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 Needless to say, both polls were conducted before the government’s defeat over Syria, so are already a bit out of date.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. It seems the ‘he said / she said’ blame game is going on here too.

    Everyone seems terrified that their leader will get the blame or not get the credit.

    I’m for polls personally.

  2. By preparing to attack Obama may have given himself some bargaining power with Russia, and Iran, neither of whom will want this outcome and both of whom officially condemn the use of chemical weapons. Once he attacks this bargaining power is gone, and unless the attack is truly awesome (which would carry its own dangers), he is in danger of being accused of making futile gestures. So hopefully his apparent slowness to make a decision reflects diplomatic moves behind the scenes. As, however, no one has suggested such, I suppose they are not going on. Whatever .. there might be the odd vote (mine for example) that might go to one of our leaders who could call for something a bit more constructive than seems to be going on now,

  3. I should add, that’s a big part of why something like the omnishambles thing had such an effect. There was no way the budget and following reversals could even tenuously be placed at the feet of the opposition…

    Personally I think the blame game is perhaps missing the point a bit in this instance. The fact is Cameron recalled Parliament to secure action which polling suggests was not popular. Labour advised caution, opposed, and the outcome was no action.

    Thus, Labour were more on the popular side of the argument, regardless of blame etc.

  4. @Neil A

    As for Cameron:

    I think he believed the cause was just. I believe he thought that Miliband would support him. I believe that he heard what he wanted to hear during negotiations.

    He has suffered politically because he called Parliament back from recess and then losing the vote.

    However he might not directly suffer in the polls. We will see, initially tomorrow, but more importantly in a month or two.

  5. It would be interesting to have a poll:
    End of special relationship good or bad.
    End of being world policeman good or bad

    I would say Good to both and I supported Iraq but now I think getting involved in other people’s wars just makes them hate us, causes more deaths and costs money we don’t have.

  6. Personally I guess that both Cameron and Milliband honestly hold the positions they have now adopted. Equally I would have liked Cameron to have come to his with less bluster and to have played his hand with more skill, while I would have liked Milliband to have come to his position earlier and not given the impression of wobbling his way towards it. Whatever, most people on this site seem to feel that all this will not affect VI much and certainly not when push comes to economic shove at the general election. My guess is that if it has any effects it will be a) on UKIP voters who will be less inclined to return to the conservative fold and b) on those labour supporters who were deeply disturbed by Iraq and will be less enthusiastic about Milliband. But to judge by my own reactions the latter will probably vote for him anyway.

    What depresses me, is that no one seems to be thinking of a more positive role for ‘little Britain’. Given that we can’t even afford planes for our aircraft carriers, I would have thought it time to realise that the time when we could exercise our influence through projecting force on our own is more or less gone (well perhaps not in Sierra Leon). But that needn’t necessarily mean that we have no positive role to play in the world or even in this particular crisis.

  7. I think it is wrong to say this wont make a difference to polling. Lab I think have very publicly put Iraq and Blair behind them – that will really cement the Lab and former Lib voters. And EM may be many things but very obviously not weak nor ineffectual. I will be interested to see leader polling over the next few weeks.

  8. @RiN (take your pick from any posted)

    Ha, ha, ha, ha ,ha, ha, ha, ha…as you as you can stand it!

  9. Gibbon in this blog from the June G8 says “President Obama looks like a leader uncomfortable with his position on Syria flanked, in the case of David Cameron, by someone who’s firing blanks.”

    The view of Cameron from one EU diplomatic source: ” …it all sounded a bit like a man who drags his friend to the bar only to discover he’s got no money himself to buy a round.”

    This was the summit Cameron hosted, which ended in a bizarre appearance with Putin… who made a long rambling speech about Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri supplying CW to the Syrian rebels.


  10. I take it that Anthony wants an end to the Syria debate, having deleted many of this mornings posts. Thought mine had addressed polling issues in a neutral way, but fair enough as it did respond to previous partisan comments.

    In terms of polling, the gap between Labour and Tories has been narrowing of recent. Is this down to the improvement in the state of the economy, giving floating voters more hope for the future, causing some to move towards the Tories ?

  11. I will be interested to see how the failure of Cameron the hold the motion effects the polls. I think it will be in two respects. I understand that the Lib Dem 2010 switchers had softened from Labour to don’t know. This may shore up their vote. The other interesting point is that historically war has given parties in power a boost. This, instead of making Cameron look strong, will make him look weak and makes Miliband look stronger. Also, it once again makes coalition parties look divided. I would therefore be surprised if the debacle has no effect.

  12. I think it will almost definitely have an affect on polling….but like AW, I think any changes will be short-term and fade within a month or so.

    The most important thing is not the polls IMO, but whether it has a lasting effect on how the public perceive the leaders.

  13. Richard,

    Nice list, but the wrong one.

    I asked,

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

    And you gave a list that predates the nineties, which rather proves my point that the US today can’t and shouldn’t be judged on it’s mistakes from the past.


  14. Personally I think that there may be some voters, including some who aren’t in favour of military action, who will feel that whilst Miliband looks stronger as a result of the Commons vote, he also looks a bit shiftier.

    For once, people may actually have been watching news programmes this week. They will have seen the reporting on the original motion. They will have heard Hague talking about making compromises to build a consensus. They may detect a whiff of suphur in the air.

    I think the overall impact will still be positive for Miliband, but there are always two sides to a story.

    I have to say, I did not regard the Syria vote or the run-up to it as a debacle, but rather as the playing out of genuine politicking, some of it admirable. I am more interested in how this evolves into future foreign and defense policy and its implications for the economy than I am, in this instance, in it effects on VI or leadership or performance ratings. Is this decision and the empowerment it signifies for opposition defense involvement likely to lead to the discarding of Trident? Will potential savings in defense in a Labour administration be likely to see the restoration of FCO, cultural and media budgets, including the Beeb, and to the full restoration and reform of overseas aid including the use of aid for increased funding for foreign studies at UK universities, and to specific reforms or EC support, including CAP,?

  16. @Peter.

    I have to admit, RiN’s list had me slightly baffled in the first place. I must have missed the US carpet bombing of Brazil, or their systematic destruction of Argentina and Indonesia. Not to mention their brutal invasion of Haiti. It seems to me that Richard is equating any involvement by the CIA in the affairs of another country with Total War.

    And whilst we’re on the subject of Russia, have we all forgotten that they actually invaded a neighbouring country recently because the internal affairs of that country impinged on what they considered to be their national interest. We need no lessons from Russia, any more than we needed them from the Soviet Union that preceded it. Whatever Obama is, he is not a neo-fascistic organised criminal.

  17. @John

    You do make the strangest of links. Is our inability to reform the CAP because we have Trident? I thought it was because the French like the CAP a great deal.

  18. I think that the impact of the vote will be on what DOESN’T happen, i.e. had we intervened militarily I think this would have posed long-term problems for the Coalition’s popularity (especially the Lib Dems) and had Labour been seen to be war-hungry then all the reminders about Iraq may have had some very small impact on their VI.

  19. @Neil A

    Uh… You might, might, just want to look up the US’s history with Haiti. And yes, the US really did offer military support to a coup in Brazil.

  20. Neil A

    Perhaps you missed the recent admission by the CIA that they were behind the 1953 coup that toppled the democratically elected government, that they bombed civilian targets and blamed it on the communists, perhaps you missed the various reports of the CIA involvement in the 1973 coup on Chile again deposing an elected govt, where tens of thousands of trade unionists and left wing politicians were rounded up and shot

  21. John Pilgrim

    Can I suggest none of those things will happen unless we continue with weak coalition governments. The purpose of Government is to govern to take those difficult decisions that don’t necessarily have public support or the suport of the opposition.

    If you always have to seek a consensus to impliment a foriegn policy or your always driven by public opinion then how do you address those difficult decissions.

    In the debate over Syria we had classic party political warfare and past guilt over Iraq being applied to the very serious and different situation in Syria, all against a Poll in the Sun, to my mind that is not the way to conduct foriegn or any policy come to that matter.

  22. Sorry my phone is being awkward today, I could go on, there is lots of info about CIA involvement in atrocities around the world, the training of death squads in various Latin American countries, their help in disposing of 1 million uundesirables in Indonesia, the various assassinations and destabilizing actions in Vietnam before direct military involvement as recorded in the Pentagon papers. But seriously if you want to believe that our side are the good guys and that any transgressions must be a case of a few bad apples then there is nothing I can do about it

  23. There does seem now to be a perceptive shift in the media moving on from the ‘Ed is carp’ and ‘Ed is weak’ theme.

    We now have a ‘Ed is ruthless’ …….

    and ‘Ed is nasty’ ……………..

    Anyone for ‘Ed is schizophrenic’ ? ;-)

  24. @Turk

    The problem is that unilateral decision making can often lead to “Something must be done. This is something. This must be done.” chains of thought.

    The proposal was going along these lines. “There’s been a chemical weapons attack in Syria, something must be done. We can take military action against Syria, that’s something. So therefore we must take military action against Syria.”

    There are additional questions to be answered here, not least of which is “Will military action be a meaningful step to prevent further escalation and use of chemical weapons?”, to which the answer has not been shown to be yes.

  25. Peter

    Since the 90s transporting prisoners to third parties for torture, 2 attempted coups in Venezuela, still training death squads in Columbia and that just stuff we know about. Let’s wait 20 to 30 years before deciding that things have changed

  26. Jayblanc

    When a country decides to take military action there can be many variables as to what can happen, when we took on the might of Germany in 1939 the outcome was far from clear.
    If we had followed the same logic as we seem to be appling to Syria as we did to the invasion of Poland by Germany then the commons would have voted against war on the basis the outcome couldn’t be predicted.

    I say this as a political point as previously stated I’m against any military action in Syria as a private individual who belives war should be an absolute last result.

    But if I were a politician it’s not just about what I think, there are other considerations such as upholding international law, sending a tyrant a message we won’t today, (never mind what we’ve tolarated in the past,) tolerate mass murder with banned weapons.
    So had I been sitting in parliment I would have voted in support of the government not because it was the easy option but because it was the right option.

  27. @Turk

    Pardon for stepping in but it should never be about sending Assad a message. A limited rocket strike against some military targets won’t do anything useful and would only escalate things – more deaths more refugees. The purpose of anything being done should be to punish those responsible for using the chemical weapons (whoever they may be) through the proper means of justice as established (the international criminal court for example) and bringing the killing as a result of the civil war to a conclusion.

    A negotiated cease fire, or an imposed cease fire, on all sides would be a more effective way of achieving both aims. It would be a long and the solution probably wouldn’t be perfect, but unfortunately that’s the messiness of the real world.

  28. @Turk

    Comparison between full declaration of war on a country for invading and occupying an ally should not be compared to considering punitive military strikes against a country for breach of the chemical weapons treaty. That’s a disingenuous argument.

    It was also clear what the end goal and aims were of declaring war on Germany in 1939, to liberate the occupied territories and occupy Germany to remove the Nazis from power. It is not clear what the end goal and aims of a military strike on Syria are, other than ‘we have to do something to punish Assad’.

    What is this military action against Syria you are goading us towards going to be? What are the targets? How many expected civilian collateral deaths? What steps are being taken to avoid Assad being replaced by a new Taliban? What will the engagement limit be? How will we contain the conflict if there is retaliation?

    These are questions that need to be answered in the planning of any attack to prevent the long term outcomes being worse than doing nothing. [snip]

  29. I think one additional root cause of this, is a Foreign Office that has become almost entirely obsessed and focused with the trading partners, and EU negotiations. In part because functionally the UK hasn’t had an independent foreign policy since the 90s. The great assumption was that the US was usually right, so we may as well leave all the ‘global security’ stuff to them, and concentrate on trade deals and Europe.

    It may well be brown trouser time in the Foreign Office now that the US State Department isn’t going to be doing most of their work.

  30. TURK

    @”f you always have to seek a consensus to impliment a foriegn policy or your always driven by public opinion then how do you address those difficult decissions.”

    I think there is a serious point here which you put your finger on.

    If the recent vote is seen as very specific to the military intervention in Syria, that is one thing.
    But if it is seen as a precedent for numeric HoC majorities on every overseas excercise in defence national interest , then UK’s Foreign Policy protocols will need re-visiting.

    If you add this pandora’s box to the sort of headlines we are seeing this morning about what you refered to a Little Britain, then I think the problems emerging for DC from this debacle at home ( & they are serious) will pale beside the effect on him in overseas dealings.

  31. @Amber

    An aside from the recent stuff, I spotted this in today’s news:

    No comment personally, but it may or may not add to the (old and I appreciate largely finished here) debate.

  32. I get a bit tired of the lazy & convenient use of phrases like “The new Taliban” to characterise the Syrian opposition & somehow make the Assad regime a more acceptable option.

    The Free Syrian Army numbers around 100,000 personnel-almost all of which are defectors from the regime.

    The two main “fundamentalist “groups, from reports I have read number perhaps 10 to 15,000.

    THe population of Syria is 22 million-74% of them being Sunni Muslims. Are all of these people Salafists?

    Yes there is a fundamentalist element in the Syrian opposition-there is everywhere in ME countries with a majority Muslim population. These countries clearly have a problem in separating their political allegiances & principles from their religious identity. And whilst this is so they will either be ruled by a dictator from a barracks , or an ethno religious clan -or by a dictator from a Mosque.

    THe bloodshed will never end until these countries can come to terms with putting their religions back in their places of worship, and keeping them out of their governments.

    But this no reason to brand the whole of the Syrian Opposition as mad religious fundamentalists -the vast majority of them are brave citizens fighting a brutal dictator & trying to get on with their lives.

  33. @Jayblanc

    It is not clear what the end goal and aims of a military strike on Syria are, other than ‘we have to do something to punish Assad’.

    What is this military action against Syria you are goading us towards going to be? What are the targets? How many expected civilian collateral deaths? What steps are being taken to avoid Assad being replaced by a new Taliban? What will the engagement limit be? How will we contain the conflict if there is retaliation?

    This is spot on. I haven’t seen any remotely convincing responses to these questions.

    Without serious thinking into these, a military intervention is a leap on the dark.

  34. Jayblanc

    I’m not a military stratagist nor I suspect are you, how you go about military action will be a matter for the armed forces but I’m sure they will have a plan and it will not be to scatter tomahawk missiles at random across Syria. Will innocent civilians be killed maybe but that last breach of an international agreement as you put it has killed over 1400 men women and children.

    As for your comment about New Taliban I was going to answer that but Colins last post at 2.10 covers all I was going to say very eloquently.


    Syria: What is it that Cameron ‘gets’?

    interesting points from article written by Nick Robinson

  36. @Turk

    Unless it was being taken as a Royal Perogative emergency measure, the privy council should have been fully briefed on any military action being considered. They would then have been able to brief their fellows in the commons that there was sound planning being made.

    This didn’t happen.

    Conclusion: There was no such brief to the privy council, and the question of what exactly they were voting for was unanswered.

  37. Should EM win the 2015 GE and he becomes PM (which is all very possible) what might President Obama’s greeting to Ed be on their fist meeting, does one think?

    He really hasn’t done himself any favours for his future dealings with the US has he.

  38. @Jim (the other one)

    Re Nick Robinson on Cameron. If you watched the HOC debate, when Cameron made the ‘I get it’ comment, it was from a pre-prepared statement. So Cameron was aware that he might lose the vote and had decided that he would not continue to push for parliament to back UK force involvement in military strikes.

    It was pretty obvious that if the government did not back Labours amendment, that with Labour voting against the government motion, that the government might lose the vote. So why did the government whips not work harder to win the vote ? I have not heard of much pressure being applied and have heard of two Tories missing the vote, while in a nearby room.

    Does not make any sense to me. [] If you think about it, having a second vote in the HOC to specifically sanction military strikes would have been very difficult to win. Most Labour MP’s and many from the other parties would not have voted for it, unless there was much more work done e.g UN security council, investigations into the CW usage and analysis of the affects of a limited military strategy.

  39. @R Huckle

    I think the lost vote means next to nothing in the medium and long term, and zilch to the general public. Beyond the geeks and politicos, it will be tomorrow’s fish and chips paper.

    Therefore, losing a bit of face now is was the best option for Cameron. You are right – a second vote would have been harder to win and more risky.

    Add to that the chance of a surgical, limited strike evolving into a Middle East catastrophe, perhaps in a reflective moment Cameron might just thank his lucky stars it never got beyond first base.

  40. “@ Robert Newark

    Should EM win the 2015 GE and he becomes PM (which is all very possible) what might President Obama’s greeting to Ed be on their fist meeting, does one think?

    He really hasn’t done himself any favours for his future dealings with the US has he. ”

    Depends on what happens in Syria, after any limited military strikes. Obamas last statement said that he had not made up his mind on sanctioning the strikes, so perhaps they may not happen.

    From 2015 up to the presidential eleciton in November 2016, the US will mainly be concerned about national politics. It will be about the Democrats and Republicans choosing their candidates and raising money. Many on the Republican side appear to agree with Miliband, not due to politics, but on whether any limited military strikes would make it better or worse in Syria and the Middle East.

    Obama is still quiet popular around the world, but I don’t think it is expected for the normal allies to support him on every venture he volunteers US forces to help with. The UK is an independent country and can make up its own mind. Obama respects that the UK is a parliamentary democracy and does not have a president who can issue commands.

  41. @R Huckle

    “This was a Cunning Plan” has been proposed here before… But it doesn’t mesh with Cameron preparing to sack most of his whip’s office, and re-shuffling the cabinet in a Night of the Long Knives reasserting of his authority.

    This wasn’t a plan.

    He was reading from a statement, because his PPS would have made one for him just in case. In fact, obviously reading from a prepared statement shows he didn’t expect to use it, or he’d have it memorised. People read from prepared statements when their resignation is them being fired, not when they’ve quit.

    The reason he lost the vote, was because he had allowed, even encouraged, the Isolationist contingent of the Conservative party over immigration and “standing up to Europe”. Then is surprised that they now feel strong enough to dictate to the rest of the party on all of foreign policy.

    For all functional intent, there is now a power vacuum in our government where Cameron used to be. Unless he regains authority, this government has a life span of months.

  42. What would be Obama’s greeting to a PM called EM, post 2015?

    Possibilities :-)

    ‘Who are you then again?’


    ‘You would have been better off meeting Hillary I reckon’.

  43. I agree with Anarchists Unite. The proper way to deal with those responsible for the CW attacks is to find out beyond reasonable doubt who they are and bring them before the International Court. Not easy, but since when was it necessarily easy to bring criminal behaviour to justice?

    The last thing the world needed was a pair of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands and risking far more deaths and injuries than had occurred already. There is a morally correct and a procedurally correct way to do these things. They don’t always coincide, but they did on this occasion. DC didn’t seem to understand this. EM, it seems, debated with himself before coming to the correct conclusion.

  44. What would be Obama’s greeting to a PM called EM, post 2015?

    I could not honestly say without being partisan…
    and condescending.

  45. @ Colin

    The Syrian opposition is many-fold, I agree with you on this and also that the extreme are minority. The real question: who sets the agenda and what is the agenda (we don’t get much of this and it is an indication).

    If the Syrian opposition armed forces were 100,000, they would be winning (would have won). I don’t doubt that somebody said that, but it is wrong (9 divisions?). Probably 10-15,000 and it would explain the military aspect of the last 18 months.

  46. What will Obama’s greeting to PM EM after the 2015 election? The same as it would be to PM DC… “Congratulations on your victory, I look forward to working with you… Two great nations… Common history etc…” I doubt the formula has changed very much since the invention of trans Atlantic telephony. Obama is a politician, not a teenager. He will work with whoever is in power.

  47. There is so much rubbish being posted, I think I’m going to bow out until we have something else to talk about.

  48. Even if you say that the fundamentalists are a small minority of the Syrian rebels, that doesn’t mean the won’t be the ones running what’s left of Syria after the fall of Assad, the Taliban were not the biggest part of the Afghan resistance but they still defeated the other groups to take control of Afghanistan after the Russians left

  49. Perhaps Neil A might be interested in this?

    Belgian Premier Elio de Rupo scores 59% satisfaction with Belgian voters, his government 56%.

    I imagine our own leaders would like to know how that is achieved, given the straight jacket de Rupo has imposed on the finances.

    AW – is VTM a decent pollster?

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