK forces to be used.

  32. Ban-Ki-moon reported as saying the Inspectors need 4 days to report back to him.

    I presume this does not include for the additional inspections which the Syrian regime has just called for.

    I can’t see a strike on Syria whilst the Inspectors are still in the country.

  33. “@Amber Star

    @ R Huckle

    You appear to be having a wee bit of deja vu about the Syria”

    Geography was never my best subject. I did mean Syria, but I suppose that in the back of my mind, I may have been thinking that the success Cameron had with Libya, may be colouring his judgement. All PM’s seem to enjoy getting involved in international issues. These missles that would be used cost about £1m each, which would pay for a lot of apprenticeship opportunities for young people to be sponsored by the government.

  34. which would pay for a lot of apprenticeship opportunities for young people to be sponsored by the government.

    Perhaps in the defence industry for British Aerospace

  35. Just a quick.word on how the UNSC works. Remember this if we hear talk of.”unreasonable vetoes” scuppering the passing of a war resolution: a vote of all members is taken. It is only if a majority are in favour that the veto comes into play. Blair could.not even.muster a majority in the Iraq vote. Can Cameron do any better?

  36. RIN

    According to @ RHuckle:
    ‘These missles that would be used cost about £1m each, which would pay for a lot of apprenticeship opportunities for young people to be sponsored by the government.’

    This is your opportunity to explain YG applied economics in terms we can understand:
    how many apprenticeships de you get per dead Syrian? (As against the benefit of not sending the missiles, so not killing them.)
    how does this relate to “money really means debt”?
    No, somehow I don’t think these riddles will qualify for our Christmas crackers this year.
    Better not send the missiles.

  37. John

    Oddly enough I did have some thoughts on that, but I will keep them to myself, I don’t want to be popping any pink fluffy bubbles

  38. @John Pilgrim – “the benefit of not sending the missiles”

    We’d be spared the tripped-out-on-adrenaline “job of work to be done” interviews at the very least.

  39. @RAF

    No vote was ever taken on the proposed Iraq SC resolution. It was never vetoed. What happened was that it was made clear that it would be vetoed, and as such Blair decided not to put it to a vote. It isn’t clear how many votes the resolution would have had – the minimum is probably four, but we will never know if the other five needed (out of eight left) could have been secured.

  40. Something from Gary Gibbon:


  41. Cameron’s agreed to the proposed Labour amendment, and there will be another vote when the inspectors report back.

  42. I think the Syria proposal tomorrow has considerable merit.

    Given the Iraq hangover, extra time to consider more evidence and another vote seems to me to be better than the rather open initial motion.

    It probably won’t change VI though – nothing seems to these days….

  43. Once again it would seem that EM has called this right.Always not a good idea
    To rush to judgement.

  44. @The Sheep

    You are vote was taken. But it was clear that Blair did.not have a majority on his side. Most “neutral” members wanted Blix to be given more time to.complete his work.

    My point is that talk of Russia and China potentially vetoing any finalised draft proposal is facile if it did not have the necessary votes approved even.if there were no.veto.

  45. Cameron had no choice but to agree for Parliament to take more time, so that any decision is made with as much information as possible. In terms of polling, some people may reflect that Labour did hold the government to account and have moved away from the Blair type rash interventionist policies of the past. So may be a win for Labour/Miliband polling and no harm done to the Tories position.

  46. @R Huckle

    Given the life and death situation involved, both Miliband and Cameron have handled it well. Calm, reserved, cautiously and no jumping up and down about it. It is a time for considered agreement and not tribalism.

    If they appeared to be playing politics with this decision, it would back-fire badly.

  47. Catmanjeff

    and what about Willie Hague – he didn’t seem very calm the other day?

  48. @BCrombie

    He’s just the monkey…

  49. As a Conservative supportor, I agree more with EMs position, although I do think its a little poor he came out with it late in the day so to speak.
    Listening to William Hague effectively say we don’t need the UN inspectors report in advance of any action, just reminded me of Blair and Iraq. I think it’s a huge mistake to intervene here, regardless of the unpleasantness of Assad’s regime.

    As an aside, I was driving down a local well used road today, it was covered in pot holes, and I thought of our current youth unemployment and how you could employ thousands of young apprentices repairing our roads. To think we might start spending tens of millions yet again bombing or striking a distant country is just totally beyond me.

  50. “@ bcrombie


    and what about Willie Hague – he didn’t seem very calm the other day? ”

    That is the job of the foreign office minister to reflect the feelings of the UK. You have to sound serious, as otherwise I doubt anyone would take any notice. If Hague had come out with some bland statement on Syria, it would not have been reported. The US Secretary of State made a very similar statement to Hagues.

    It is just making a point and then you can then see what happens in regard to international dipplomacy obtaining relevant agreements on actions that are required.

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