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.

Full tabs are here.

184 Responses to “Latest YouGov polling on Syria”

1 2 3 4
  1. YouGov Q

    “In 2013, MPs voted against Britain taking any part in military action against Syria. In hindsight, do you think that was the right or wrong decision?”

    1. Right decision – Britain was right to keep out of any military attack on Syria
    2. Wrong decision – we should have been willing to act alongside the United States
    3. Don’t know

    There is no mention that we were intending to bomb Assad NOT ISIS, which is a rather pertinent point, when deciding whether the 2013 decision was correct.

  2. Is there any polling on whether peeps think the polling companies are any cop?

    You’d think they above all would appreciate the survey feedback…

  3. Reports this evening saying Labour in new meltdown following A Corbyn letter to MPs re Syria vote.

    Seems to be no end to the agony for the Reds- and the voters look on on in open mouthed bewilderment.

  4. If he hadn’t written a letter, there would prolly be reports saying they’re in meltdown because he didn’t write to them.

    Would not surprise one day to read the headline “Labour in meltdown following Corbyn announcing a cure for cancer”

  5. “The letter Jeremy Corbyn has sent out to MPs is intended for the attention of party members. It declares his opposition to military action in Syria.

    One Labour frontbencher said: “This is war, and I’m not talking about Syria.”

    One member of the Shadow Cabinet said: “How do you deal with someone like that?” The Shadow Cabinet member accused Jeremy Corbyn of dishonesty and attempted intimidation.The Corbyn critics in the Shadow Cabinet say the deal in the room was to “take counsel and keep counsel” over the weekend. They believe Jeremy Corbyn has gone behind their backs and broken the agreement made in the room by writing a letter that is intended to stir up his supporters in the country to lobby their MPs to back him on Syria. ”

    Gary Gibbon

  6. I agree Couper

    If that is correct yougov are a disgrace.
    The 2013 vote was about taking military action against Aassad.
    This vote will be about ISIS.

    However if you listen to some government spokespersons they ask the the same question as yougov.
    No wonder the polling industry is not trusted.

  7. Dez @ Couper

    I agree too.

    Seems we can’t even blame the “evil Tory MSM” either. This seems to be a totally YouGov bit of misdirection.

    Whether deliberate, or just incompetence? – hard to tell.

  8. Is it me, or is everybody losing site of the fact the last vote was about bombing Assad, something that in hindsight could have improved the position of ISIS, a big mistake. Even as a conservative voter, I am nervous about yet again going the way of Middle East air strikes. I don’t think they will achieve the desired outcome, but on the other hand I think something needs to be done. It’s a tough one.

    On a separate note, what the heck has happened to Labour? They just look completely unelectable to me.

  9. @Anthony Wells,

    Seeing the complete unravelling of party discipline on the Lab benches, I was just wondering whether it would be constitutional for someone OTHER than the leader of the largest party to be leader of the opposition. Basically, the person who can command a majority in the house becomes PM (whether or not they are a party leader, Churchill wasn’t). Could the same apply to the opposition?

    If, as seems likely, 200 of the 240 Lab MPs would more support (for e.g.) Hillary Benn than Corbyn, could the Queen invite Benn to be Leader of the Opposition?

    Just as a government can’t function without commanding the house, the opposition can’t function if the leader can’t command a majority of opposition MPs.

  10. On cue, yet another poll emerges that shows the world and his wife agreeing with the Government. This time it’s about bombing Syria, but it could just as easily be about welfare, immigration, tax, security, health, the deficit, public spending or education, such appears to be the pronounced centre right leanings of the British electorate. I remain completely baffled by all this and wonder how the political party that embodies these attitudes, the Tories, has fared so poorly in recent general elections. They did win a majority for the first time in a quarter of a century in May this year, but it was an historically anaemic mandate and yet, when you look at all these opinion polls, they should be carrying all before them. If all these polls are right, then Great Britain is indeed a very, very conservative country.

    Maybe this will be proved in next Thursday’s by-election. On the basis of current polling, I fully expect a stonking performance from the Tories in Oldham West and Royton. Labour and UKIP, be worried.

    Be very, very worried.

  11. Rich

    I agree .

    The English like the officer class to lead them.
    Labour only win with the Oxbridge types Wilson and Blair.

    However I do like a bit of chaos Corbyn is causing as he gets people to think wether you agree with him or not, over austerity war and peace.,
    If the Conservatives had questioned more in 2003, Blair might have had to re-think as many Labour MPs voted against.

  12. Adrian B –

    The leader of the opposition is defined in the Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975.

    It is the member of the House who is the leader in the House of the party in opposition to Her Majesty’s Government having the greatest numerical strength in the House of Commons.

    If there is any dispute as to who that is (either which party it is, or who the leader of that party is) then the Speaker decides who it is, and his decision is final.

    The only way I imagine it would come into doubt is if the Parliamentary Labour Party elected their own de facto Leader in Parliament, leaving Jeremy Corbyn as de jure, but bypassed, Labour leader – then Bercow would have to decide who was the actual Labour leader in the House of Commons. That said, the Labour party rule book is crystal clear that the leader of the party is, ex officio, the leader in the Commons. No ifs or buts, Jeremy Corbyn is legally Leader of the Opposition.

    Ultimately there does need to be a leader of the opposition for various procedural purposes (during the WW2 coalition various Labour backbenchers held the position for technical purposes so things could work as usual, but they didn’t actually oppose), but there is no need for them to command the votes of most opposition MPs.

  13. @Crossbat,

    *cough*….expectation management…*cough*

    I don’t really see the UK as a very conservative country. More as a fairly populist and easily led country.

    If a Tornado crashes in Raqqa and the pilots are killed, the numbers would swing heavily the other way overnight.

    Then if there was a terrorist attack in Birmingham the week after that, they’d swing back the other way.

    All politicians can do is try and do what they think is right, and frame the debate to their political advantage as much as possible.

    I believe Corbyn and Cameron both do the former most of the time (Corbyn almost all the time) but Cameron takes chunks out of Corbyn at the latter.

    Anything other than a Labour victory in Oldham would be both a surprise and a catastrophe.

  14. Crossbat:

    The majority who voted at they last election voted for right wing parties.

  15. Anthony,

    Thanks for clarifying the Leader of the Opposition situation. An interesting scenario (I can’t see that it would ever come up) would be what happened if the two parties in opposition had an equal number of seats. While the Speaker’s position would be final, I can’t see it being seen as very democratic.

  16. @ Mrnameless,

    Surely in that scenario, the only fair way to decide would be a tag wrestling match between the competing Leader/Deputies.

  17. @Mr Nameless
    You said ” if THE two parties in opposition had an equal number of seats.”
    It would be even more unlikely that there be so few parties, even though some have MPs in single figures.
    If the two largest opposition parties had the same number of MPs, if they could not agree to act together, then the one which could muster most support from the minor parties would presumably be the one to put forward a leader of HM Opposition.
    A governing party with a coalition Opposition – an interesting scenario.
    An alternative would be for a government MP to take the Chiltern Hundreds and let the two opposition parties fight it out in the by-election!

  18. @crossbat11

    I don’t think the UK is an especially Conservative country. The UK is a moderate country, it tends to reject the extremes. The public are often agreeing with the government because although radical in a few areas, this is a moderate government. With Corbyn’s leadership Labour has stopped being a moderate party.

    The UK is quite “small c” conservative, e.g. the respect for tradition and literal conservation (check out the revenue and membership of the National Trust). But in those areas that you listed, not really.

    For example – health? The NHS is a socialist thing in principle and the public are averse to changing that by privatising it. Also I don’t see how this poll on Syria intervention shows centre-right leanings. This is not a left/right issue. Agreeing with the government’s position on Syria does not make you right-wing, it’s not like agreeing with the government on the importance of running a surplus (which would make you fiscally conservative).

  19. And regarding the election result, the Conservatives didn’t win a huge majority because in the 2015 election the Tories were not the only party which could attract moderate voters. So it shouldn’t be that puzzling imo.

  20. Seems that the French and the Russians have agreed to coordinate their attacks on Daesh and agreed to avoid striking any groups fighting the Islamic extremists. – despite their different stances on Assad.

    Now, if only the USA, UK (probably) and the Turks would do the same …..

  21. Omni
    “The NHS is a socialist thing in principle and the public are averse to changing that by privatising it.”

    Has any polling been done about privatising the NHS? My experience is that people don’t care who provides the care so long as it’s free at the point of use, with certain exceptions such as prescriptions for working people.

    After all, large parts of the NHS have always been provided by private companies – e.g. GPs, pharmacists, opticians, dentists. I really don’t get this shibboleth about privatising the NHS. It’s simply inaccurate historically.

  22. Omni
    Thanks, that’s interesting, though I couldn’t see a date on it.. I wonder if (regarding the NHS in particular) the question had been extended with the phrase ‘if it was going to cost the same either way’, it would have made any difference?

    As asked, the question might lead people to think that they would have to pay if it was privatised.

    Also, there’s no reason why a central organisation such as NHS England couldn’t still exist to regulate and commission from private providers (as it already does), but perhaps that’s too complex for a polling question.

  23. @ Pete B

    The date of the public v private polling is 04/11/2013 according to the link.

  24. @pete b

    It’s from November 2013

    Yeah it would be interesting to see how people respond to those variations but I’m pretty sure I remember other polls also saying the public don’t want it privatised. Whereas much of the “post-war consensus” has been disregarded, the publicly funded NHS is the big exception.

  25. Ipsos-MORI, celebrating 20 years of polling in Scotland, have details of their recent questions on their site.

    Amongst other questions as how their sample thinks matters might be in 2025, they asked about the likelihood of Life on Mars having been identified – and we have the crossbreaks by VI for Holyrood constituencies! :-)

    Party : VI (as % of sample) : % saying likely

    SNP : 52% : 28%
    Lab : 20% : 27%
    Con : 17% : 29%
    L-D : 7% : 15%
    Oth : 5% : 29%

    LDs seem very pessimistic about variants of life existing.

  26. As You say, Anthony, this is a suject on which the polls have difficulty in keeping up with events.

    As a personal reaction [snip – can we please keep it to wider public opinion, and not get into a discussion of what each other thinks about what the govt should do – AW]

  27. So, to summarise. Cameron made a case for bombing Daesh, assuming that the moderate beheaders then could fight the radical beheaders better (the Kurds are taken out of it as they would be bombed by Turkey (who are allies, although they are profiteers of Daesh) so they can’t participate), and if odd civilians are caught up on in the process of beheading (is it better than the auto-da-fe?) it is a calculated risk. But the moderate beheaders can’t do anything until the Syrian army resist, so the Syrian army needs to be bombed, while the Russians bomb the moderate beheaders. Gosh, I’m losing the plot. Jumping logical steps: is it Libya repeated? Can’t be, because the Russians won’t let it happen.
    So, what did Cameron actually talk about for two hours (including questions)?

  28. Good evening all or should that be good morning all from Westminster North…Mixed fortunes on the ole footy tonight for the Reds and Hoops.


    Public support in the UK might grow for air strikes in Syria if the RAF are instructed to bomb IS controlled oil headed for Turkey.

    And you have to love the Russian response when they were asked why they were not just targeting IS but other rebel groups as well.

    “We can’t distinguish crap from crap”

    I also hear that a tsunami and earthquake have hit North East Fife tonight…………….in a political sense!

  29. I also hear that a tsunami and earthquake have hit North East Fife tonight…………….in a political sense!

    SNP hold 2 council seats. Turnout 24%.

  30. Being a posh boy from a posh school, largely devoted to providing the govvernment of the UK, Cameron writes a good essay setting our why he thinks, or would like us to think he thinks, we should add our Tornadoes to the anti-ISIS weaponry in Syria, and says it well from the rostrum. We follow him, even if we don’t know whether he is right or not, because he does a good job of persuasion .
    If he decides that the advantage for the UK is to avoid engaging in the conflict in Syria, because the Russians, US and French are already dealing with the situation,our contribution would be tokenism, and against our belief that Assad should go, and therefore we should stay out of the conflict and increase the proven support for a safe and effective refugee programme in neighbouring states, we would still agree with him. Again it would be ecause he would make a good ob of prersuading us. Even more so in that case because we know that there ismore than a small chance that Corbyn is right to point to the uncertain consequences of conflict, and the eventual need for an internationally negotiated peace including he eradication of ISIS in Syria and in Iraq and North Africa and its associates in Africa and extremists within European countries.
    As with tax credits and policing, we are seeing a very bizarre conflict between rhetoric and reason.

  31. @”As with tax credits and policing, we are seeing a very bizarre conflict between rhetoric and reason.”

    I love this sort of stuff-the voters/mps don’t agree with me, so they must have failed to understand , or have been beguiled by a posh person from a posh school.

    This paper thin veneer of support for “democratic” decision making is beginning to show what is really underneath in a few interesting places at present.

  32. …………and what struck me about yesterday’s statement & debate was Cameron’s complete lack of “rhetoric”.

    He was respectful of Corbyn’s view & said so. He arranged Security briefings for all the party heads, & they all thanked him for it. He constantly repeated that military /security assessments were not his own. He encouraged Vaz to bring Security Chiefs before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

    And when he said :
    “”That bomb in Paris, that could have been London. If they had their way, it would be London,”
    “I can’t stand here and say we are safe from all these threats. We are not. I can’t stand here either and say we will remove the threat through the action that we take.
    “But do I stand here with advice behind me that taking action will reduce and degrade that threat over time? Absolutely and I have examined my conscience and that’s what it is telling me.”

    you could hear a pin drop.

    MPs will make their own minds up & I feel sure that Labour MPs who do support him will not be doing so because he went to Eton .

  33. Morning
    As I actually live in the Oldham West & Royton Constituency I can vouch that if the Labour Party put a chimp with a red rose attached and wearing clogs they would almost certainly win the seat.
    Admittedly they won’t have the Michael Meacher effect this time round and Jim McMahon is certainly not very popular in certain areas because of various planning decisions it will certainly be interesting to see just how many votes the Conservatves and Ukip take from Labour this time round – By elections are strange events and you need look no further than the recent Heywood & Middleton By Election to see that!

  34. Speaking of Oldham, has there actually been any recent polling there? Is the London press just assuming it could be close because of the chaos in Labour or is there any actual evidence of the Labour vote dropping sufficiently to bring UKIP into play?

  35. Rumours that the French bombed a school in Mosul killing 28 children . The head Muslim in Cairo talks about French atrocities against Muslims.Unknown people in Mosul say it is all a fabrication.

  36. Thomas – Nope, there have been no Oldham polls ahead of the by-election. People are speculating solely based upon what they have heard from the campaigns, from people there and on “what they reckon”.

  37. COLIN
    I hope you were able to listen to Hilary Benn this morning – not anyone’s fool or first pick for veneer thin duplicity – stating the case for agreement on bombing, clarifying the Labour front bench’s abiliy to differ among themselves wthout dividing. In clarifying the position as this appeared to the front bench, he pointed out Jeremy Corbyn’s robustness and forensic care in mounting the effecive opposition to cuts in tax credits and policing. He implied, and I agree with him, that similar care has gone into the seven points JC raised with the PM yesterday, and the likelihood that Labour will permit a free vote on the Government’s proposal to take part in bombing in Syria.

  38. On the By-Election again – I think Labour would be very wise to not let Mr Corbyn anywhere near the said constituency before next Thursday.
    Mr Meacher had a very personal vote built up over 40 years and none of the candidates should be in the slightest bit presumptuous about the result. As in the next door constituency of Heywood & Middleton anything can happen especially in a by-election.

  39. I’ll be going up to Oldham on Sunday with the SLS lot, so will be able to report back a bit. I spoke to a Labour MP (who shall remain anonymous) last night who called it “a bit sticky” and said “going from a 14,000 majority to we’re going to lose the seat, it’s not great”.

  40. JOHN

    I did.

    It wasn’t me who suggested that supporters of Cameron’s case were swayed by rhetoric & his posh education-it was you.

    I am just glad that I don’t have to sit in Parliament & make this decision for my voters. I am certain that every on of our MPs is weighing up the arguments as best they can & thinking very very deeply about it before voting.

  41. Good morning all from central London.


    I also hear that a tsunami and earthquake have hit North East Fife tonight…………….in a political sense!
    .”.SNP hold 2 council seats. Turnout 24%”

    Well the turnout was poor as in every other council by-election so in that context and in the spirit of goodwill on UKPR I will meet you half way…A ripple and a tremor in North East Fife last night…will that suffice? ;-)

  42. What puzzles me is that when Russia go to bomb Syria, the establishment types (in both main parties) claim they are “spreading chaos” and that blowback could undermine support for the Putin.

    However, they take a different line when it is Britain or France doing it.

    I’m confused! ;)

  43. Another thing.

    When the ISIS carried out their appalling bombing of the Russian jet, the media reported this as a consequence of Russian action which could undermine support for action within Russia. Hmm.


    “I also hear that a tsunami and earthquake have hit North East Fife tonight…………….in a political sense!”

    Firstly, NE Fife did not have any elections last night. This is (was) a Lib Dem stronghold, Any tsunami here would not have shone any light on the SNP/LAB battlfront.

    West Fife, however, where the two elections did take place, is a different matter. Remember, that under the current system of local elections, it is possible to be defending seats where the incumbent party did NOT get the largest number of votes at the last election. I think you will find that is the case here. In both cases, SNP topped the poll, having not done so previously.

    THAT is your tsunami.

  45. @Thomas

    The only indicator for the Oldham by-election are the bookmakers’ odds.

    These show that it is definitely a two horse race between Labour and UKIP. Whilst Labour are very strong favourites, their price is drifting pretty much all the time, and UKIP are shortening.

    It looks like a Labour win, but not by much.


    It gets even more confusing. For well over a year the US led coalition bombed IS in Syria yet in all that time they never bombed a single oil refinery in IS controlled areas which is the mainstay of IS funding.

    Perhaps, just perhaps they didn’t want to upset Turkey who were buying oil from IS until the Russians put an end to it .

    Of course Russian blow back is unacceptable and always highlighted but our blow back in Libya, Iraq Afghanistan and soon to be Syria as ever will be swept under the carpet.

    Other News..
    According to RT the Russians have bombed a large arms supply from Turkey in Syria heading for the Turkish backed jihadists who murdered one of the Russian pilots.

    The Russians have also sent a 11;500 tone missile cruiser to the coast of Lattakia which has been ordered to destroy anything threatening Russian warplanes. According to Janes Military the Moskva missile cruiser is one of the most powerful surface combatants on the planet and is one of 3 Slava-class cruisers currently in operation with the Russian navy.

    They have also deployed the most advanced anti air defense system in the World which will cover most of Syria, Isreal and South East Turkey as well as the RAF base on Cyprus, the S-400 to their air base in Lattakia and from now on all Russian bombing missions over Syria will be accompanied by Su-30 fighter jets.

    Turkey shooting down the Russian bomber is a bit like Turkeys voting for Christmas….no pun intended.

    All the above I have mentioned might cast a doubt whether we send the RAF over Syria or not because what will the end game look like when IS are defeated and the Russian’s have set up a de facto no fly zone over a large part of Syria and refuse to back down over Assad?

    Get the popcorn out…its going to be fun.


    “I also hear that a tsunami and earthquake have hit North East Fife tonight…………….in a political sense!”
    Firstly, NE Fife did not have any elections last night. This is (was) a Lib Dem stronghold, Any tsunami here would not have shone any light on the SNP/LAB battlfront.
    West Fife, however, where the two elections did take place, is a different matter. Remember, that under the current system of local elections, it is possible to be defending seats where the incumbent party did NOT get the largest number of votes at the last election. I think you will find that is the case here. In both cases, SNP topped the poll, having not done so previously.
    THAT is your tsunam

    I think you have gotten our post mixed up. That was my post which you have quoted and my mistake it was indeed West Fife and not North East Fife and my geography can do with a brushing up.

    Amber responded to my comment further down and in my response to her I think you have confused my comment with hers.

    It happens… ;-)

  48. @ James Kay

    I didn’t bother correcting Alan Christie on exactly where the by-elections were held but I knew which wards were involved. Anyway, here’s the link to the BBC story:
    Which says: 2 SNP holds. Turnout 24%

    I’m happy to accept your assertion that the SNP have benefitted at the expense of LDs. Perhaps the erstwhile LD voters stayed at home.

    But surely turnout of 24% cannot be called “a tsunami” in any election.

1 2 3 4