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. Colin

    According to the Mirror poll, most favour ground troops. Should that mandate be followed? (Rhetorical question).

  2. @AW

    “Essentially we mustn’t make our respondents better informed than the public we want them to represent!”


    To just ask the question may make them better informed. They may not have hitherto given the matter much consideration, in some cases may not have even known of the issue, and may then go on to research it.

    You may not want to make them better informed, but equally want to avoid misleading or misinforming via the questions. Or giving false choices. Eg the difference between bombing one entity versus another.

    You had another false choice for example in the Yougov question on the deficit.

  3. There’s some interesting stuff when you look into the detail of this poll. For instance, 50% do not trust Corbyn at all to make the right decisions regarding Syria and ISIS, whereas 39% do not trust Putin at all.
    Quite startling!

  4. FPT

    RMJ1 – “It has been something of a mystery, for some little while, why tax receipts have not kept pace with the recovery and increased employment.”

    It’s to do with the personal tax free allowance increasing so sharply. It was £6475 in May 2010 and is now £10600 – an increase of £4125 – it’s gone up by 64% in five years.

    In order to be revenue neutral, the average wage needs to have increased by about £4000 as well, but it hasn’t. The average full time income is actually down since 2012 by £164. We won’t get a surge of tax receipts till wages start to power ahead. But when that will happen is anyone’s guess. A healthy eurozone would help as it would reduce the inward flow of labour, but that looks unlikely in the near future.

  5. Suspect the issue over Syria is being used by certain elements within the Shadow Cabinet to mount a coup against the elected leader. Doesn’t at the moment seem they have much support in the Labour Party.

  6. Survation? ?Chief Executive? Damian Lyons Lowe said:? “Extending airstrikes ?‘?now?‘? against IS to Syria – in addition to the UK’s current Iraq involvement – was backed by 48% to 30% in today’s poll, however the public remain cautious on the UK’s role in the region in response to recent atrocities.

    “Forty nine-per-cent to 29% of the public want diplomatic and non-military solutions to be pursued before committing the UK further than Cameron’s plan for Syrian air strikes.

    “The public are clearly against putting British boots on the ground ‘now’ by two to one, although supported British ground force involvement ‘if necessary at some point in the future’ by a small margin.

    “?More than one quarter of those polled feel the UK should pull out of military involvement in the Middle East completely and more than three to one agreed that ‘British air strikes against IS in Syria would increase the risk of a terror attack here in the UK’.

    ?”T?he Prime Minister clearly has work to do in convincing the public that this, and any future intervention would make the UK a safer place.”

  7. On the Syria thing, I notice France has made a formal request for our help, which changes things. As we’re allies, we are committed. If your friends ask for help you have to provide it, because otherwise hurt feelings resulting in them not helping us when we need it. (And we’re currently depending on the French to track a Russian sub in Scottish waters because we don’t have the equipment!).

    I’m amazed the Germans haven’t seen that and offered something as well – it will come to bite them when Merkel tries to impose her views on the EU and a hitherto silent France decides to clip her wings. If we do help Hollande, it might even make it easier to get France on board for the EU renegotiation on things like Freedom of Movement – especially as they ended up paying the price for lax govt in Belgium.

  8. Why does the Labour Party not say ‘we back the use of air power but only in the support of ground troops and as part of an agreed transition plan’? It would then be up to Cameron to show that the conditions for this had been realistically met.

    This is the same formula as the French want to use in relation to involving the Syrian army, distances us from trying to kill children and as far as I know commits us to something we are supposed to be good at.

    Electorally it might avoid the impression that Corbyn is against war in all circumstances, and would pick up people’s desire to punish ISIS, avoid reinforcing Assad, and avoid committing our own troops. It might even look like a policy, even though in practice I doubt whether anything we do will make us more or less safe or the Syrians more or less in a terrible case,

  9. @AW

    To add to the matter, polling can be used to leverage insufficient understanding to create headlines that are not exactly politically neutral.

    Thus, if peeps aren’t aware the bombing was for different purposes in each case, then by not making clear this difference in the question, the polling results can be used to attack a party unfairly, in this case Labour.

    You do use clarifications in some questions. On what basis do you decide whether to add info or not? I suppose we might observe the patterns over time….

  10. Candy
    The Jerries have offered their Tornado reconnaissance planes.


    Absolutely-but not by “us”.

    It will need an army to take & hold their territory & negate the claims about a “Caliphate” which attracts so many young zealots.

    I have doubts about the various elements of DC’s 70,000. Can they actually be mobilised together under one command -etc etc etc.

    But I’m not in a position to make judgments about this.


    @”This is the same formula as the French want to use in relation to involving the Syrian army, ”

    With one massive caveat-THE stumbling block to bringing all the pieces together:-

    Putin is going to have to do a U-turn on Assad in order to close this gap.

  13. “Francois Hollande, the French President, has urged Labour MPs to support military intervention in Syria this week in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
    The French President thanked Britain for the support it has shown his country following the atrocity and said he hoped that Parliament would now back the case for air strikes put forward by David Cameron.”


  14. @ Colin

    I’ve heard that the French diplomatic team has been directly contacting (some? all?) Labour MPs.

  15. AMBER

    That is quite something isn’t it?

    Spellar & MacTaggart have been quite open tonight according to reports. Even Paul Flynn is reported as saying “this can’t go on”.

    I must say he seems to have a point.

  16. Amber-I was tempted to wonder which approach Labour MPs would find most appealing-French diplomats-or the Heavies from Momentum. ?

    That Monday meeting is going get headline tv coverage !

  17. @ Colin

    I think it is okay for everybody to contact MPs.

    French diplomats, the Labour leader, activists, party members, constituents etc. I have nothing against Momentum urging people to contact their MP either.

    What puzzles me is: the Tories have a majority of 12, the DUP has promised 8 votes & the Shinners don’t take their seats… so why does David Cameron need Labour votes?

  18. @Colin

    I agree that this is the massive caveat. Nevertheless I think this would be (marginally) the best thing to do (least worst option) electorally (for the Labour party), nationally (for all of us) and internationally.

  19. COLIN
    I thought, in view of your comments on my concern for the quality of information on which to form a view on Cameron’s or Corbyn’s positions on UK partipation in the bombing of ISIS in Syria, that I ought to consult some of our senior opinion formers, so listened in to Sam Oakes, Deputy Political Editor of The Times on BBC News and looked up his article on the subject which he had plugged on the programme.
    I must say, I think he has a very shaky idea of both decision making in the Shadow Cabinet, which Hilary Benn had explained with great clarity on the Beeb earlier, and of what it happening in Syria and the nature of ISIS. I commend his article in tommow’s paper, however, for a good insight on how the opinion ot its readers is formed and on how International News performs as the champion of democracy and freedom of information.

  20. And I’ve just read that Downing Street will be directly contacting Labour MPs too.

  21. AMBER

    I agree-its a free country :-)

    I seem to remember DC saying he wanted to be absolutely certain & to try & demonstrate a good degree of cross party unanimity.


    Senior Labour Party members seeking legal confirmation that Corbyn would need renomination if they launched a leadership challege.

    I’m baffled. The only reason you’d have to exclude his nomination is because you’re worried you’ll lose. But if you were to lose to him, do you really think the party would accept you because you knocked out their favoured candidate on a technicality? This would be the sort of ill-thought move that would risk a Labour/SDP style split.

    Interesting times.

  23. @Neil A
    ‘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’

    Absolutely correct – it’s little more than tokenism. We are already attacking ISIS targets in Iraq , yet we hear almost nothing about such operations.

  24. Not that verifiable truth has ever had much influence on trivial matters, like killing people, but this analysis of the Russian & Turkish stories about the downed Russian jet, suggests that any accurate analysis of the Turkish and Russian versions would fail Anthony’s moderation guidelines.

  25. Unless Corbyn steps down of his own accord a challenge cannot be mounted anyway until next Autumn.

  26. @Oldnat,

    Sounds about right. Turks gilding the lily (polishing a t***?)and the Russians simply lying through their teeth as normal.

  27. Neil A

    Interesting use of language by you.

    I would have thought that there is a lot of evidence that “lying through their teeth” is normal practice for ‘Defence’ Ministries everywhere (though perhaps less so in countries where their Defence Ministries actually concentrate on defence, as opposed to attacking other countries).

  28. @candy

    I agree the direct request from Hollande is huge. I mean this is not just any ally, it’s France.

  29. The e-mail that Corbyn sent to members is Corbyn coming out fighting. The Shadow Cabinet, most of the PLP and the MSM in one side Corbin & the members on the other.

    He is going nowhere willingly

    I agree with Amber the MSM focussing how Labour will vote is nonsense the Tories have a majority so why aren’t they asking why Cameron can’t get his own MPs on board?

    On the poll looks like now people have had some arguments put forward support for bombing is falling.

  30. Survation have published the tables for their poll –

    Somewhat oddly, they have included the 23 respondents from NI as a separate crossbreak, while combining the Welsh with the English Midlands, and Scotland with the English North.

  31. @ Couper 2802

    The Shadow Cabinet, most of the PLP and the MSM in one side Corbin & the members on the other.

    As far as I’m aware: Shadow Cabinet was 4 speaking for (with caveats!), 4 speaking against, all others (including Andy Burnham) were unconvinced by David Cameron & want to give it further consideration.

    That said, the French diplomats, speaking on behalf of President Hollande, will likely be given a lot of weight by MPs. Labour’s feelings for the French Socialist Party run pretty deep.

  32. AMBER
    “Why does Cameron need Labour votes?”
    He doesn’t. His explanation of the procedure he was adopting, including obtaining the support of Parliament through a debate and a vote, was that he recognised that he had to make a case for intervention.
    It is legitimate to ask why he had to do so, when it has been argued that the Government already has that power under international law and its electoral mandate.
    One explanation is that he and the Government were not prepared to risk the adverse consequences of armed intervention, including mission creep, collateral deaths of civilians, and a wider conflagration, but also the political consequences to them and the Conservative Party of any consequences of making that decision without multi-party support including that of the Labour Party.

    I was interested in the background of John Spellar, who seems to be the ring-leader of the Corby must go campaign reported in the Times, and Birmingham Mail etc on the basis of his Radio 5 interview.
    He might be expected both to oppose Corbyn as leader, and to opposed specifically Corbyn’s position on armed intervention in Syria, as Tony Blair’s Minister of State for Defence, and as a member of the advisory board of the Henry Jackson Society,, one of the constitutional clauses is that the Society:
    “Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach, that can protect our homelands from strategic threats, forestall terrorist attacks, and prevent genocide or massive ethnic cleansing.”
    Legitimate aims, but not I should have thought those of the Labour Party since Iraq and Libya.

  33. @Top Hat
    “Senior Labour Party members seeking legal confirmation that Corbyn would need renomination if they launched a leadership challenge.
    I’m baffled.”
    So am I. An organization seeking to run the country hasn’t got clear rules for electing its own leader?

  34. John Pilgrim

    One might legitimately question whether arming the Saudi war on Yemen meets the stated views of the Henry Jackson Society (I’m quite sure that it meets their actual intent).

    There does seem to be concern that the UK could be prosecuted for its role.

  35. Regardless of the complications and legalities (which I am in no way qualified to comment on) of changing the Labour leader, is this the earliest in a Labour leadership when the possibility of changing the leader has been seriously mooted?

  36. @ Dave

    An organization seeking to run the country hasn’t got clear rules for electing its own leader?

    It has got clear rules.

  37. @ Pete B

    …is this the earliest in a Labour leadership when the possibility of changing the leader has been seriously mooted?

    It hasn’t been seriously mooted.

  38. Amber
    How about John Spellar? He’s my MP, and a fairly serious player I thought?

  39. Amber

    Having read the article by the barrister in the New Statesman re Labour’s leader election rules –

    – describing them as “clear” may be a little exaggerated. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to suggest that the rule drafters never anticipated a situation like this.

    Despite that, his conclusion that “the rules are plainly not perfectly drafted. But Courts are well used to taking a muscular approach to the interpretation of poorly drafted rules” and his preceding arguments that the plotters are on a hiding to nothing, seem well argued.

  40. @ Old Nat

    Maybe I should have said perfectly clear to me. At my first reading I reached the conclusion that the incumbent isn’t a challenger & therefore doesn’t actually need any nominations.

  41. Dave –

    It’s a very technical query over the Labour party rules. Essentially they aren’t drafted particularly well. It’s very clear what the rules are to nominate a candidate if the leadership falls vacant. It’s also very clear what the rules are to trigger a fresh leadership election when there is a sitting leader.

    The question is whether, if there is a challenge to a sitting leader, the sitting leader then needs to be nominated, or the sitting leader is automatically part of the contest. My reading of the rules (and I’m not a lawyer) is that the leader will automatically be included – the rules refer to a challenger, which obviously implies he or she is challenging someone, and the fact that there are no rules requiring the sitting leader to get nominations suggests they don’t need to. Other people though have argued that because it’s sloppily drafted, under a strict reading of the rules the nomination rules would also require the sitting leader to be nominated. If it came to a legal challenge, who knows what a court might decide.

    Anyway, it’s understandable how Labour got to the position, if their rules had worked as designed we wouldn’t be where we are! It’s only being discussed because we may be in a position where Labour are in a position where they have a sitting leader who has so little support amongst the Parliamentary Party that they couldn’t even get nominated. The purpose of the Labour party rules is to prevent this thing happening – the initial nomination stage of the contest is there so a candidate needs a minimum amount of Parliamentary support in order to even run as a candidate. A lot of Labour MPs however clearly saw that as an unnecessary bureaucratic hoop to leap through and leant their nominations to Corbyn so he could get round it, rather than something that served a serious purpose. Such is life.

  42. @ Pete B

    John Spellar isn’t, I think, planning to challenge or seeking support for a specific challenger. To me it will be serious when there’s a named challenger.

  43. @ Anthony Wells

    Keep in mind that lawyers think everything is ‘sloppily drafted’.

    I have had times when I’ve gone to corporate lawyers for an interpretation & been told that the document is ‘sloppily drafted’. There have been a fair few occasions when I’ve replied: “Really? Well, it was you that drafted it.”

  44. Amber

    The intent of the rules seemed pretty clear to me too but, no doubt, we have both come across fellow party members who like to seek loopholes, during our varied political activities!

    Can you or someone else) clarify what Labour procedures would be, if someone were to mount a challenge to Corbyn?

    ie Who would interpret the rules, and specify the rules in the race? (granted that one side or the other could subsequently mount a legal challenge to them)

    Would it be the NEC? If so, I presume the political balance on it might be of some significance.

  45. Amber
    “To me it will be serious when there’s a named challenger.”

    I get the impression (no more than that) that it could be Hilary Benn, at least as an interim leader. I suppose there won’t be a named challenger until an election is called?

  46. I did think Corbyn would be a mistake to choose as a leader but my goodness do Labour MPs have no sense?They are destroying the Labour Party. Cameron has a majority, have a 3 line whip and follow it, it will make no difference to the outcome.

    The impression is that the plotters are seizing the opportunity of the Syria vote to undermine Corbyn, instead Labour could be putting forward a pretty strong anti-war case and putting Cameron into some difficulty.

  47. @ Pete B

    An election, when Labour is in opposition, is triggered by a challenger(s) obtaining supporting nominations from 20% of the PLP.

  48. What do the plotters think the 60% of people who voted for Corbyn are going to do if he is deposed? Shrug and say ‘Oh well Blairite, neo-liberals it is’?

    More probable they will never support or vote Labour again and they will likely go to the Greens. Deposing Corbyn will do for UK Labour, what Better Together did to Scottish Labour….. so think on plotters

  49. @ Old Nat

    Interpretation is by the NEC but if the membership doesn’t support the NEC’s decision, the decision can be challenged at conference where it will go to a vote.

    The election itself is subject to independent oversight.

  50. Amber


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