YouGov have published some fresh polling on Syria to coincide with David Cameron’s statement today, though the fieldwork obviously preceded it. Approval for British participation in air strikes against ISIS in Syria now stands at 59%, 20% would disapprove. Asked about sending British and American ground troops back into Iraq 39% would approve, 34% would disapprove. The majority of those who back military action think that it should require the permission of the United Nations. 44% think military action should only take place with UN permission, 28% that it should take place regardless of what the UN say, 11% think it should NOT take place whatever the UN say.

47% of people say they trust David Cameron to make the right decisions in regard of Syria and ISIS, 43% do not. In comparison only 21% trust Jeremy Corbyn to make the right decisions, 68% do not (among those people who voted Labour in 2015 40% trust Jeremy Corbyn to make the right decisions on the issue, 46% do not).

Islamic State is seen as a threat to Britain by most people (45% a very serious threat, 40% fairly serious) and the situation in Syria is seen as impacting upon British interests (42% a major impact, 30% a minor impact). 47% of people think that airstrikes by Britain, France and the US would be effective at helping to defeat ISIS, 37% think they would not. This is not actually much different to the proportions who think ground troops would be effective (49%, with 32% thinking they wouldn’t). On the other hand a large majority (69%) of people think that Britain taking part in action against ISIS would increase the risk of terrorist attacks here in Britain – it would appear that many people think it is a risk worth taking.

Looking in some more detail at people’s attitudes to the Syria conflict, by 41% to 30% people think we should be prepared to work alongside President Assad to defeat ISIS. However, this is clearly seen as only a short term solution, only 12% think a peace plan that allowed Assad to remain in power would be acceptable, though a further 31% think it would be acceptable to allow Assad to escape prosecution for war crimes if he stepped down from power. 27% of people think that it is essential that any plan involves Assad being removed from power and tried for war crimes.

If some of British public can stomach the idea of dealing with President Assad, few can imagine any deal with ISIS. Only 15% think that the West should seek some form of negotiated peace with Islamic State/ISIS, 64% think their actions and views are so extreme that a deal is impossible and they must be defeated.

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184 Responses to “Latest YouGov polling on Syria”

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  1. I don’t really understand why the ‘moderate’/’rightist’ faction is acting the way they do. Corbyn is hugely popular among the Labour electorate, much more popular than they are. What do they hope to achieve with all this plotting? I’m not especially won over by Corbyn, but the antics of the rest of the party are pushing me towards him just because I feel it’s blatantly undemocratic to defy the will of your members like this. Obviously anecdotal, but I can’t be alone on that.

  2. @ Top Hat

    It’s not so different from Ed Miliband’s first 6 months when a few of the PLP were still chuntering on about his brother being their choice etc. etc.

  3. @ Amber

    You’re very generous to the few in the PLP – I thought they were still going on about the ‘wrong brother’ right up until (and after) Ed Miliband resigned :)

  4. AMBER
    “Anyway, it’s understandable how Labour got to the position, if their rules had worked as designed we wouldn’t be where we are! ”

    We aren’t.

  5. COUP
    “Labour could be putting forward a pretty strong anti-war case”

    They are.

  6. AMBER
    My post of 6.32 – Sorry, that was Anthony!! )-:

  7. @TopHat – what do you mean by ‘the Labour electorate’? To date, the polls indicate that Corbyn’s leadership did not give the party a substantial boost with voters and in the more recent polls, voter support seems to be falling away fast. Corbyn’s personal ratings remain poor too.

    A majority of the Labour Party membership, which includes a huge number of £3 entryists, seems broadly to support him but the membership and the electorate are two different things.

  8. Good early Morning everyone from Bournemouth East.

    I think in terms of the voters, the Labour Party leaderships should reflect on the fact that the members and associate members do not necessarily reflect the views of either the vast majority of the nine million voters who opted for Labour in 2015 and the two million voters in addition that Labour needs to win from the other parties in 2020.

  9. Neil
    “The difference is international law………”

    As there is now a unanimous UN resolution in place which authorises the use of ‘any/all means necessary’, then surely there is no legality issue in bombing Iraq?
    To me the issue is clear. We either support our allies or we don’t and if we don’t, we mustn’t be surprised if they don’t support us in our hour of need.

    One can imagine a Monty Python sketch set in the Roman Senate in 55BC hand wringing about invading Britain or not.

  10. Logic would dictate that the same conditions that apply to our intervention in Syria should apply to all the other countries involved. In other words, if the MPs believe that we have no business being there then presumably they believe that none of the other countries should intervene either, even if the consequences would mean that ISIL occupied the whole of Syria and Iraq. I’m sure they will have thought that through.

    Is there any polling on how people think regarding MPs having free votes on these difficult and controversial topics versus having a party line. It would be interesting to contrast the view of the general public versus that of party members.

  11. Oops! Typo. I meant to say, bombing Syria, rather than Iraq.


    I have not taken much interest in the debate on here of late but the point you make is i think compelling.

  13. RMJ1

    Any poll would almost definitely show people wanted a free vote. People think there should be free votes on anything you ask them about.

  14. @ Robert Newark

    As there is now a unanimous UN resolution in place which authorises the use of ‘any/all means necessary’, then surely there is no legality issue in bombing [Syria]?

    There is. The UN resolution does not authorise military force. Russia is there by invitation of the Syrian government. All others are now co-ordinating with (the Syrian government via) Russia.

  15. @AW
    “It’s a very technical query over the Labour party rules.”
    I know. I’ve read the legal opinion.
    “Essentially they aren’t drafted particularly well.”
    Essentially my point.
    If they can’t do that, to cover circumstances which, though rare, were not unforeseen, what else will they foul up?

    Actually the relevant part of the Rules states:
    “Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers
    each year prior to the annual session of party conference.
    In this case ANY nomination must be supported by 20 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.” [My emphasis]

    The argument seems to be about whether the existing leader (who is clearly not a challenger, and so does not need paragraph 1) also needs to be nominated.
    Nomination presumably means “have your name put on the ballot paper.”
    Suppose that the leader is so unpopular that s/he could not raise the 20% of para 2. S/he would then [rightly?] be barred from the election, as would any other nominee who could not command the support of 1 in 5 MPs. The 20% rule has two effects. It prevents frivolous challenges and ensures that the newly elected leader has a minimum level of support in the Commons [which now has become a safeguard against an election in which all and sundry may pay £3 and vote.]
    Currently this means 46 MPs, [46.2 = 46 or 47? do the rules cater for rounding up or down?] as against the 29 required by the 12.5% in a normal election for a vacant leadership position.

    If the party did not mean all this, the rules are badly drafted. A better wording would have been “The election shall then decide between the current leader and any challenger(s) with the support of at least 20% of the Commons members of the PLP.” but the rules do not say that.

    [I voted Tory in every general election until 2015 for 50 years – not because I agreed with all their policies, but because they at least didn’t look incompetent.

  16. If Labour got behind Corbyn and put forward a coherent left of centre policy stance, a lot of politics is salesmanship and presentation, Hilary Benn et al, uniting solidly behind Corbyn might persuade people of the Left’s case.

    If the case was given a good chance but it failed then Labour could move on, but now the Left will feel their case has never been properly put.

    If we look at Syria the SNP are not getting political fallout for their anti-war position because they are united and backing it up with reasoned arguments, if Labour were doing the same – we would be talking about the pros & cons of getting involved in Syria not Corbyn’s leadership.

    The problem with the present course is the Corbyn supporters who want a Left party will feel they were ‘betrayed’ and that the left wing agenda was never given a chance, they will not transfer their loyalty to the new leader.

    The PLP is happy to preside over a party with very few members & they do not see a problem with that, the fight is over who will end up with the ‘Labour Brand’ and the attached brand loyalty and organisation? The current course of action will see the party effectively split with the 250k Corbyn supporter likely to leave. Who will be the beneficiaries my guess is the Green Party. In fact the Green Party’s support of Corbyn might be in retrospect a very shrewd move.

  17. Labour moderates should just resign the party whip and form a faction. If they outnumber those that stay, they should form the official opposition. If not, then jeremy keeps the job.Labour voters could then choose for themselves at the next election between without acrimony between ‘momentum labour’ and whatever the faction is called.
    Rather than form a new party, the faction could join The Whigs. (Which is surely what ‘new labour’ really were all along, even though they probably didn’t know it).

  18. We seem to be at a very interesting point in opposition politics. As some have pointed out, Corbyn seems to remain popular with those that elected him, possibly losing support among those who are needed t vote for him in a GE, and being massacred in the battle for credibility within the press, media and upper levels of his own party. The critical question is whether this will tip over into a wider loss of electoral support.

    Personally, I’m extraordinarily shocked at how incompetent his leadership has been, and my current view is that in time, this will translate into Labour losing large groups of it’s own supporters. His overall stance n Syria is not, for me, the problem, but his palpable unsuitability for leadership is.

    I suspect Labour is now quietly imploding, and Corbyn’s days are numbered. What happens then will define politics for a long time to come, but I suspect the Tories will be laughing.

  19. @Coupar2802 – “If Labour got behind Corbyn ……”

    I think Corbyn needs to shoulder the blame. It’s staggering that he made a major commons speech on a critical defence issue without consulting his front bench.

    Someone on hear posted that Corbyn would be an inclusive and consensual leader – tosh, it turns out. Blinkered, divisive and without regard to the fate of his party, seem more accurate at this point.

    I like Corbyn’s policies, in the main, but he and his team have been utterly execrable in executing any kind of opposition and in maintaining leadership and dialogue with other factions within his party.

    Ideally, Corbyn needs to recognise he is not capable as a leader and step down to save his party.

  20. On their merits most of these Labour ‘moderates’ couldn’t draw flies. At least Corbyn can win an election; what does Hilary Benn offer apart from nepotism?

  21. @ DAVE

    Whether you view a party as not looking incompetent depends on your personal standpoint. If they are doing things you want them to do you will probably think they are competent. If they aren’t, you won’t. There is also the rule that politicians can never change their minds whilst the public are expected to all the time (otherwise why have opinion polls?)

  22. @Alec

    I was completely against Labour electing Corbyn but my views were dismissed as not credible because I was ‘scared Corbyn would take votes from the SNP’ but I knew it would be an eiectoral disaster but even I’m surprised at how badly it’s gone wrong.

    One of Corbyn’s problems is he is entirely inexperienced at leadership. He should appoint some leading Blairites to be his advisors and get a ‘leadership coach’ I know it sounds management speak – but he needs to learn how to manage people quickly. The Blairites would help him understand what is a ‘red rag’ to some in the PLP. And then get someone like Alistair Campbell to be his press secretary. Will he do any of this?

    If not then it’s war, a three line whip on the Syria vote, sack any cabinet minister who doesn’t vote accordingly, then unleash Momentum and let the deselections begin.

  23. Going back to the poll, is anyone else dismayed to find that as many as 15% of the public believe that the west could negotiate with ISIS. That’s more than voted for either the Lib Dems or UKIP. It can only be that they don’t understand the nature of the beast. Negotiating with people for whom the only acceptable outcome is your complete destruction or subjugation, would appear to be completely futile.

  24. Couper2802,

    Good points. I would have thought that Labour would have been a lot more disciplined and Corbyn would be a much cannier party manager.


    An appearance of gender balance in Corbyn’s top team?

  25. Alec,

    One of the interesting things will be whether or not the left of the Labour party will keep together if things go badly for Corbyn. Period of left-wing ascent in Labour have tended to have fairly clear turning points against them, e.g. in retrospect at least Benn losing his seat (after boundary changes and local shenanigans) in 1983 was a very important moment in Labvour party history.

  26. For what my view is worth, I think a leader from the left of the party could have worked out basically fine, and had at least a fighting chance at an election.

    The problem seems to have been choosing one with such a long history of saying and doing things which annoy people he needs onside – PLP members who served in the last Labour government, party members who supported that government, and the electorate at large, to name three.

    Let’s not pretend Jeremy Corbyn possesses any unique attributes which mean only he could have won the leadership this summer. A combination of the voting system and the timing of the election meant that the win was always likely to go to a candidate with that kind of message. It was, in his words, “his turn”. In some ways, Labour might be grateful that Diane Abbott wasn’t standing this time!

    I also don’t think that message will always hold, even among the people who joined just to vote for Corbyn. I have little doubt that candidates from the centre or right (for example Stella Creasy) could still win if they played their cards right.

    But so many of the problems of Corbyn’s leadership so far have been down to incompetence, not ideology or various people being mean (the press doesn’t like Labour? Well that’s new). It’s pretty objectively bad in a democracy to have an opposition not capable of challenging the government. It leads to complacency and sloppiness.


    I agree with that. I can’t see Corbyn succeeding even on his own terms. The incompetence of many of his opponents should not be ignored though.

    I think on balance it would be better to get rid of him this week.

  28. @RMJ1

    Going back to the poll, is anyone else dismayed to find that as many as 15% of the public believe that the west could negotiate with ISIS. That’s more than voted for either the Lib Dems or UKIP. It can only be that they don’t understand the nature of the beast. Negotiating with people for whom the only acceptable outcome is your complete destruction or subjugation, would appear to be completely futile.

    It’s rather pointless being dismayed with the views of others.

    Such calls are subjective.

    Some people might be dismayed that 59% of the UK population support the bombing ISIS in Syria (and therefore that it will achieve something positive).

    You pay your money and take your choice…

  29. OK folks why is the Survation poll so different from YouGov

    Bombing approval YouGov +38, Survation +18

    Support for bombing collapsing? (my preferred answer)


    ‘I think on balance it would be better to get rid of him this week.’

    But that is not possible unless he decides to walk! Failing that Labour are stuck with Corbyn until the party conference in late September 2016..

  31. Go this week? Don’t be siily.

  32. @MrNameless,

    I think you have it. There is nothing inherently difficult about winning a General Election from the left. A reasonably competent and charismatic socialist, with a history of compromise and teamwork, could easily unite Labour around “easy” issues like health, housing and living standards – and turn down the volume on difficult issues like immigration, national security, constitutional reform and welfare.

    Sadly that person isn’t Corbyn. He certainly shares the same socialist inclinations on those “easy” issues, but he’s too much of an iconoclast to “smooth over” issues where he has strong views, and too inept at party politics to reach compromise with colleagues.

    The only way out next week is a free vote, perhaps followed by a “kick it into the long grass” review of Labour policy on military issues (accompanied by a broad agreement by all Labour factions not to talk about it “until we’ve completed the review”). Of course, that’s exactly the kind of political fudge that Corbyn hates.

  33. Shapps has quit the cabinet over bullying. A break in the clouds? Or is it to trivial to distract the media?

  34. People talk as if the only solutions are war or no war – what about all the other tools of diplomacy, negotiations and so on? War should be an option only after all else has failed. Sadly it has become the default.

    More military action in Syria plays right into Daesh’s hands. Concerns about taking over the whole of Syria are justified in this context. It should be easy from a population that have been bombed by their own government as well as that of the US, Russia, France et al.

    Let’s also not forget that it’s widely believed that Saudi is selling arms to Daesh. The largest amount of arms the UK exports is to Saudi. It’s not hard to guess why David C is so keen on another war in the desert, despite the inevitable cost to civilian life. This, in addition to the issue of wanting a gas pipeline built through Syria so there’s less reliance on Russian gas. As always, follow the money.

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