Today’s daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12% (tabs here), the weekly Friday Populus poll meanwhile has figures of CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 9% (tabs here). Needless to say, both polls were conducted before the government’s defeat over Syria, so are already a bit out of date.

We’ll know over the next few days what the impact of the Syria vote is on public opinion. Unlike many political events, it is at least something people notice (in the weekly Populus poll on what news stories people have noticed 61% said Syria), but it obviously isn’t something that directly affects many British people’s lives. Unless there are actual wars with widespread casualties, people tend to vote on things like the economy, health, taxes and so on, not on quarrels in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. Perhaps of more interest will be the effect on perceptions of the party leaders (which, in turn, may have their own knock on effects on voting intention) – will it make people see David Cameron as a less effective leader, or Ed Miliband as a more effective one? I would be surprised if there wasn’t at least some negative impact on Cameron’s ratings, but whether that is long term or quickly forgotten is an open question…


372 Responses to “Latest polls, and what might the impact of Syria be”

1 2 3 8
  1. Thankfully this will have no effect on Norwegian polling

  2. Lab on 37% two days running. That’s the only constant so far. I expect it will rise on Sunday.

  3. There will be no significant Syria impact on the polls or on perceptions of the leaders. And I still expect Labour to remain about 6 points ahead all the way to the 2015 election & beyond!

  4. The thing to watch out for is whether the Labour lead over the next week increase beyond the 5% or 6% that has been average of late. I think it will probably increase slightly, at least in the short-term. Maybe 7% or 8% will become the norm for a while.

    But as I said earlier, and AW has said above, the most interesting thing to watch out for will not so much be its affect on polling (which will likely fade anyway), but on the perceptions of the leaders.

  5. *increases*

  6. I think this will do Ed the world of good with Labour supporters, and predict rise in his rating.

  7. Well summed up, IIMSS, AW. If Alec is right, then one could almost get the impression that DC’s heart was never in this anyway, really. I find that incredible, but a change of mind is another matter I suppose. Certainly, days ago it was ‘gung ho rules OK’, but now we have ‘I bow to the will of the people’ (not just Parliament note).

    A very strange turn of events. Why could he not just await the reports of UN inspectors (that at least)?

  8. @ Howard

    A very strange turn of events. Why could he not just await the reports of UN inspectors (that at least)?
    ————
    PR. Avoid ‘dithering’, after the event, take a clear (even extreme?) position. Don’t be a bad loser. Get in first, give credit to the people & parliament before credit is given to the opposition etc.

  9. Perhaps I was being hasty saying that Cameron’s volte face is PR inspired. Have there been any reports about what transpired at yesterday evening’s UN Security Council meeting? I’m wondering whether something happened there which has cast doubt on military strikes being in any way appropriate.

  10. Howard

    If Alec is right, then one could almost get the impression that DC’s heart was never in this anyway, really. I find that incredible, but a change of mind is another matter I suppose. Certainly, days ago it was ‘gung ho rules OK’, but now we have ‘I bow to the will of the people’

    Is it anything more complicated than “If I don’t get my own way completely, I’ll take my ball away and nobody can play”? Sometimes we underestimate the amount personal emotional response can affect politics.

    Certainly it seems that much of the pressure on Obama to act was coming from the UK and France. Of course both have a quasi-colonial background in the area. so the original pressure for action is plausible, particularly after Libya. So it seems unlikely that Cameron was just going along for the ride.

    There may be political reasons too. A lot of the opposition to intervention from Conservatives (and most of it from UKIP) came from isolationist motives. These won’t be satisfied with sufficient proof, achievable objectives or a coherent exit strategy. They simply want nothing to do with it. Cameron may have decided that it is better to appease them with a pledge of no action at all.

    If it all goes wrong they will blame Miliband anyway. That’s obviously nonsense, but that won’t stop them and their friends in the media doing it anyway and to some extent it’s already started.

  11. Well the most sensible proposal I have seen is from Poland, which is calling for Russia to go in and secure the chemical weapons.

  12. RICHARD

    That looks interesting-wonder what Putin’s response will be ?

  13. @Colin

    “What chemical weapons?” – 5/1

    “We don’t need to interfere” – 2/1

    :)

  14. @ Richard

    That would be my preferred scenario. And I am wondering whether Russia has opened the door to doing something like that during the UN security council meeting last night.

    Russia already has some of the most sophisticated disposal facilities – & so many chemical weapons of its own (which are scheduled for disposal over 10 years) that giving Russia control of Syria’s chemical weapons changes the ‘big picture’ ‘balance of power’ not one jot.

  15. Richard and Colin

    I don’t know what Putin’s response would be but I can guess how the US and it’s allies would react!! Russian troops on the ground in Syria disarming both the rebels and the govt is a non starter, unless you wanna be starting WWIII, remember both sides have chemical weapons, the Russians would be entirely justified in trying to take those weapons from the rebels and that would lead to mission creep(ha ha ha) and end up with the Russians wiping out the rebels

  16. Colin

    I would think he would be delighted to do it. It will prevent the US airstrikes and ensure Assad’s survival and therefore secure his military base in the med. Its a win for him.

    Its a win for the Syrian people, because they have no more danger from chemical weapons.

    Its a win for Obama, as he knows chemical weapons are not leaking out to rebels, which seems to be his big reason for wanting to strike Syria, but airstrikes are risky and will fail to eliminate all chemical weapons and are likely to remove the security surrounding them.

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Aug-30/229352-russia-has-a-hand-in-syrian-chemical-arsenal-poland.ashx#axzz2dSSdve3s

  17. I’m not convinced there will be any major changes to voting or opinions on leaders. Maybe Cameron will lose a bit of face (especially given the Tory press reaction to him) but EM is less clear- he had a more nuanced message rather than a we are not going to war and I’m facing Cameron down. Also (Tory) press were still pretty disparaging about EM along the lines of playing politics. It will definitely help to firm up the anti war who maybe deserted Labour over Iraq but I’m not sure this covers that many voters anyway.

  18. @Chordata

    Ta for that advice re how to get around the DT paywall. I’m still not inclined to read Hodges latest effort though. Once you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.

  19. @Amber
    “There will be no significant Syria impact on the polls or on perceptions of the leaders.”

    I agree with you more than I disagree.

    But surely more than 3% will now consider Miliband to be “good in a crisis”?

  20. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if DC wasn’t actually too concerned about the vote loss last night. Several ministers didn’t turn up or were “late”, possibility this was pre-planned? It also appears the whips didn’t bust a gut getting their vote in. Once the result was announced DC immediately slammed the door shut on any possibility of another debate on the issue.

    I don’t know the timelines involved (or it could be my imagination running away with me!) but could it be DC knew EM couldn’t resist trying to stitch him up by agreeing to support him and then reneging once the debate was announced? If everything goes wrong and we accidently bomb a school or hospital, EM can wring his hands and exclaim in his best Cockney, ” nuffing to do wiv me Guv!” hoping it will leave DC in the brown stuff.

    An interesting quote from the BBC website today, “Labour source says there is a sense of “shock” over last night and that “no one wanted it to be a defeat”. What does this suggest other than EM really wanted the Bill to be passed but his calculations have gone badly awry.

    God forbid it happens but if something else awful occurs in Syria such as a napalming of a children’s playground EM could be left with lot of egg on his face & explaining to do.

    This little possible scenario reminds me of a song by the Kersal Flyers, I’ve changed it slightly to suit:

    “Little does EM know that I know that he knows that I know he’s cheating on me.”

  21. Roger Rebel,I think you may well be right regarding Labour supporters and EM.Many people were,rightly or wrongly,fed up with Labour being Tory lite and not vocal enough
    In opposition.This will do him no harm and will be beneficial going into the
    conference season.

  22. That’s true – even if he doesn’t win a single extra fan outside his own party, his leadership ratings would still improve and that plays well in the press.

  23. @ Bantams

    “Labour source says there is a sense of “shock” over last night and that “no one wanted it to be a defeat”.
    ————
    I’d think that “no one wanted it to be a defeat” is a slight mis-quote or mis-speak: ‘no one expected it to be a defeat’ would perhaps be more accurate.

    We had the Tory Minister for Defence mis-speaking & saying Sadaam Hussein when he meant Assad, so I think it is a bit silly to be reading a huge amount into the exact words which are alleged to have been said by an entirely anonymous “Labour source”.

  24. “@ Ann in Wales

    Roger Rebel,I think you may well be right regarding Labour supporters and EM.Many people were,rightly or wrongly,fed up with Labour being Tory lite and not vocal enough In opposition.This will do him no harm and will be beneficial going into the conference season. ”

    In regard to Tory lite, some of these will be Blairites who backed him helping Labour win three elections. They may be more hawkish than most Labour voters, who have generally opposed interventionist type policies. So EM’s decision may not be welcomed by some.

    On balance however, I think Labour will gain more support following the debate on Syria, because the British public are now ‘war weary’. We have had more than 10 years of British Armed Forces being involved in the ‘war on terror’. Launching a few missles into Syria might only be the start of a much longer commitment.

  25. @ Bantams

    God forbid it happens but if something else awful occurs in Syria such as a napalming of a children’s playground EM could be left with lot of egg on his face & explaining to do.
    ————
    Au contraire; the media & most of the public are well aware that ‘napalm’ style weapons are legal. This simply adds to the public’s disdain & confusion i.e. why are chemical weapons worthy of an air-strike whilst other, equally hideous weapons are not?

  26. @ Bantams,

    I’ve heard the “Labour wanted the Government motion to pass” theory circulating, but I think it’s unlikely. This article sums up Miliband’s domestic political position pretty well, I think: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/08/syria-ed-miliband-has-had-lucky-escape

    Cameron’s decision to take intervention off the table completely has made this the best of all possible worlds for him.

    1) Miliband is responsible for the public getting what it wants, no war with Syria.

    2) The position of waiting for the UN verdict makes it clear Labour has learned the lesson of Iraq.

    3) The Labour Party remains united, rather than being acrimoniously and dramatically split over the question of military intervention as it inevitably would have been.

    4) Unlike the Tories, who just dealt their Prime Minister a humiliating defeat.

    5) Miliband doesn’t have to come out in favour of military intervention, thereby pissing off all the anti-interventionists and taking on some of the culpability if the mission goes wrong.

    6) Miliband doesn’t have to come out against military intervention, thereby opening himself up to criticisms of isolationism and indifference to Syrian suffering.

    7) The US will probably still bomb Syria, so the “Assad uses more chemical weapons and it’s all your fault for failing to deter him!!!” scenario is unlikely to arise.

    8) Dan Hodges has left the Labour Party.

    I have no idea what Cameron is thinking- perhaps he’s worried about suffering another defeat at the hands of his backbenchers, or the prospect of working with the Labour leadership to draft a cross-party motion that would be guaranteed to pass is more unpleasant than the prospect of Britain stepping down from the role of global policeman- but whatever his motives, he’s done Miliband the biggest favour since he decided to lower to 50p tax rate.

    Never have I seen a government work so hard on behalf of its opposition.

  27. @ Amber Star

    The exact copy & paste from BBC below:

    Craig Woodhouse, Sun political correspondent tweets: Labour source says there is a sense of “shock” over last night and that “no one wanted it to be a defeat”. So why whip against govt?

    Can’t see any misquote or mis-speak there, perfectly clear to me.

    2 other different MP’s were talking about Saddam Hussein rather than Assad this morning on the radio, it’s obviously stuck deep down in the psyche of Parliament these days.

  28. @Bantams
    “An interesting quote from the BBC website today, “Labour source says there is a sense of “shock” over last night and that “no one wanted it to be a defeat”. What does this suggest other than EM really wanted the Bill to be passed but his calculations have gone badly awry.”

    That source seems quite plausible but I don’t follow your interpretation.

    What it says to me that the Labour/SNP/PC position was as stated in their motion, that is one of leaving open the option for intervention depending what emerged from the inspectors, and through its silence leaving open the question of intervention without UN approval. And likewise, Cameron’s position was as stated in the more forthright tone of the government motion.

    The fact is that we have ended up with an outcome which apparently now rules out intervention. I’m surprised that Cameron chose immediately to interpret it thus, rather than to put matters on hold and then make a further effort once the inspectors had reported.

    But if Cameron felt all along that a defeat for the government motion would have meant that outcome, what puzzles me is why was he not prepared to compromise a tiny bit and support the slightly more reserved position put forward by Miliband? The only rational position is that Cameron’s whips got their calculations hopelessly wrong and were expecting to win the vote with some ease.

  29. Also, I have to say- if Cameron can’t figure out the politics of his own party well enough to get his foreign policy through the Commons, what are the odds he can figure out the politics in Syria well enough to intervene in a way that will improve the humanitarian situation?

    I opposed intervention not because I’m against military intervention in principle but because I felt the Government had no idea what it was doing or how it would help. This debacle only reinforces that impression.

  30. @Bantams
    PS. On reflection, it’s not quite as plausible having come from the Sun.

  31. Amber

    I have a feeling that ed will be most pleased with number 8

  32. STATGEEK

    Lol !

    Richard

    Syria is full of Russians-didn’t you see them on tv at the airport-taking their families out of it.?

    BANTAMS

    @”An interesting quote from the BBC website today, “Labour source says there is a sense of “shock” over last night and that “no one wanted it to be a defeat”. What does this suggest other than EM really wanted the Bill to be passed but his calculations have gone badly awry.”

    Interesting !

  33. R in N,
    You beat me to it.I agree with Spearmints points,but number 8 beats all the rest.

  34. @ Bantam

    I did not mean that you had mis-quoted. I meant that the “Labour source” had mis-spoken or been mis-heard or been mis-quoted. Regarding mis-spoken, I gave a helpful example i.e. Philip Hammond.

    And the “Labour source” could have been anybody; it could even have been Dan Hodges… but not anymore.

  35. Spearmint

    “1) Miliband is responsible for the public getting what it wants, no war with Syria.”

    Wrong, it was Tory rebels which got the people what it wanted, to use your phrase.

  36. With 30 Labour MPs absent or unable to attend, Labour ‘wanting’ (i.e. expecting) to defeat the government was a ridiculous proposition – until it happened.

  37. I can see why Dan Hodges is no longer a member of Labour, his piece on Miliband today was scathing. Could not disagree with a word he said.

  38. @ Spearmint

    You think it’s unlikely….mm. As unlikely as the Syrians using chemical weapons perhaps?

    It could be argued that EM is purely looking after EM and no-one else, he saw the polls showing strongly against any missile attack on Syria and unscrupulously shifted his position dramatically to suit.

    I would hope Labour has learnt it’s lesson but then again didn’t EM say today he could see a situation where he will back some sort of strike?

    The Tories did lose but was it humiliating or a deliberate move?

    EM has displayed again his ability to be a political shapeshifter when he needs it which explains your points 5 & 6. He shouldn’t do it right in front of the public though, they might start to get wise.

    The Labour party remains united…. What did the note say that EM passed to Diane Abbott?

    Dan Hodges? Is he related to Elvis?

    Polls wise I suspect the Syrian situation will have little effect. Labour have hit 37% twice this week which might suggest another gradual weakening but really it’s all irrelevant until we’re well into 2015.

  39. “Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says that intelligence gathered by Ankara leaves no doubt that the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were responsible for the attacks, according to Reuters.”

    BBC

    “BBC Monitoring reports that Syrian TV has misquoted Labour leader Ed Miliband as saying the chemical attack near Damascus was the work of rebels. Government satellite news channel Al-Ikhbariyah al-Suriyah quoted Miliband as saying that he “fully understands” that it was “armed groups” (the usual government term for rebels) that used chemical weapons in the Ghouta.”

    BBC

  40. Oh man, I just realised- now we can have a “Why Dan Hodges leaving the Labour Party is disastrous for Ed Miliband!” Dan Hodges column!

    It’s like a Mobius strip.

  41. “What does this suggest other than EM really wanted the Bill to be passed but his calculations have gone badly awry.””
    ———————–
    An amazing feat to read Ed’s mind in this way.
    If the motion had been carried we would get the opposite spin and Ed would “obviously have wanted the motion to be defeated, and his calculations would have gone badly awry.”

    It’s raining here and I reckon that is Ed’s fault too.

  42. @ TOH

    Wrong, it was Tory rebels which got the people what it wanted, to use your phrase.
    ————
    The Tory ‘rebels’ could’ve out-voted the Coalition had Labour abstained… actually when I look at the numbers, you are clearly wrong about that.

    So we have Labour trying to do what the public wanted & some Tories & LibDem ‘rebels’ backing them by voting with the opposition (which included other Parties e.g. the SNP).

  43. Spearment

    In answer to some your points.

    .DC was beaten by his back benchers Labour doesn’t have a OM.

    The UN resolution was a red herring as it would never be agreed by Russia or China.

    EM was forced into his position by threaten defections from his own front bench and back benchers

    One day EM may need the support of America to use your words they will be pretty pissed off with him as well.

    And because the people don’t war in Syria it doesn’t necessaraly follow they want the government stripped of the right of intervention by party politic’s which what last night was all about.

    I think EM has a chance of coming out of this with some discredit after all his resolution which was almost identical to the governments was also defeated so he has little moral high ground which probably accounted for the miserible look on his face when the results came in and he realised what he had done.

  44. Colin

    Why interesting?

    We have a media that is pathologiocally anti-Miliband for whatever reason – this includes the BBC who have jumped on the bandwaggon.

    The quotes are flannel and are in the same gist as all the reporting in the paper this morning which is trying to be as pro-Cameron as possible. Look also at the first editions who had actually made their minds up before the results and look ridiculous.

    In the same way as Murdoch Miliband wrong-footed Cameron. He managed to have a miltary strike taken off the table before yesterday (perhaps Cameron should thank him for this) and he produced a far better amendment than the original Government motion.

    The lack of preceptiveness came totally from Cameron and Clegg as they misread the mood of their parties, if they hadn’t done that they could have supported the Labour amendment as Miliband had made it quite clear what his approach would be if they voted against.

    Not only that he asked the question on the Royal prerogative which was just in the circumstances and which was the point when Cameron ruled out miltary action – something Labour have never actually called for.

    It is amusing to see the pro-Government spokespeople in the press trying to turn this back on Miliband – this and the quotes from Craig Oliver yesterday may come back and haunt them.

    Who is weak, weak, weak know?

  45. Bantams

    @ Amber Star

    The exact copy & paste from BBC below:

    Craig Woodhouse, Sun political tweets:

    Can’t see any misquote or mis-speak there, perfectly clear to me

    The fact that it’s a Sun correspondent is enouh to make to prove mis-speak.

  46. @ Other Howard,

    Technically yes, but that’s not the Tory line because they can’t run around saying “Cameron can’t control his party!”

    It is the Labour line (and the truth), but given the relative effectiveness of the Tory and Labour media operations at the moment I think it’s Miliband and not David Davis who will get the blame/credit for this one.

    @ Bantams,

    No, I think there’s almost a 100% chance someone in Syria will use chemical weapons again in the next few months. I just think the odds are very high that this will happen after the US “deters” them. The argument that the deterrent would have worked if only the bombs had been British will be difficult to make.

  47. BCROMBIE

    Fair enough I can see you weren’t interested in it.

    But I was.

  48. @ Phil Haines

    Regarding the Whips, that is the only other plausible reason. What I don’t understand is they already knew that some LD’s and Tories were going to vote against the Bill so the numbers must have been dodgy. Why not enforce the presence of MP’s away just to make sure they were in safe waters?

    My point with DC & EM is if DC suspected he was being stitched up he had to go for the lesser of the evils which (in his mind) was to allow the loss of the vote and then quickly shut the door on any further debates which would drag the issue on for a few more painful weeks. Only a theory.

  49. The Other Howard
    Wrong, it was Tory rebels which got the people what it wanted, to use your phrase.

    How do you work that out if Labour had abstained or voted with the Government it would have past

  50. He [Ed Miliband] shouldn’t do it [be influenced by public opinion] right in front of the public though, they might start to get wise.
    —————-
    This is definitely a dilemma for both Ed M & David C.

    Do we want to be led by our politicians or do we want them to represent us? Probably both. So getting it right isn’t easy.

1 2 3 8