YouGov and the Times have some fresh Syria polling tonight, conducted on Monday evening and during the day on Tuesday. It shows a sharp drop in support for airstrikes since YouGov’s polling a week ago, but the overall balance of opinion is still in favour: 48% now support RAF airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, 31% are opposed. A week ago the figures were 59% to 20%.

Some of this may be the fading impact of the Paris attacks, some people recoiling from the reality of intervention. I suspect a lot is also partisan polarisation: there is little movement amongst Conservative voters, but there is a huge turnaround amongst Labour voters. Whereas a week ago 2015 Labour voters broke in favour of airstrikes by 52% to 26%, they have now turned against. Among 2015 Labour voters 42% are now opposed (up 16 points), only 35% now support (down 17). While Jeremy Corbyn’s stance is still at odds with wider public opinion, now both Labour voters and Labour members agree with him: it is his opponents within the PLP who are at odds with the rest of the Labour family.

But if public opinion is moving against intervention, there’s not a sign of it helping Jeremy Corbyn with the wider public, or hurting Conservative support. Corbyn’s own ratings are down – 24% of people now think he is doing well as leader, down from 30% last week; 65% think he is doing badly. Voting intention figures are CON 41%, LAB 30%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%.

Peter Kellner’s commentary for the Times is up here.

328 Responses to “Syria polling update”

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  1. @AC

    Same, I know I was against Corbyn but the bullying nastiness of the Tories, the MSM and some in his own party makes me glad he won. And I have nothing against Corbyn’s views I agree with most of them I just didn’t think he could beat the Tories but with the Tory vote halved maybe I’m wrong.

  2. Looks like the most toxic leader of a political party is Farage by a mile! :-)

    Surely he has to un-un-resign now?

  3. Matt Singh tweeted:

    To those questioning my previous comments – in the first five by-elections under Ed Miliband, the Labour vote share was up 8.9 points on ave

    But I think that ignores the fact that the Lib Dem vote had collapsed during that time and UKIP hadn’t yet started their rise. When you consider that you are looking at changes since this May (when the Labour vote went up 9 points in this constituency), then a further increase looks more impressive. A better comparison might be with by-elections later in the parliament such as Rotherham or Heywood, in both of which the Labour vote was static.

    UKIP’s only very modest gain was surprising but illustrates something I have been pointing to for years. They seem to have a natural ceiling in the high 20s (varying from area to area) that they find very easy to get near but very hard to get past. If anything that ceiling seems to have lowered, despite this looking like good territory for them and us having been assured of this by numerous experts. That said UKIP seem to be rubbish at by-elections anyway (they very rarely gain seats in local ones).

  4. As leftist journo Paul Mason graciously (and accurately) Tweeted “McMahon v serious new lab centrist figure” and “McMahon = pragmatic, ‘blue Labour’ council leader, addicted to what works. Idea that Corbyn could boost or destroy him, always risible”

    As George Eaton tweeted “Corbyns office signed off leaflets and a campaign plan that deliberately sidelined him”…..after only 2 months in charge; and in one of our safer seats we won with 14000 vote majority in May!!

    This result has anything to do with Corbyn in so much as he was absented.

    It’s a great result and JM is an effective addition to Labours PLP centre right ranks.

    But if we ever start winning by-elections where we were NOT the holding party and in the south outside of inner London or in the east and West Midlands story marginals…then it’s time to start speculating about Corbyn-the-potential-PM. Utterly ludicrous to do that tonight!!!


    Average of November polls a 9 point CON lead over a flatlining at 30 LAB

  5. @Rob Sheffield

    I heard that the new MP, Mr McMahon, voted for Liz Kendall in the leadership contest. So I guess the Kendalites are feeling good too!

  6. @ Couper and RAF

    ‘This should give Corbyn extra authority and does make me wonder how well Corbyn would be doing if he had the PLP behind him.’

    Extraordinary demand from Tristam Hunt on Chanel 4 news, that Corbyn disassociate from/ disbands Momentum because it is a ‘party in a party’. Extraordinary because everything TH said was also true of Progress, and TH is one of its leading lights. Do you think this was a mental lapse, an irony by-pass or another attempt to undermine Corbyn?

  7. So.

    Oldham result in and another massive failure for the polls, the media and of course UKIP.

    We shall see what happens when the actual electorate get to actually vote instead of “right-thinking” commentators speculating on how unpopular Labour and Corbyn are.

  8. UKIP look like they will never make the breakthrough they were hoping for. So where will protest votes go next? Does this mean Labour is now the party of protest votes?

    A couple more byelections should make things a bit clear: I’m not sure the result last night has done anything except hammer the nails into UKIP.

  9. This is undoubtedly a very good result for Labour, and a poor one for everyone else, with the exception perhaps of the Lib Dems who at least comfortably out-polled the Greens, and got into four figures!

    Big boost for Corbyn, who was struggling for air, but has now had a lot of pressure removed.

  10. It’s sad how the so called independent journalists and pollsters have become so much cheerleaders for received opinion. They all agree and polls and anecdote prove that UKIP would run Labour close in Oldham, that everybody is pro-bombing and basically the polls set out and are interpreted to “prove” those things.

    Pity about the actual outcome of Oldham and Royston. But that will soon be twisted to fit the narrative.

    Until the next actual visits to the real polls.

  11. Biggest offender has been the previously neutral BBC. They’re local reports have been proved spectacularly wrong. So either they (like the polling companies) always ask the same flawed sample of people or they ignore the evidence that doesn’t support the narrative.

    UKIP were nowhere near Labour. But that’s not what you (all) said was happening, was it?

  12. they’re=their

  13. SYZYGY

    Personally, I would get rid of both Momentum and Progress as having these groups at each end if the party is divisive and uncomradely.

    As for Oldham…well well well!

  14. @Rob Sheffield

    Did the other parties in Oldham sideline Corbyn too?

  15. Good result for Labour and for Corbyn. However I suspect that the Tories will be quietly satisfied with a result which keeps Corbyn as leader for Labour. I am sure their dearest wish is that Corbyn is still Labour leader in 2020.

  16. @NickP,

    I’m not sure it’s a failure for the polls, as there weren’t any in Oldham West.

    Unless you’re suggesting that a decent performance in a by-election is a better indication of national VI than opinion polls are, in which case I’d refer you to any one of the 1,000,000 times AW has pointed out that this isn’t the case.

    It certainly points to a failure of political temperature reading by journalists, although to some extent that is probably them buying into the expectation management of the various parties (and factions within those parties).

    In absolute terms this is a reassuring and workmanlike result for Labour. It is only in relative terms – relative to some of the more hyperbolic commentary – that it is a fantastic win.

    UKIP certainly didn’t make any impact, but then they’ve not been doing very well nationally (standing still at best in the polls, and getting either no publicity or bad publicity in the media).

    I also think Oldham West’s demographics make it a difficult case to use as a barometer for national opinion on issues like Syria. It seems likely that Labour’s good performance was contributed to by a very healthy turnout, both postal and at the polls, by Oldham’s large muslim community.

    Having said all of that, still an unambiguous “win” for Labour and Corbyn, and McMahon does seem like an excellent politician to have on board.

  17. Farage’s mask truly slipped on Today this morning. Not just bad loser but cynical analysis of Asian voting preferences as well as supposed postal voting irregularities.

    Even if you take the whole of the 7000 or so postal votes out of the result and then redistribute them on the basis of the votes made through the ballot box, it still gives Labour nearly a 7000 majority!

    UKIP is becoming a dead party walking. The EU referendum will be the final nail in the coffin for them, whatever the result.

  18. Morning everyone,

    As a Conservative living in the Oldham West & Royton Constituency I must congratulate Jim McMahon on his convincing win which has everything to do with Jim McMahon and NOT Jeremy Corbyn I can assure you!
    Very popular (in some quarters) young energetic Labour Leader of Oldham MBC with some difficult decisions to make.
    The main gripe with myself is the whole issue of Postal Voting.

    I wonder why Labour do their damnedest to get people to use a postal vote rather than the proper democratic British way of casting your vote in getting off your backside and walking to your voting station to put your X on the ballot paper?

    I also wonder how many of the postal votes were of Asian voters where their women folk are virtually told where to put their X – controversial subject maybe but I think it seriously needs addressing.

    I am in favour of banning postal votes apart from things like Pre-booked holidays/work commitments and infirmity that stops you getting to the voting station.

    Well done Jim but over 7,000 postal votes is very questionable indeed.

  19. I’m surprised that anyone is surprised by the Oldham result. It’s a very particular constituency with a Muslim population of around 25%, no doubt much galvanised by the twin factors of a possible UKIP victory and the recent vote on Islamic State. It’s also indicative of how horribly and dangerously polarised politics and society in general is becoming.

  20. Sine Nomine

    “I am in favour of banning postal votes apart from things like Pre-booked holidays/work commitments and infirmity that stops you getting to the voting station.”

    I have always been against Postal voting and would go further and only allow it in cases of infirmity backed by medical certificate. If people cannot be bothered to vote in person , they should lose their vote. My wife and I never miss an opportunity to vote.

  21. The Oldham result is not a surprise. Labours candidate has an excellent track record locally. He has been a very able leader of the local council. He also appears to be a ‘Kendall’ centre’ist. Corbyn has had little effect locally. In the bigger picture he has helped with his anti bombing stance and that has brought out the local Asian vote for him. That bit though was just lucky timing.
    Yes it takes the pressure off him but it’s another moderate MP in the HOC, who has replaced a hard leftie, in Meacher.
    So the civil war goes on.

  22. @Rob Sheffield

    McMahon may be on the right of the Labour party, but it’s a little silly to suggest that a Corbyn effect did not bolster the vote. Labour could not have won by 40% in a seat strongly targeted by Ukip if the voters hated the Labour leader. That simply isn’t a credible argument.

    Undoubtledly, Corbyn’s mangled comments on “shoot to kill” after the Paris attacks would have caused McMahon discomfort were he not able to point to his military background, but there are many other aspects of domestic policy where the people of Oldham West would be just as pro-Corbyn as in other Labour heartlands. For example, even in his victory speech, McMahon railed against cuts to local government budgets.

    We must also remember that McMahon’s very popular predecessor was further to the left of Corbyn!

  23. @Watchit

    Assume 25% Muslims in west of Oldham. 40% turnout – 10% of total vote.

  24. TOH
    Agree with you on postal votes entirely. They are a recipe for fraud especially in communities where community leaders instruct their community how to vote. I therefore have some sympathy with Farage’s comments, although in Oldham it seemingly wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, but it could in another contest.

  25. Possibly UKIP might have got more votes if it had been more patriotic.

  26. RAF

    10% is significant and the percentage may well have been higher, given the galvanising factors of UKIP and bombing Islamic State.

    I should have added, though, that McMahon was also a very good candidate – couldn’t have been better, really.

    It’s also indicative of how horribly and dangerously polarised politics and society in general is becoming.

    Surely the problem is that significant interest groups cannot readily combine to have a realistic chance of HoC representation but are shoehorned by the MSM and the plurality system into voting mainly for the big two parties or spoiling their votes either physically, by not voting at all or by voting for candidates with no real hope of success.

    In England, with one major [1] exception, the plurality voting system has been largely to blame for this ever since it was last tinkered with in the 1870s. If nothing else, the SDP split from Labour in 1981 showed how any challenge to the supremacy of the two establishment parties will be stifled eventually.

    So long as people do not have any realistic hope of electing candidates for whom they actually want to vote, that polarisation will continue.

    In Scotland and, to a lesser extent, Wales, the less undemocratic system of election to Holyrood and Cardiff Bay has to some extent allowed parties to flourish and/or wither according to the taste of the electorate.

    Over 16 years that process allowed the election of 56 SNP MPs out of 59 Scottish seats in the 2015 UK general election with just 50% of the vote, leaving the other half of the electorate effectively unrepresented. That’s nearly as bad for democracy as the Cons getting more than half the seats in the HoC from less than 37% of the vote.

    [1] Jo Chamberlain’s Liberal Unionists switching to Con presaging the demise of the Liberal Party and allowing Labour to become the “alternative” to Con governance once they abandoned Home Rule for Ireland and Scotland.

  28. New thread.

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