The issue of how to respond to refugees fleeing from the war in Syria has been rumbling on for months, but became far more of an issue last week because of photographs of the body of toddler Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach and media coverage of groups of refugees travelling across Hungary.

The coverage provoked a strong reaction on social media and led to petitions and campaigns in favour of Britain doing more to welcome more Syrian refugees to the country. There was a perception that public opinion had shifted in favour of doing more to help Syrian refugees as a result of the emotive photographs. However, social media is not necessarily reflective of wider public opinion, people making a noise and signing petitions are not necessarily reflective of those keeping quiet. Is there any actual hard evidence that people have become more welcoming towards Syrian refugees… or did that proportion of British people who have always welcomed refugees just speak up more vocally?

Since last week there have been polls from ComRes, Survation and YouGov asking about whether Britain should accept more Syrian refugees:

ComRes for Newsnight (tabs) asked if Britain should take more or fewer refugees from Syria and Libya than it currently does – 40% said more, 31% fewer, 26% about the same. A later question asked if Britain was taking its fair share of responsibility to deal with people coming to Europe from Syria, and found a pretty similar split: 39% said Britain wasn’t doing enough, 22% too much, 36% about the right amount.

Survation for the Mail on Sunday (tabs) asked how many Syrian refugees people thought Britain should accept: 29% said none at at all, 27% less than 10,000, 15% 10,000, 9% more than 10,000. They also asked specifically about Yvette Cooper’s suggestion of each local authority taking 10 families – 35% supported, 42% opposed.

Finally YouGov asked some questions split between the Sun, ITN and their own site (tabs here, here and here). They found 50% of people said that Britain should be doing more to deal with the migrant crisis… but of course, “doing more” does not necessarily equate to letting more people in. Some respondents could have imagined doing more as meaning doing more to help refugees in camps in the Middle East, or doing more to prevent refugees getting into Europe. Asking specifically about the number of Syrian refugees that should be allowed into Britain 36% said that we accept a higher number of refugees from Syria, 24% about the same number, 27% fewer or none at all.

YouGov also asked how many Syrian families should be allowed into Britain, but most respondents said don’t know (perhaps because YouGov asked about families, rather than individuals, or perhaps because the Survation survey had already asked about Yvette Cooper’s proposal of 10,000, so respondents had a reference point for their answer). 22% said Britain should not accept any Syrian refugee families, 14% less than 10,000, 8% more than 10,000.

Overall the three points paint a pretty consistent picture. A significant minority of the British public want the country to accept more refugees from Syria, but it is a minority. Most people think the current numbers are about right or we should admit even less, a significant minority would like to accept none at all.

But even if most people don’t want to accept more Syrian refugees, did last week’s harrowing coverage increase support for accepting Syrian refugees at all? YouGov found 9% of people said seeing the images of Aylan Kurdi changed their view and made them think we should accept more refugees, however I’m always rather dubious about such questions. What we really need is a question that was asked before and after to see how views have changed. The only one I can find is in this YouGov poll. Way back in May 29% of people agreed with the statement that the UK should be a place of refuge for Syrian refugees, when that was reasked last week it had gone up to 41%. With four months between the figures it’s not possible to pin it upon a single event, but it does look as if people have indeed become significantly more positive towards the idea of accepting refugees from Syria over the last few months… opinion just hasn’t moved so much that a majority would welcome more Syrian refugees.

464 Responses to “Has Britain become more welcoming towards refugees?”

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  1. Rosie Winterton reappointed chief whip

  2. Blairism was popular during the world’s biggest credit bubble 1998-2008.


    After 2008 there was a big push to blame the borrowers and the only counter was a smokescreen over banker bonuses which lefties fell for because they can’t do numbers.

    The actual problem is the ability and cyclical tendency of the bankers to lower the cost of borrowing too much leading to a massive boom, massive bust, depression and usually world war.

    I’m pretty much the opposite of Corbyn but if he has any sense he’ll unbury that Vickers bloke and talk to him about proper bank regulation as the problems with the TBTF megabanks are one of the very few potential shields he’s got from the mountain of sh*te the media are going to pour on his head.

    The other shield is putting a road bump in the way of Britain’s involvement in Iraq 2.0.

  3. The Labour moderates in PLP have no grounds for complaint.

    Corbyn won fair and square and the moderates only have themselves to blame for going along with the Tory economic argument. They brought this on themselves.

  4. @Sorrel
    “What the new Labour does will have some effect on them, but I wonder just how much people base their preference, this far from an election, on what the opposition do. My guess is that how the government behaves is the crucial thing, and they gain and lose support on their own.”

    This is usually true. Almost always in fact. However, Corbyn still has to put himself in the best position to take advantage of, and perhaps even force, government errors. Corbyn realises he has time on his side so he appears to be adopting a strategic approach. The Tories are banking on a tactical approach – set up a series of early votes to undermine Corbyn. It will be fascinating to see which one works.

  5. Turns out the reason Jamie Reed resigned is because Sellafield is in his constituency and is a major employer – and Corbyn wants to close it, leaving all those people unemployed.

    Reed has put his constituents before his party.

    I bet we see more of this: the needs of Labour constituents being quite different to the desires of Labour members, with the MP in the middle having to make a choice.

  6. Candy

    Reducing smoking costs jobs in the tobacco industry including those in developing countries; would you oppose anti-smoking measures too?

  7. It’d be nice to see a “Race for Second Place” breakdown of how the votes work out when you eliminate Corbyn… But alas the Labour Party have not released that.

    It is for all purposes clear that Corbyn would have…
    * Won under the previous electoral college.
    * Won a straight FPTP election.
    * Won a straight FPTP election even if limited to membership only, and excluding affiliates and supporters.
    * Almost certainly would have won if limited to membership, if only a tiny fraction of voters listed him as their second preference.

    With turnout at 76.3%, this is a pretty iron clad mandate to lead the party. There may well be some sweating going on in the PLP as they try to figure out to whom they should owe their allegiances. I expect there will be many Labour MPs making their way back to their constituencies to gauge their local activists.

    I suspect the hard-core Blairites burnt their bridges before realising exactly how the vote shares had settled out.

  8. @Hawthorn

    Smoking hasn’t been banned has it?

    Corbyn wanted to ban nuclear power stations making people in Jamie Reed’s constituency unemployed. But their MP has decided to defend his constituents rather than pander to Corbyn’s eccentricities for career reasons. He is Principled!

  9. …or he wants to be re-elected to Parliament in 2020. 4000 isn’t so comfortable a majority that you can throw your constituents under a bus and hope to get away with it.

  10. Candy

    You haven’t answered my point.

  11. @Hawthorn

    What’s your point? That being anti-austerity is about making people unemployed to pander to the views of the Glorious Leader?

    Or that people in other countries are losing jobs so people here must too, because true anti-austerity is making everyone poor?

    If tobacco growing areas of the world are losing jobs because they can’t export, it’s up to their representatives to create new jobs, and they have, see the Southern USA.

    In the mean while the people working at Sellafield have elected an MP to defend their interests, and he is doing so despite his Dear Leader demanding he sacrifice them on the altar of his extremeness.

  12. Better late than never. The leadership results eye candy –

  13. Candy

    Then Jamie Reed should try to create new jobs too.

    I thought Blairites were supposed to be against state-subsidised industry?

    Anyhoo, does anyone really believe this is the reason for totally class-free resignation?

    Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Burnham to be leader, not Corbyn but there is no point in acting like prats about this.

  14. @Candy

    Not wanting nuclear power is not a eccentricity.

    It’s a Principled (I know you like that word) objection to a form of energy potentially can be very dangerous and creates toxic waste for a very long time. It’s it very, very expensive and require the Government to underwrite expensive decommissioning costs.

    It would be nice to have lots of Mr Reed’s constituents employed in renewable energy. Sadly, both wind and solar have been critically undermined in recent times….

  15. Well, it does depend what kind of nuclear energy you use. You may have missed my posts on Thorium…

  16. Candy almost certainly has…

  17. @Jayblanc

    This Leadership election has shown the influence of Blairites has reduced to close to zero. The once heart of the party has become just toxic.

    The elements of the PLP like Rachel Reeves and Tristam Hunt have painted themselves quite needlessly into a corner.

    I think this fundamental shift of power will take some sorting out. All those MPs who were strongly anti-Corbyn are completely on the wrong side of the argument in Labour Party terms.

    I read a tweet from Matt Singh last night about similarities between the rise of Corbyn being like the rise of the SNP, people not taking it seriously until it hit them hard. Scottish Labour is still staggering from that blow.

  18. @Carfrew

    Will you join JC’s Shadow Cabinet as Minister for energy?

  19. @Hawthorn

    For all we know he probably is. But he’s defending existing jobs too.

    If Corbyn’s schtick is that anti-austerity is about making Labour voters unemployed so everyone is equally poor (and you can be sure the Conservative MPs are robustly defending the needs of their voters so only Lab voters are in for this treatment), then I would be surprised if there were any Labour MPs returned at the next election.

    There is also the issue about misleading voters during an election – just like LibDems in 2010 had no idea when they were voting that Clegg would U-turn on tuition fees, the people in Sellafield had no idea when they were voting Labour that Corbyn Lab would want to make them unemployed.

    All Reed is guilty of is sticking to his contract with the people who elected him. They elected him to defend them and he is defending them. This is what Parliamentary representation is all about.

    P.S. Your smoking analogy is off base. Al Gore says that he’s still making very nice profits from his tobacco plantations but thanks you for your concern that he’s not making even more.

  20. I’m going to be keeping a close eye on how the Lib Dems react to this. It should be interesting. Farron’s first test. I should know quite soon whether it’s worth staying or leaving.

  21. Ian Mears MP tweeting that over 10,000 have joined as members of the Labour Party in the aftermath of the Leadership election. Wow , wow and wow. What a wonderful day this has been.

  22. @ Candy

    Parties are not nice to their members when they have these democratic processes.

    The only party I joined split itself to two only 6 months after my joining (the two are unrelated). Moreover, it was facilitated by a Trotskyist who though that the new (the reformist wing) party would be easier to gain for the revolution. He was wrong. As a matter of fact, I stayed for a month with the discarded lot, wrote their housing policy, which was summarily shot down, because of more important things (like admitting our errors). This story is full of parallels, with more or less correctness.

    I actually think that a major, irreversible thing has happened (ok within medium term) to the Labour Party. Yet, centrist can have plenty of room in it, if they want it. But blaming the system, seeking excuses for tweeting resignation during the acceptance speech …

  23. @ Hawthorn.

    Jamie Reed should try to create new jobs too.

    He’s created at least one new job on the Labour frontbench.

  24. @ Spearmint

    It shows that he is a man of principles. What is in his heart, is on his Twitter (he wears his heart on his Twitter, sorry for the immigrant’s error of Englis idioms).

  25. Spearmint

    “He’s created at least one new job on the Labour frontbench.”

    It’ll be interesting to see how many Lab MPs cross the floor and create job opportunities for Lab candidates.

  26. So, it happened. The most severe break a major party has made with their previous leadership in the last century, and possibly ever. There are no comparisons. IDS, Foot, Blair, Thatcher – none of them even come close. Labour have elected a 66 year-old (71 come the next election) serial rebel with the genuine backing of less than 20 MPs who only entered the contest because, and I paraphrase, ‘Diane was running was Mayor and John had tried before’.

    Of course that number of backers will now increase. A good number of left-leaning MPs will go with the flow and embrace Corbynmania, others won’t want to give up their front-bench careers for an uncertain life on the backbenches. But there is no getting away from the fact that management of the parliamentary party is going to be challenging in the extreme. The number of new rebels from the Liz Kendall wing of the party will in all probability exceed the number of old rebels among Corbyn’s loyalists. There are several important issues on which Corbyn will struggle to get his way.

    The shadow cabinet appointments will be fascinating. Where possible I expect he’ll look for unifiers but there are some posts where he needs somebody that will sing off his hymn sheet, and he’s already lost a good portion of the experience that was there. Hilary Benn will likely be a key figure – Corbyn needs to convince him to stay on to provide some substantial experience. Without him they might conceivably have nobody with cabinet level experience at all. The woman problem – not Corbyn’s fault to be fair – also needs addressing, which reduces wiggle room on Shadow Chancellors. Angela Eagle is probably the only realistic option, though Lisa Nandy shouldn’t be ruled out. Filling junior shadow ministerial posts could be very tough indeed – to do so he’ll probably need to draw to a large extent on the new intake.

  27. Jack Sheldon

    The most severe break a major party has made with their previous leadership in the last century, and possibly ever.”

    The change from Gordon Wilson to Alex Salmond was pretty massive too.

  28. @catman

    Wouldn’t there be a requirement to vote and stuff? ‘Cos that might be one of a number of potential impediments. But in principle, yes, we should be looking to get UKPR represented in all areas of Government. Alec might suit the energy brief, except for a blind spot about Thorium. (Once AW starts organising residentials where re-education can take place, this needn’t be a problem…)

  29. The CPGB (ML) whoever they are put out the stupidest Trotskyist article on today’s events. The Socialist Pary (whoever they are) are not much behind. Even if I have nothing to do with them, I feel ashamed.

    Anyway, as to the shadow cabinet Corbyn has a challenge, but as to experience, if I remember correctly, the first Blair government didn’t have much either (So I assume that his shadow didn’t have much either).

  30. Lizh
    It will be 10,001 soon. I made a pledge on this site a while back that if Corbyn wins I’d leave the Greens and join labour. Corbyn though HAS to look at some kind of electoral pact with the Greens. They’re basically the same party now it’s totally stupid to compete against one another.

  31. Just saw Nicola Sturgeon’s comments on the 10 o’clock news, something along the lines of “if Jeremy Corbyn is seen to be unelectable in England, then the only choice the people of Scotland will have to perpetual Tory government is independence”.

    Remind me again why Alistair Carmichael is in court? It seems that the “lie” he is being accused of spreading was very much the truth ;)

  32. @OldNat

    I said major party :)


    Blair’s shadow team – which he largely inherited from John Smith – was actually relatively experienced. Not at cabinet level, unsurprisingly given they’d been out for 15 years by the time he became leader. But Prescott, Brown, Cook, Straw, Harman, Blunkett, Beckett and a few others too had all been around for quite some time already. In fact a major feature of all Blair’s cabinets was that he never really brought on much new talent – that that he did bring in often didn’t last long or got mistreated. Which probably explains why nobody of any stature has taken up the Blairite flame post-2010.

  33. The media and Tories are scared. They don’t know how to deal with Corbyn because he is not playing their game.

    Tim Stanley says in the Telegraph: “The Corbynites are running for office in a parallel world. They aren’t just about breaking the rules, they are about refusing to play the game.”

  34. @RIVERS10

    Welcome. I am sure many more will be joining you.

  35. It was wonderful to see Billy Bragg back in the political scene and singing the Red Flag.

  36. LizH

    I really don’t think they are, although they should be. Not because I expect Labour to poll 50% under Corbyn, but more because the debate will likely be shifted leftwards in many areas (much as UKIP shifted the debate in other ways).

    In their current situation, Labour have to reform themselves and reconnect with their base before thinking about expanding further. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts back into power.

  37. PollTroll

    The 2nd part of your username seems to be accurate?

    Since your memory seems remarkably short, here’s a link to the petitioners’ arguments.

    I regret to say that I can do nothing to correct your inbuilt inability to comprehend events.

  38. Lizh keep telling yourself that.

    If you say it enough, you might be able to convince yourself.

    The UK public, even many Labour supporters are not going to vote for a man who calls terrorists our friends, says its wrong to criticize iran for killing gay teens and backs a man calling for the death of our troops ( he lobbied on 6 seperate occasions for Dyab Abou Jahjah to be allowed into the UK after labour banned him for his remarks about british troops)

    I know many Labour supporters, and while we dont agree on much politically, they are decent people and will never be won over by someone like that!

  39. @LizH

    No, they’re not. Not at all. But there is perhaps some recognition that Corbyn is a more unknown enemy than Burnham in particular would have been.


    The debate switching leftwards is great news for the Tories on most issues (leaving aside immigration, perhaps, where UKIP could cash in). A perfect chance to put the ‘nasty party’ image to bed for once and for all.

  40. @OldNat: yes I admit I am distorting the truth somewhat; however, I was very surprised that Sturgeon didn’t go with “I will work with Jeremy to help build a progressive, anti-austerity alliance”.

  41. Jack Sheldon

    So presumably they will be dropping the anti-Trade Union stuff then for example?

    Cameron couldn’t move left anyway as his backbenchers wouldn’t let him.

  42. PollTroll

    Ah you mean that you wanted her to say what she actually said?

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped to work with Mr Corbyn in a “progressive alliance against Tory austerity”. (BBC Scotland)

  43. @Hawthorn

    The trade union bill is entirely in line with public opinion. Personally, I see no reason why it should be controversial. If TUs can attract 50% turnouts for strike ballots and get their members to opt in to paying the levy it will make no difference whatsoever. I don’t think that’s much to ask.

    On many issues we’ve already seen a tack left since the election and that will only continue. Stuff like the national living wage is popular with backbenchers. By 2020 – barring a major economic setback – Osborne will have been able to declare austerity over and the economic debate will therefore have shifted.

  44. @Hawthorn, MiM and Jack Sheldon

    The Tories criticising Corbyn’s election are not allowed to use their own words and instead they are all robotically mouthing the script from CCHQ “Labour Party is a threat to national and economic security and stability”.

    Just heard Priti Patel and Michael Fallon and no doubt others will do the same. It is just hilarious.

  45. I have read few comments on this site about JC’s age.

    Given we are in an aging society, I don’t see 66 as that old really. He seems fit and well, and has obviously handled a massive countrywide tour very well.

    He seems intellectually sharp, and has the benefit of being comfortable in his skin.

  46. Catmanjeff
    Vegetarianism will do that to you ;)


    If 66 is too old to work, then the HOL should be empty.

  48. MIM
    ‘Killing our troops’? If our troops are used as instruments of aggression they can hardly expect anything else!

  49. @Rivers10

    I was aware of that :-)


    In the HoL, at 66 you still go to the Creche.

    “In the HoL, at 66 you still go to the Creche.”


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