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. @statgeek

    “Gok Wan and Girl Guides want to ban the airbrushing of models in the media…”

    politicians on billboards also perhaps?

    You obviously did not glimpse the note which EM passed to Diane Abbott after the vote, which read: “Britain may be a small country but we are a great one.”

  3. Alec

    You may well be right but that’s not how the public will see it

  4. @ Billy Bob

    “Gok Wan and Girl Guides want to ban the airbrushing of models in the media…”
    I knew the Girl Guides were a bit retro but “airbrushing”! that’s sooo last century; they must surely mean digital enhancing. ;-)

  5. Alec

    You are right and that is how the public will see it.

  6. @Alec

    Obviously we disagree about how events unfolded, never mind that’s history now.
    I agree with your ” It’s Cameron, and Cameron alone who has ruled out UK involvement in this.”

    I don’t have a problem with that in doing so he has , somewhat belated recognised that the British people do not support action. I cannot see those same people being very anti that decision do you?

  7. @Alec

    I agree absolutely. What Labour need to do today is to criticise this horribly ill-judged statement by Cameron, not only to drive home that it was him that said it, but to keep alive the option for action later on.

    Although I’m still completely in the dark as to what useful action might be taken. I’m quite sure that if US/UK/Israel knew where the chemical weapons were, they would have been bombed without any waiting for the UN or anyone else (easier to gain forgiveness than permission). And nothing else seems to make any sense.

    On other matters, the pictures of the victims of an incendiary bomb last night were pretty horrific, and this looked very much like white phosphorus. Unfortunately we probably won’t hear much condemnation of this, because the foremost recent users of white phosphorus are Israel.

  8. As a member of the public in this case (I took no interest in the debates) I think Alec has it correct because that’s how I see it and I really had no axe to grind. EM played a blinder from beginning to end, it would appear..

    I don’t think DC will necessarily suffer but I have always written here that, to my mind, he is someone happier taking advice than giving it (admirable) but he seems to be surrounded by some very hot-headed people it would seem from the No 10 quotes. His reaction to the vote seems equally admirable and indeed he can always come back on the issue if needs be.

    I don’t see any huge effect on VI in this case and after a weekend, it could all change in atmosphere anyway, depending on the UN..

  9. Phil & Chordata

    Thanks for the links.

    The Public Whip site actually shows 11 Lib Dem rebels plus another 15 possible abstentions (including one double-voter). The Conservatives had 30 rebels plus 34 possible abstentions (including one double voter and two ministers who didn’t hear the bell). Some abstentions may have not been able to get back to the House on time, though given that they were due back on Monday anyway, there can’t have been many of them still half way up a Himalaya or whatever. Still there must have a few such as Ken Clarke with ‘unfortunate’ “scheduling problems”.

    Labour had six ‘rebels’ on their own amendment, but all voted against the main motion too, so I assume they weren’t avid for war Blairites.

    If you compare the votes with the Labour amendment there seems perhaps only one Conservative who opposed that and then abstained. However five Lib Dems seem to have done that and perhaps eight from Labour. Did the latter lull the government into a false sense of security?

    What is clear is that the government did not expect to be defeated, Cameron and co weren’t just angry they were shocked too.

  10. Sorry I got confused there. What I meant was that eight Labour MPs appeared to have abstained on their own amendment and then voted against the government. This could have lead the government into thinking that they needed fewer votes than they did to win.

  11. @RM

    “two ministers who didn’t hear the bell”

    Of course they didn’t. Nor did they know what time the division would be happening,

  12. @Amber Star

    Retro always preferable to macho in my book. Maybe someone could rewrite this Sinitta classic as a tribute to Ed:

  13. ALEC

    @”In this, Cameron was entirely wrong.”

    THe Government motion starts with this :-

    “That this House:
    Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries of Syrian civilians;
    Recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under international law;
    Agrees that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on saving lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons;”

    It was voted down-Cameron is correct in saying ” “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.”

    Your suggestion that inserting “at this time’” would have been “strategic” is nonsense.

    First of all EM , having just asked , on a point of order that DC would not use other powers available to him, would have smelt a rat & gone bananas.

    Second of all the Government motion went on to include all the caveats about future events./ information emerging at the UN -and to say in terms that a second vote would be sought.:

    “Believes, in spite of the difficulties at the United Nations, that a United Nations process must be followed as far as possible to ensure the maximum legitimacy for any such action;
    Therefore welcomes the work of the United Nations investigating team currently in Damascus, and, whilst noting that the team’s mandate is to confirm whether chemical weapons were used and not to apportion blame, agrees that the United Nations Secretary General should ensure a briefing to the United Nations Security Council immediately upon the completion of the team’s initial mission;
    Believes that the United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and that every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken, and notes that before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place”

    “At this time” is irrelevant-all obvious contingencies were covered-they were all voted down.

  14. @ Phil Haines

    I’ve not come across this DT paywall yet? Is it really in place because I would have thought I read more than 20 articles in a week let alone a month.

  15. On the polls, I wonder if there may not be a great I impact, but a more subtle sub current running against Tory prospects.

    In terms of domestic politics, I think the runaway significance of this issue isn’t the relative positions of Tory and Labour fortunes, but the dazzling light it shines once again on Cameron’s position within his own party. The vote wasn’t lost because of Labour – it was lost because Cameron couldn’t deliver his own party.

    What is even more stark, is that fact that minutes before the vote, Cameron, Osborne and Gove were telling anyone prepared to listen that the vote was ‘in the bag’ and that they would win comfortably. As many commented last night, from Gove’s explosion to Hammond’s difficulties on Newsnight, the overwhelming sense was of a collective ministerial sense of shock that they had called this so wrong.

    This tells us once again how disconnected Cameron is with parts of his parliamentary party, but I suspect the disconnect between the leadership and grass roots (if there are any left) is even worse.

    I don’t think there have been many comments on here since the vote about UKIP, but once again, they seem to be the big winners. Fishing as they do in a small pond, I suspect they’ve just netted themselves a few more decent sized catches, and are likely to have garnered more soft support, if not new members, from within Tory ranks.
    As with so many conflicts, while elections are technically won by the votes counted, very often it’s the boots on the ground that actually deliver the result.

    Many UKIP leaning Tory activists still see their own leader in negative terms, and don’t see him as a winner. This episode once again puts the words ‘Cameron’ and ‘defeat’ together in the same sentence, exposing his strategic weakness and poor operational skills.

    It may be that the real impact of this defeat is less on VI, but more subtle, played out through even less grass roots engagement. If so, that would be just as serious for Cameron.

  16. @Colin

    The key phrase (which some have credited for the government’s defeat) is:

    “notes that before any *direct* British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place”

    This would not have ruled out indirect involvement such as allowing US use of Cyprus. It has been suggested that the highlighting of this back door to UK involvement during the debate may have tipped the balance.

  17. @ALEC
    I have to say I agree with your August 30th, 2013 at 11:39 am post…

    It is spot on… and I hope someone from the government benches reads it soon…

  18. ROBIN

    I distinctly remember a question on that issue during the debate. A Labour MP asked for confirmation that “indirect” involvement was also covered by the second vote .

    I’m not sure -but it may have been during Clegg’s winding up.

    I think the response was unequivocal-but I can’t find the full debate transcript online yet.

  19. ROBIN

    Found it :-

    “Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) (Con): I seek clarification regarding the reference in the penultimate paragraph of the motion to “direct British involvement”. Will the Deputy Prime Minister describe what that means? If the Americans chose to attack this weekend and used, say, Akrotiri, the base in Cyprus, would that be an indirect involvement by this country? I ask because, if the Syrians then targeted it with a Scud missile in the proceeding days, we might be drawn into the conflict.

    The Deputy Prime Minister: Direct action would mean the UK taking part in any strikes designed in an American-led military operation. I cannot be clear enough on this point; that would only ever take place if there were a separate debate and vote in this House.”

  20. @ Shevii

    Re DT paywall

    It is in place but is very easily circumvented by using different browsers after hitting the wall or deleting the DT cookie – I’m not suggesting readers do this, merely pointing out the frailties of their system…..

    Blogs are free to read & don’t count towards the 20 article limit.

  21. @Colin

    From the Guardian:

    “Barry Gardiner, a Labour MP, asks for an assurance that Britain will not get involved in “indirect action” without a second vote.

    Clegg says there are no plans for Britain to get involved in indirect action. There will be no direct action, supporting the Americans, without a second vote.”

    Very clearly not answering the question. If I had been listening to Clegg, I would have taken this answer to mean that indirect action did NOT require the second vote.

  22. @Colin – “Your suggestion that inserting “at this time’” would have been “strategic” is nonsense.

    First of all EM , having just asked , on a point of order that DC would not use other powers available to him, would have smelt a rat & gone bananas.”

    Of course he wouldn’t have – that’s just silly.

    This is what Ed actually asked – “”There having been no motion passed by this House tonight, can the Prime Minister confirm to the House that he will not use the Royal prerogative to order the UK to be part of military action, given the will of the House that has been expressed tonight, before there has been another vote in this House of Commons?”

    I also have an email from Ed (yes – really, I do) in which he clearly lays out precisely what he would need to see before agreeing to military engagement in Syria.

    At absolutely no point, anywhere, has Ed ruled out military engagement. Of course he wouldn’t have gone bananas.

    Cameron has been touring the TV studios this morning compounding his error, saying that we will take no part in military action. He is voluntarily closing off the options, which in this kind of situation is (in my view) a daft thing to do.

    Cameron has never been asked, at any point, to rule out military intervention, but has voluntarily chosen to do so.

    Should the reports come back, the evidence be clear, and a reasoned and potentially effective military response be identified, Ed can say yes, let’s do it, and remain completely consistent. Cameron now can’t.

    He was completely caught out last night, and wasn’t thinking clearly, but a nights sleep don’t seem to have helped him this morning.

  23. Just to update, on BBC News both Cameron & Mililband made it clear that UK military involvement was now ruled out following last nights vote.

  24. ROBIN

    Didn’t hear that one.

  25. @Colin

    Your quote doesn’t answer the question either.

    “No Plans” = “We’re going to do it” (cf 1979, no plans to raise VAT)
    “I cannot be clear enough on this point” = “I’m doing my best to obfuscate”.

  26. Prepare to do battle on the new thread, cruise missives to the ready, load the anti straw man guns……..

  27. Alec.

    I think you should take a look at the votes last night.

    Both sides voted 100% for their version of things. The difference was 40 or so government MPs. It’s all party political. If Ed pushes the “let’s do it” thing, he’ll lose votes. The public are not convinced of it being worthwhile. Hence why Cameron is not fighting the issue at present. There’s no point.

  28. ALEC

    I don’t care what e-mails you have from Ed Miliband.

    What matters is the text of the Motion , and the result of the vote.

    I am aware what conditions EM required to support military action.-they are in the text of Labour’s amendment.

    That too was voted down-despite the conditionality.

    Cameron is quite right -the House spoke unequivocally.-and he also mentioned the views of “the British People” -would you point me to any conditionality attached to the recent polling questions on military action in Syria , which indicated that a majority support would result.

  29. TOH


  30. ROBIN

    Who knows which features affected each vote.

    My own feeling is that it was the flawed idea that a one-off strike would stop Assad using CW again. Add to that the fear of reaction from Syria & it’s military sponsors-and I think the military case had not been made-even if people’s hearts were won over.

    This was General Dannatts key objection.

  31. @Colin

    Voting motions down simply means that there isn’t an agreed position. It doesn’t mean that the agreed position is the negation of everything in the defeated motion.

    The House spoke unequivocally that neither motion was acceptable. That doesn’t mean, once the weapons inspectors ahve reported and the UN has spoken (which might precipitate a change in public opinion), that all other motions will also be unacceptable.

  32. @Colin

    I agree that there are severe issues with the practicalities of what might be achieved. In many ways that’s an entirely different question from the principal.

    Perhaps a better question would be, “If we can come up with a sensible and effective military option which deters or prevents future chemical weapon use, would you be in favour?”

  33. ROBIN

    I remember Dannatt saying any miltary operation needs to have a beginning , a middle & an end.

    This proposal just had a beginning-the rest was unknown.

  34. ROBIN

    @”Perhaps a better question would be, “If we can come up with a sensible and effective military option which deters or prevents future chemical weapon use, would you be in favour?””

    We’re getting into the realms of military theory & practice now, -and you would still have to convince a sceptical public.

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