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 Needless to say, both polls were conducted before the government’s defeat over Syria, so are already a bit out of date.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”

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  1. @Red Rag – re Lib Dem limpets being stuck to Labour’s mast.

    It really should be barnacles, and they stick to the hull. But I get what you mean.

  2. I get worried by people making reference to Vietnam to criticise America.

    Without doubt Vietnam was a bad war fought badly. You could argue that sending British troops to France in 1914 and1940 was a good war fought badly.

    In either case I wouldn’t judge the US today on the mistakes of the past. In the1960 the US fought the Vietnam war the way it had fought Korea and WW2.

    In those wars it had won by sheer firepower and Vietnam showed just what the limits of that were. It also showed that unlike previous wars we now had the capability to do long term damage that out weighed the short term gain.

    The almost fifty years since Vietnam have largely seen the US attempt to replace mass power with precision. It’s been a long road and a slow one and I’d be the first to say. That the US still overestimates how smart it’s weapons are and is to mean to use them.

    Having said that having invented both Napalm (they tested it on Tokyo in 1945 and killed more civilians that in Hiroshima or Nagasaki) and cluster bombs they have been one of the first to try and phase them out.

    By and large if you look at US military involvement since Vietnam, the numbers of civilian casualties have been following.

    For all it’s mistakes if I was a civilian on the wrong side of a Superpower I would much rather it was the US than Russian or China.

    If the US does strike at Syria it will do everything it can to minimise civilian casualties. That doesn’t mean a strike is a good idea or that civilians won’t be killed, but restraint will be central to it and that alone and the trend should be welcomed.

    Peter.

  3. More innocent or less innocent?

    Guilty or guiltier?

    Of course there would be fewer in number. But would they be less innocent?

  4. @Mr Nameless,
    Yes I see what you mean about the photo.Nevertheless these walkabouts or
    Whatever they are take courage I think,especially after the last one.

  5. Ken
    Be careful what you say in Portugal! I gathere he is still quite revered by many there.

  6. gather even

  7. NickP
    Well they would not be ‘fewer innocent’ would they? Of course there could be fewer who were innocent, especially if they were less innocent than others, in which case there would be fewer innocent than initially supposed.

  8. Oldnat,

    You are right that one Q&A session does not a policy make, but it does indicate that it’s not a popular policy with them, even if they might not commit outright to its repeal.

  9. PETERCAIRNS

    “unlike previous wars we now had the capability to do long term damage that out weighed the short term gain”.

    A questionable assertion, I’d suggest.

    The long-term damage caused by the bombing of Dresden, for example, probably outweighed the short term gain (whatever that was supposed to be).

    Of more impact on Western governments may well have been the impact of TV journalistic cover of war. Vietnam was probably the first (and perhaps the last) where there was open journalistic coverage by the media of a combatant (though arguably the Crimean War has that distinction).

    That media exposure makes governments less willing to carry out atrocities is, of course, an extremely good thing!

  10. HOWARD………My post was in response to you. :-)

  11. Test

    foolish

  12. Peter

    Shame on you, of course when the US own troops are involved everything is done to minimize civilian casualties, but when they want large amounts of civilian casualties, the send in the cia trained death squads, which is a tactic as old as the hills. Seriously the only real difference between us and the Chinese or Russians is style rather than substance

  13. MRNAMELESS

    My response is trapped in auto-mod. No idea why.

  14. Richard,

    “the send in the cia trained death squads”

    Oh and where is the evidence for this little fantasy. I’d love you to paste a few links for that prefered lay not from mad conspiracy.com or fruitcakes.co.uk.

    Try looking at entries for what the Russians did in Grozny and then find anything since the nineties that compares on the US side.

    The closest to a real mess was in Somalia when the botched attempt to seize General Aideed.

    The fact that the Americans decided to form a defensive perimeter to retrieve dead pilots bodies lead to them having to fight their way out of the city lead to an estimated 1,500 casualties in the city many civilians.

    The two key points from that unintentional débâcle was that despite the US firepower they still used it as little as possible and even then they didn’t cause majority of the civilian casualties and that it lead directly to the rise in Drone warfare with the intension of not putting troops on the ground in the future.

    There is no doubt that hasn’t been the painless solution the US hoped or indeed claim, but a 3,000 casualties in ten years (far to high and an example of how the US as I said over estimate their abilities) it is a tiny rate compared to 1,500 in one night.

    Peter.

  15. Alec – Barnacles, limpets…crabs. They stick hold of their host and refuse to budge no matter what is thrown at them :-)

  16. RIN

    “The only real difference between us and the Chinese or russians is style rather than substance.”

    Simple way to prove your point go to the three capitals and hold a placard criticising the leadership of that particular country and see if you can spot the difference in style in the way your dealt with.

  17. I’m trying very, very hard not to comment on Syria and all that comes with it…

  18. Please can we not bother rising to trashy comments; let’s try to ignore them as best we can!

  19. @ Amber Star

    Can I second it? It has been really low.

  20. Turk

    I would get arrested in all three capitals unless there were tv cameras, but I wasn’t talking about how we treat dissent inside our own countries but how we treat dissent in our vassels or what we regard as our sandbox otherwise known as “sphere of influence” The Chinese treatment of Tibet is little different to the Russian treatment of Chechnya which is little different from the American treatment of El Salvador. The substance is the same but the Chinese and Russians do it openly and the Americans train and direct the thugs in the shadows while publicly saying how terrible it is

  21. Amber

    I hope your not talking about me

  22. RIN………..I suspect she was ! :-)

  23. RiN

    Isn’t what you describe a condition that applies to all countries that consider that they are entitled to decide what happens in places outwith their own borders, and apply those decisions in their own interests?

    It’s not new. It won’t stop. However, the more participants in the UN who don’t share that attitude just might reduce the tendency to some extent.

  24. Peter

    Since the second world

    Indonesia
    Iran
    Iraq in the 50s
    Guatemala
    Laos
    Vietnam
    Honduras
    Argentina
    Brazil
    Haiti
    Chile
    El Salvador
    Nicaragua in the 50s 60s and 80s

    And the list just goes on

  25. @ RiN

    The differences can be large, yet unimportant and vica versa.

    The truth is always in “the concrete analysis of the concrete situation” (VIL) – thus putting abstract questions and analogous examples are avoiding truth – it’s possible to expose them, but is it the right thing to do (as it inevitably involves the flirting with fallacies one intends to criticise.

  26. Apologies Anthony, I shouldn’t have reacted. Thank you for removing both the offensive post & my reaction to it.

  27. ANTHONY…………I know some of my comments stretch your patience, but at least I am sincere, put it down to MOE. :-)

  28. Oldnat

    That’s why I think small states are better, big states develop big egos and dangerous structures but I’m not sure really how much you can do about human nature if we are only prepared to see faults in others and not ourselves, if we only recognise our own interests as legitimate and no others, and even worse if we allow our leaders to do “bad” things for our benefit and pretend that they haven’t or it was just a misunderstanding or bad planning………

  29. LASZLO………..In which case, the truth is relative.

  30. RiN

    Agreed. Human beings are the problem – and those humans who enjoy wielding power are the worst!

    Small states can band together to resist aggression, but are unlikely ever to have sufficient common interest to agree to attack anyone else. :-)

  31. Ken

    It always is and always has been. History is written by the victors that’s why the good guys always win. Lol

  32. Ok, I’m going to devote all my energies to cracking level 410 in candy crush saga, I’m getting close but not close enough

  33. Independent and Telegraph both reporting that Cameron will be “reshuffling” his front benches and the whip office, with the blame being laid on the whip office for allowing a government motion to be defeated. It is starting to sound like a night of the long knives is on the cards, with multiple ministers already offering sincere apologies to Cameron.

  34. The difficulty with the current situation is NOT the appraisal, but the conclusions from it. Assad’s regime is abhorrent. The planned aggression (now without the UK) is abhorrent. But it is not the two abhorrent sides of the same coin (Guardian’s favourite get out ticket), it’s not a “yes but” (all media – varying what is before yes and what is after what). It is a question of the two main conflicts of the future generations. From this perspective any attack on Syria is immoral. Equally immoral is the stance that supports retrograde forces of opposition and encourages progressives to unite with them (so that the day after the overthrowing of the regime they supposedly democratically can sort out the differences) without clarifying the goal (replacing Mubarak, Gadhaffi, Assad is NOT a goal).

    A positively revolutionary movement of the ME (it has to be regional and national) cannot be democratic as interpreted by the US, UK, France. Its truth would have to be supported by hard fists too. And it would have to be vary cautious with Russia and China.

  35. LASZLO

    iIm glad that you overcame your reluctance to post on the issue.

    As usual, your post was worth reading.

  36. @ Ken

    Truth is relative and absolute at the same time. There is no limit how far we can approach truth but we cannot reach it. So truth has two meanings 1) an ideal (get out card really); 2) as much as we know from the perspective of 1). This philosophical problem is surprisingly practical…

  37. Laszlo

    What does this mean?

    “It is a question of the two main conflicts of the future generations”

  38. @ OldNat

    Thanks.

    It is very hard. So many cut wood pieces press, squeeze and push each other in this pile (now Syria) – it is intellectually exciting, morally tempting – but, just as with many other things, people think they can pick this or that piece of wood ignoring the pressing, the squeezing, the pushing of the other pieces. And when one wants to explain it – has to realise the lack of interest in the fact that all these pieces of cut wood are determined.

  39. LASZLO……….I have a practical example of that in my biometric entry system, I register my fingerprint, ( constant ) and return with my fingerprint, ( variable ) the computer has to guess, within a MOE, the truth. As the number of constants registered grows, so does the potential for false acceptance/rejection,

  40. @ RiN

    Very perceptive :-)

    1) The unnecessary (based on false premises) race for resources and their distribution;
    2) The combination of powerful ideologies with nationalism (partly due to 1)).

  41. LASZLO

    However, to continue your analogy “all these pieces of cut wood are determined.”

    Sometimes bits of wood can become rotten and spongy. they can then be compressed by other pieces which are expanding!

    (Water can both aid and harm organic materials :-) )

  42. @ Ken

    At the level of the individual it grows, at the level of all registered it reduces (it doesn’t counsel the individual I suppose).

  43. @ OldNat

    Yes. I like it. Now the humidity (water) that was external, circumstance, becomes part of the internal working of the system. It’s too late tonight to contemplate the meaning of this for Syria.

  44. When I wrote nationalism earlier, obviously I didn’t mean Scottish or Welsh. I tend to make difference between patriotism, nationalism and chauvinism. Patriotism and internationalism are not mutually exclusive.

  45. I’m not sure that the race for resources is either unnecessary or based on false premises but I do agree that it’s going to be a key source of conflict in the future, perhaps more so than in the past, if that’s possible. Most certainly the best way to mobilize a society to achieve a difficult goal is to combine ideology with nationalism, the second world war provides the conclusive proof of that, although my favorite example is the inter war years of the Soviet union

  46. LASZLO………..Actually, a computer can’t guess, so the door entry system is programmed to recognise a relative truth. I guess that is why vast databases, such as credit card companies don’t use biometrics, too many similarities would require too broad an MOE, therefore, too many false accepts/rejects, to be viable.

  47. Sorry Richard, I type on a mobile and I’m dead tired, so I can’t answer by or points. Apologies.

    Classes remain important (point 2), so does human productivity (point 1). I’m quite sure future generations will sort it out or they wipe themselves out. In my view we can make our choices from their perspective and we (and they) will be OK. Thus the only real moral choice is the future generations while taking responsibility for this (and yes, it can be abused)

    It’s a bit cryptic but I must go to sleep.

  48. Laszlo

    Sleep well

  49. Thanks to @Laszlo and @RiN for restoring my faith in my own attempt at understanding. Sleep well indeed.

  50. It does seem to me that the elephant in the room that hasn’t barked in the night is the policy implications of Ed Miliband’s decision for the Labour Party to vote against joining in a US coalition to bomb Syria, which can be taken from his subsequent interview with BBC News.
    If I may cite the relevant elements of what I regard as a historic change in UK foreign policy:

    “We have sent a message that Britain is not going to engage in ill thought through military action without going through the United Nations and without ensuring we have regard to the consequences in the region,”
    “I think ill thought through military action would have made life worse not better for the Syrian people, Never mind what the British people would have thought of it.”
    And: “the UK should be able to take a different view from the US on issues. …”The United States is our friend, we do have a special relationship with it, but I don’t think the conduct of British foreign policy is about saying we always do what the United States thinks we should do.”
    With military force now ruled out, Mr Miliband said the UK should now be stepping up its humanitarian and diplomatic efforts, focused on the G20 summit in Russia next month.

    Paddy Ashdown lends point to this histtoric change and to the related shift in the authority and positioning of the main parties and individual politicians:
    “To see my country draw back from a coalition in favour of international law and decide the answer is to stand aside does not fill me with great joy.”

    Post-2015, if the GE goes as I expect, we won’t hear much more from Paddy or Michael Howard – these are the last cries from the post-colonial era.

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