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

    Sorry ignore my response to you. I’m the one getting confused because I read your response to Amber incorrectly.

    It happens…

  2. COLIN
    [I wasn’t me, Gov, who said: ]”Cameron’s case were swayed by rhetoric & his posh education-it was you.”

    Let me clarify in terms relevant to this polling blog. Some of my best friends are…………. Actually, I was not criticising his posh school or saying that voters or MPs would be swayed by posh origins or schoolin, but rather pointing out that his prose and the structure of his argument reflect a training in what the Romans and generations of the English public schools have in fact referred to as rhetoric.
    If you are good at it as Cicero, and have the accompanying grace and energy to stand up in public or in the HOC and make a speech of this quality, it is intended to persuade and it is effective in doing so.
    By contrast, Baroness Hollis’s and Molly Meachers’ speeches on tax credits in the HOL depended largely on a rigorous statement of fact.
    Jeremey Corbyn, I believe, is encouraging such a characteristic of Labour front bench statements in both houses. In his response to Cameron’s speech in the HOC he was spartan in his listing of areas where he considered the Opposition and the public needed to be informed on any engagement of British forces in Syria.
    The question of interest here is whether we might agree that the combination of reason and fact with public awareness, on tax credits and similarly on police numbers and financing, led to the Government’s U-turn.
    And would a similar presentation of the facts combine equally with an informed public opinion to oppose the recogisably strong rhetoric of Cameron’s argument on intervention,(equalled only by Dennis Skinner’s “Enemies to the left of them, enemies to the right of them – stay out!”). Such a response would recogniseit also to be short on facts, and so be opposed to it.

  3. On that last point, I was struck by Cameron’s repeated statement of his reliance on the best professional advice and opinion. That is, from the British and I assume French and US military and intelligence services.
    Their professional responsibility is, as we know, to summarise and concentrate the available information. It was this reliance which Rory Stewart evicerated in his equally outstanding speech in the Commons last year as Chairman of the Defense Committee, deploring the loss of the traditional excellence and locally and evidence based research intelligence of the British foreign service in the Middle East.

  4. On the effect of the Syria vote on the by-election in Oldham, it might be worth mentioning that Farage has come out against bombing.

  5. JOHN

    You didn’t need to clarify your post of 6.17 am-it was crystal clear.

    And this :

    “By contrast, Baroness Hollis’s and Molly Meachers’ speeches on tax credits in the HOL depended largely on a rigorous statement of fact.”

    merely confirms that you think Corbyn states “facts” whilst Cameron uses “rhetoric” & persuasive language ………..which “contrast” with those facts.

    I disagree.-and find this sort of reaction to an argument lost the antithesis of “democratic” debate.

    But the main reason that I find your suggestions so offensive is that-as already said- I expect & believe that EVERY MP is giving this deadly serious topic the deepest thought & consideration-not least Labour MPs.
    The suggestion that they are swayed by a “posh” Tory rhetoracist is an insult to all of of them.

  6. JOHN

    On your second post-you seem to be saying that we should not rely on the opinions of the UK, French & US Intelligence & Security community.

    You are of course entitled to that view-I presume the policy stance which flows from a combination of both this & an aversion to any military action overseas, is -wait for an attack to happen in UK and react with the appropriate number of ambulances.

    It is for Corbyn to make his case to his Shadow Cabinet & MPs John-and then , at some point in the future, to the UK electorate.

  7. There is no such word as Rhetoracist !!!

    The appropriate word is Rhetorician :-)

  8. @Hawthorn

    “On the effect of the Syria vote on the by-election in Oldham, it might be worth mentioning that Farage has come out against bombing”

    Farage wants the Corbynite vote: on many issues ranging from defence to EU you cant put a cigarette paper between them. Plus of course their mutually identical [email protected] method of the personality cult. Lots in common.

    Worst case scenario now for Corbyn-and-[his allies] is a wafer thin Jim victory- where he addresses head on the shambles and vote losing performances of the leadership since day 1 in his acceptance speech. Plus he is a centre right MP replacing an old left MP.

    Corbynites clearly would prefer a defeat: as then they can claim it is “back stabbing MPs wot dunnit” or “you see- a centre right candidate and they lost a safe seat: we need purity and principle not imperialism and red Toryism” blah blah boring ridiculous blah.


  9. Some people I know in Labour First (in Oldham in force last few days- and this weekend) are saying the far left are going to be voting UKIP in the long tradition of utilising ‘useless idiots” i..e ‘when you offer people Tory-lite/ right-wing-lite they will vote for the real thing: we need true socialism” etc etc etc

  10. Bloody iphone :-)

    “UseFULL idiots” (as Lenin once described).


    “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 the elections were in West Fife, not Fife NE. Perhaps the erstwhile Labour viters stayed at home!

  12. Is there any way to measure whether someone who ‘disagrees’ with a policy (like bombing Syria for example) is responding to the actual policy rather than voting for or against the politician or party espousing the policy?
    Is this distinction meaningless?

  13. The pro-SNP swings in the two by elections – 15.3% and 11.3% – were quite a bit lower than at earlier by elections in the immediate aftermath of the General Election. I recall swings of 20 – 25%.

  14. @Col.

    Claiming offence is historically a great way of getting AW to intervene if you don’t like where a debate is heading!!

    Not that you’d use rhetoric like that or anything!!

    As per, I am staying out of the Syria debate, just thought I’d suggest it’d be good to stop heating things up. As for claiming the noblest of intentions for our politicians, it’s a lovely dream, but peeps possibly haven’t forgotten dodgy dossiers and related stuff just yet.

    Anyways, as you were. I’m enjoying very much following the debate while doing a bit of bargain hoovering on Black Friday. Some very good techie deals!!

  15. @Carfrew,

    But where will you store them, and how will you afford the tax?


    “Is there any way to measure whether someone who ‘disagrees’ with a policy (like bombing Syria for example) is responding to the actual policy rather than voting for or against the politician or party espousing the policy?
    Is this distinction meaningless?”


    AW has commented on this sorta thing before, and it’s interesting stuff. They invent fictitious policies and see how peeps vote depending on which party supposedly proposes it. And yep, you can see peeps changing according to which party backs it.

    But of course some policies get rejected by voters regardless of party, hence u-turns at times. (Although some u turns may be due to MPs against, or circumstances lining up to make summat impossible).

    I therefore don’t think it’s a meaningless distinction, and what’s interesting is the EXTENT to which party support will persuade peeps to accept a policy. Coz clearly there’s an effect, but it’s not overwhelming…

    AW prolly has rather more of the scoop on the matter. Just thought I’d show some support for your query…


    That effect definitely seems to be apply to lots of people who are members of political parties!

  18. Syria certainly appears to be a quagmire , but I don’t see how UK intervention would have the effect of making us more of a target – we already are if only by our action against ISIL in Iraq.

  19. @Neil

    “But where will you store them, and how will you afford the tax?”


    Do you mean store the politicians or the techie deals?

    The techie deals are mostly apps and other software, so they don’t require much storage space at all. Software can be a great way of avoiding buying physical hardware. A godsend for guitar amps, for eggers. The software models now are really good and a tiny fraction of the price of buying the amps themselves and you can make your own models!!**

    City living requires I get creative with my purchases and minimise knock-on costs…

    **regarding modelling, all you have to do is try imagine that you actually care about being able to fashion your own amp models and you can see why this might actually be a good thing. As opposed to trying to find space for 100 watt stacks and not waking up the street with the racket…

  20. @ James Kay

    I was simply having a bit of banter with Allan Christie about his use of the word “tsunami” for a couple of low turnout, council by-election holds. I’m happy to accept whatever it is you think they’re saying.

  21. @Hawthorn

    “That effect definitely seems to be apply to lots of people who are members of political parties!”


    Do you mean which policies they support, or the techie deals thing?

    But yeah, it’s part of the reason I don’t vote. I don’t wanna poison my own well, so to speak.

    (As an aside, I do think these u turns are a very poor show for non-voters like me. How are we supposed to be clear on who not to vote for if the keep changing things?)

  22. GRAHAM

    The difference is this:

    If we bomb Syria and we get hit by terrorists, it will be completely the fault of the terrorists acting in a way unrelated to that action.

    If we don’t bomb Syria and we get hit by terrorists, it will be the fault of wishy-washy, hippy peaceniks and the terrorists that they support.

  23. In fact, if you argue that ISIS terrorism is unrelated to western policy, then how can you argue that a change in policy will make any difference?

    Oh dear, I am letting logic come into this!

  24. Thank you CARFREW

  25. Hmm, not sure I follow the logic, Hawthorn.

    If on 1st January 2016 Mr Mohammed al-Terrorist will be travelling from Raqqa to London via Greece, and on 1st February 2016 Mr Mohammed al-Terrorist will be strolling around Leicester Square with an AK47 killing tourists, then logically if on 1st December 2015 if a Tornado happened to vaporize the Toyota pickup carrying Mohammed al-Terrorist to his Explosive Vests for Beginners course at a farm outside Raqqa then surely bombing in Syria would have directly prevented terrorism in the UK?

    Not saying that this is likely (not saying it’s unlikely either), just exploring the logical premise.

  26. [Come on! Was that pasted from a SNP lines to take? Comments policy please – AW]

  27. Meanwhile the Fire Brigade’s Union has voted to reaffiliate with Labour. This will bolster Corbyn – he certainly seems to have the support of the Labour movement.

  28. Neil A

    I was taking the mickey out of the double-think used by governments in these situations.

    To use an example, if the government carried out an action that led to a reprisal terrorist attack, then it would be considered to be “unacceptable” to point out that the action was part of the causal chain that caused that event.

    However, if the government were prevented from doing so and there was a terrorist attack by Mr al-Terrorist, I suspect that Mr Corbyn would end up getting the blame.

    In your worked example, what if Mr al-Terrorist ended up actually being Mr al-Freedomlover, and Mrs al-Freedomlover and their young children were blown up with him. Would this help or hinder the ISIS cause?

  29. Could someone please explain the position – oppose attacking Daesh in Syria, but go on attacking Daesh in Iraq.
    Surely you either:
    – attack both (commencing in Syria in addition to already attacking in Iraq);
    – or neither (so you don’t attack in Syria and stop attacking Daesh in Iraq).
    I am genuinely perplexed by those supporting one but opposing the other and I’m not trying to make a party political point with any party in asking this and I’m sure I can’t be the only member of the electorate who fails to see the distinction.

  30. @Hawthorn,

    Errors are a fact of military life. You can’t really legislate for infallibility. However, unless there is evidence that a military organization is particularly reckless or incompetent, it’s hard to see how this can be factored into policy decisions. If Corbyn believes he can’t allow the RAF to bomb anything because they can’t tell the difference between combatants and civilians, he may as well go the whole hog and abolish the RAF. After all, UK police officers responding to a Paris-style attack might shoot the wrong person (they have form, after all) so let’s disarm the police and respond to such attacks by sending civilian mediators to discuss the attackers’ grievances with them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not strongly advocating that one side is right and the other wrong. It’s the quality of the argument that I’m interested in.

  31. @Jonathan,

    The difference is international law.

    We are bombing Daesh in Iraq at the specific request of the internationally recognized government, which is universally accepted to be legal.

    In Syria, we’d be doing it without explicit authority from the government (not because they don’t want us to, but because we can’t/won’t cooperate with them because of their own atrocities). Hence we’re in more tenuous legal territory – although not anything we haven’t done before.

  32. Jonathan
    I believe the thinking is that we were theoretically invited to help by the Iraqi government, but have not been invited by Assad.

  33. Neil A

    The point is that ISIS are not stupid. They are not going running around the desert with large targets on their backs.

    Even sensible stuff like blowing up their oil supply lines would be difficult as civilians will need winter fuel oil.

    I really cannot see any practical option that does not involve helping Assad in the West and the Kurds in the North East. There would then need to be a new carve-up of territory with the Kurds taking over Kurdish Syria and Iraq.

    There needs to be a difficult period of political preparation (for which the UN would be the ideal body to coordinate) to decide what desired, possible outcome can be achieved. Then, there needs to be a well though military strategy to eliminate ISIS.

  34. @AW

    Actually I watched the whole debate and that was my understanding of it. If it was SNP lines to take then they have been very effective at getting their message across.

  35. For a third time, can we not get into a debate about what should be done in Syria, or why you personally think Cameron/Corbyn is right/wrong, or explaining what you think Cameron/Corbyn’s position is in obviously slanted language. Stick to discussing broad public attitudes about it, as evidenced by opinion polling.

    Tired of asking nicely now, anyone ignoring this message can go on pre-moderation. If other people can tell what your views are on intervention from your comment, then it’s inappropriate here.

  36. AW

    Apologies, but it is quite difficult not to stray across, particularly when public opinion seems to be one of the criteria for action.

  37. @AW apologies, our posts crossed. Feel free to delete mine (not that you need my permission).

  38. AW

    Do you know if there is any public polling due on whether the public back the specific cases put forward by Cameron or Corbyn?

    Surely whether the plan will work has to be a key question in the public mind. It is quite possible for a member of the public to be in favour of bombing in principle, but not be convinced of Cameron’s plan. This should not imply support for Corbyn’s position.

    Like so much of all this, it is a lot more complicated than a bomb/don’t bomb call.

  39. In terms of polling it seems that there are two ways of looking at it.

    Corbyn and his circle prefer to see it as them being on the right side of the argument, so far as the opinion of Labour members is concerned.

    The rebels, for want of a better word, prefer to see it as them being on the right side of the argument, so far as the opinion of the UK public is concerned.

    Both arguments have some merit – the first in terms of democratic accountability, the second in terms of electability. It does seem to me that Corbyn is a strange figurehead for putting the views of the party first, having refused point black to accept those views (when they didn’t accord with his own) for decades.

  40. *point blank

  41. Neil A

    If Corbyn were a cynic, he should oppose, be over-ruled, it all go horribly wrong (quite likely whether we bomb or not) and then become a Charles Kennedy style soothsayer.

  42. You mean, put it to a vote of the Shadow Cabinet and then reluctantly vote whichever way they decide?

  43. NEILA

    @”Both arguments have some merit – the first in terms of democratic accountability, the second in terms of electability. ”

    Actually they both claim democratic legitimacy -and rightly.

    Its just that they are different electorates.

    On DP today PK was pointing up the problems of political parties responding to a shrinking core of activist party members-a narrowing of opinion to the absolutely committed-whilst millions in the wider Electorate feel more & more unconnected to political parties.

    Yes the Labour Party has seen a recent increase in Membership , but compared with decades ago it

    PK said that as Voters are becoming disengaged across all parties in Europe, Activists & Zealots become more engaged .

    Its not just a problem for The Labour Party & its MPs.

  44. Neil A

    Allow a free vote.

    I suspect that whoever wins the vote will lose public opinion in the longer term as both options presented are poor options with big downside risks.

  45. I didn’t say democratic legitimacy, I said accountability. In other words, if you’re there in a Labour rosette, you should do what Labour says. Electorates vote for parties (or at least generally for people standing on the platform of a party).

    As I say Corbyn is hardly an exemplar. Poacher turned gamekeeper?

  46. @Hawthorn,

    I think the great tragedy for Labour is that actually this vote is a bit of a non-issue. whether you think our jets will do something good, or do something bad, there’s no getting away from the fact that they won’t do very much of it. There’s no way the outcome of Syria is going to fall on the head of any UK politician or party. In UK political terms the only real fallout from any of this is to expose and widen cracks in the PLP. I have sympathy for Corbyn. I agree that a free vote was probably the least damaging way out for him, and that being the case he should have reached for it straight away. But even an “agree to disagree” division in a party is seen as a weakness by the chatterati and the electorate (look at the glee with which the left look at the prospect of Tories dividing into two camps over the EU referendum). It was just an awful time for Corbyn to be blighted by what is ultimately a marginal issue, for which there was no right answer.

  47. A Mirror poll on attitudes to bombing is to be released at 6.30. It is being trailed by Kevin McGuire so I imagine that it’s results will be somewhat different to YouGov’s.

  48. Hawthorn, there was a question in the Yougov poll about whether people think airstrikes would be effective. Beyond that I suspect there is little worth asking… most people will not be aware of the detailed proposals, and if you tell them the poll becomes too dependent on how convincing the pollster had made a plan sound. Essentially we mustn’t make our respondents better informed than the public we want them to represent!

  49. NEILA

    You said :-

    “The rebels, for want of a better word, prefer to see it as them being on the right side of the argument, so far as the opinion of the UK public is concerned…………..
    Both arguments have some merit – the first in terms of democratic accountability, the second in terms of electability.”

    I was pointing out that the “rebels” are claiming ( and more volubly by the day) a democratic Mandate-and they are correct to do so

  50. “Survation/Mirror finds 48-30 favour airstrikes in Syria: 59% of men/38% of women. ” via Gerry Hassan.

1 2 3 4