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. @ Chris Lane

    For the first time I will be really critical with you.

    I agree that it won’t have much influence on the polls.

    If you read HB’s speech, then you would know that none of your claims about the speech stand the scrutiny. Either fallacy or ignorance, especially if you listen to ALL the verses of the song you referred to.

    Something else.

    Saudi Arabia just completely destroyed one of the most ancient cities in Eurasia without a blink of the eye this week.

  2. If Benn did indeed write his speech during the debate, then all credit to him. A politician who can make his speech relevant to an ongoing discussion, rather than trotting out something prepared days earlier, is refreshing.

    Members of Daesh are Islamic fascists, and they are no different from Nazi or Franco fascists. Quite why the far left distinguishes between them is puzzling. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably IS a duck.

  3. @Robert,

    Unless the Duck is fighting the USA, in which case it’s a legitimate protest against Imperialist aggression….

  4. Regarding Russia – they could implode before ISIS does.

    Crimea has been without power for nearly two weeks after Tartar activists blew up the pylons connecting them to the Ukrainian grid. But Russia is too inept to organise a connection to the Russian grid. See

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/world/europe/power-outage-forces-crimeans-to-reconsider-their-enthusiasm-for-secession.html

    Meanwhile in Mother Russia they are not only contending with an economy contracting by 4% and inflation of 15.6% (higher than Argentina’s!), but the truckers have decided to strike today in protest at a new tax that they say will increase their costs by 15%-20%. See

    http://www.rferl.org/content/truck-drivers-heding-to-moscow-to-protest/27397267.html

    It feels very much like a WW1 scenario when suddenly several empires collapsed. Russia is going to be one of them.

  5. Neil A

    The US taking out all the remnant pro-Russki regimes in the middle east while Russia was weak makes perfect sense from a realpolitik point of view.

    And if it had been done within five years like they originally planned then it would all be a fait accompli now.

    Carrying on with the program *after* Russia has partially recovered is a different thing.

  6. Chrislane
    ‘Prior to Hilary Benn’s speech Labour was about 20% below where it was under Ed Miliband at this stage, I think, since the latest figure is -11% in relation to the Tories’

    I am not sure what you mean by that. If you are suggesting that less than 7 months into the 2010 Parliament Labour had a 9% lead then you are wrong.
    Moreover, at the same stage in the 1987 Parliament the Tories enjoyed a 12 – 15% lead.

  7. SUE

    @”How many more times must Corbyn/McDonnell/Momentum say that there is no move to deselect sitting MPs.”

    Until they see that it actually stops happening-I presume ?

  8. Sue

    Actually I don’t think there is a “number of times” which would convince them :-

    “Stop the War condemns the whining complaints from those MPs who apparently do not like being lobbied. If an MP is not robust enough to withstand emails and tweets, they should really not be voting for bombing other people – those who wish to be alone with their consciences would do better to consider a life of religious contemplation. Stop the War will continue to hold to democratic account all those MPs who vote for war.

    We commend Jeremy Corbyn for his leading opposition to war. Stop the War will continue to support him in every way that we can. ”

    Stop The War website.

  9. @Robert Newark
    Members of Daesh are Islamic fascists, and they are no different from Nazi or Franco fascists

    Not Islamic. Just fascists. And they are no different (only far less powerful) than the (secular) Syrian Government fascists we are bolstering by our actions.

    As for Russia, I see no difference between it’s imperialism and America’s. They’ve always been two sides of the same coin. Just as the hard left turns a blind eye to Russian aggression, the right turns a blind eye to American aggression.

    The question is: why is a right wing UK government assisting a imperialist Russian government in support of a fascist Syrian regime – while the later continues to add to its tally of over 200,000 deaths – of the very people the right wing UK government says it wants to take over any land reconquered from ISIS?

  10. @RAF,

    Because the UK government couldn’t win a vote to support the US in tackling the fascist Syrian regime, and now the fascist ISIL regime has eclipsed the Syrian regime on the fascistometer both because they actually revel in killing civilians (rather than just not caring about it) and because they want to kill Westerners (rather than just opposing the West).

  11. I am a bit surprised that people from the Corbyn wing have not thrown at Benn rather more forcefully the fact that he voted for the Iraq war – in the context of everything else that has been happening. How did he justify supporting a war of British and American aggression given the lack of UN support? Many would argue that the 2003 attack rather mirrored the Fascist dictators he spent time condemning in his speech. Perhaps this is yet to come.

  12. lol

    it’ll have switched from Isis to regime change before the end of the week

  13. @hawthorn

    Re O’Neill, nobody is neutral. The question is whether they are right.

  14. Yes, Graham, this is the LP. Whether there could be a change or not is none of my business.

    There’s a by-election today that is perhaps a wee bit more important polling-wise than the 14 sorties the RAF can produce a day (I’m generous), although not for the dead.

  15. Candy

    So who are these people? Multiple sock puppets that belong to a handful of activists designed to give the impression that “lots” of people are against bombing ISIS? Or maybe they are the arm of Putin’s propaganda outfit? Or even ISIS’s propaganda outfit?

    No it’s really a black ops operations from the ‘moderates’, directed by Tony Blair from his secret lair under a Swiss mountain. All funded by ISIS – though given what he and Cameron have done to promote their cause (in Iraq and Libya) that last bit is almost plausible. All much more likely that either ISIS or the Putinbots being involved – neither group care whether a few different bombs are used or not. And the first lot will want to keep a low profile and the second lot want paying.

    In actual fact it’s probably just a few blowhards copying the same letter to every MP going while claiming to be a constituent and Labour member – which explains why the MP could find no trace.

    But we do know that there are “’lots’ of people are against bombing ISIS” because polling tells us. We know from this very poll that Labour voter’s disapprove by 57% to 23% and a previous poll of Labour members:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/mnx9wm5xmh/TimesResults_151123_LabourMembers.pdf#page=23

    showed them disapproving 58% to 28% at a time when Labour voters were in favour by 49% to 29%.

  16. @Neil A

    “@RAF,
    Because the UK government couldn’t win a vote to support the US in tackling the fascist Syrian regime, and now the fascist ISIL regime has eclipsed the Syrian regime on the fascistometer both because they actually revel in killing civilians (rather than just not caring about it) and because they want to kill Westerners (rather than just opposing the West)”

    There was never any serious prospect of “tackling the Syrian regime”. The US wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and looked for every possible excuse not to intervene, as they knew the Russians would go all-in in defence of Assad.

    The only possible solution there has ever been is diplomatic. Resolve the Syrian civil war and then all sides collectively can eradicate ISIS. By strengthening Assad we create more terrorists. Yes, ISIS kill and threaten the West whereas Assad does not. But Assad’s killing creates more terrorists, so it’s a bit of a false economy.

  17. I do understand that current use of the term “Fascism” has very little to do with the principles of that early 20th century political movement – but I still find its indiscriminate use in the context of (authoritarian, “beyond the level I find acceptable for my own set of authoritarian pals – which, of course, is OK – even if identical to the other side’s authoritarian pals) – rather annoying.

    I have difficulty in seeing Daesh as “Fascist”, which was a form of authoritarian nationalism. They are more Trotskyite, in their wish to spread their ideology everywhere.

    In their adherence to a highly conservative version of one religious sect, a more appropriate comparison with an ideology from the Christian tradition would be Falangism.

    If we are to employ its current usage, however, the application of the term “Fascism” to any group that people don’t like, is very Fascist. :-)

  18. LASZLO.
    Good Evening to you.
    I disagree with you, if may about HB’s speech.
    As to the song, I know the words very well, but, now that I am older, and read Homage to Catalonia, I think the song is a little biased.
    Speak for England, Arthur helped, as you know, turn the tide in Parliament as Dan Jarvis mentioned yesterday.
    BTW: tonight John McDonnell is speaking at a Momentum Rally in Lambeth. The rally is protesting against the Labour Group in Lambeth. I am unsure about the polling effects of this event

  19. RAF

    “The US wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and looked for every possible excuse not to intervene, as they knew the Russians would go all-in in defence of Assad.”

    The attack on Assad was planned for 2013 – the UK vote helped to block it.

  20. Meanwhile….onto polling. And the Oldham by-election.

    Mike Smithson says turnout could be sub-30%. Who does that favour?

  21. “Who does that favour?”

    I’d say Labour – on the assumption they’re miles ahead on the postal votes.

    That part of Lab’s vote which is now ex seem to think not voting is enough but to have an effect they have to actually switch.

  22. @Mr Jones

    The UK vote in 2013 gave the US cover to back down, but they always knew it was not a viable proposition, hence Obama’s multiple red lines. They did not fancy taking on Russia and Iran.

  23. Sky snap poll on Syrian bombing:

    http://news.sky.com/story/1599443/sky-poll-uk-strikes-make-many-feel-less-safe

    Majority of London and Scotland (small) sub samples against extension of strikes to Syria.

  24. OLD NAT: Hello to you, and I am still in the old business of teaching! BTW I think Mr Salmond has upset a member of Tony Benn’s family/

    I think the Caliphate vision is probably a form of nationalism.

    The head-chopping and crucifixions seem to me, at least, as a form of fascist-type violence, and the use of religious texts to justify themselves replicates Franco’s use of Catholicism.

    Eatwell’s masterful study of Fascism is worth re reading in this context as is Kershaw’s one volume new edition on Hitler.

    As this is about polling, there is, for me, an alarming article in The Times today about the Oldham voting patterns. Labour cannot win a GE with ‘white working class voters’ deserting.

  25. RAF

    I’d agree that Obama has been as much of a road block as possible.

  26. HIRETON. Good Evening to you.
    As far as we can tell about by elections and demonstrations public opinion was in favour of peaceful responses in the 1930’s.

    We saw this at the Fulham and Oxford by elections and the crowds greeting Neville Chamberlain at his reception in Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England after his Munich meeting.

    Fortunately Mr Bevin engineered the removal of Lansbury.

    Labour, however, opposed re armament, as Attlee was wary of the National Executive Committee, some of whom were taking orders from Moscow such as Laski.

  27. Chris Lane

    How did your students get on with understanding Select Committees?

    “The head-chopping and crucifixions seem to me, at least, as a form of fascist-type violence, and the use of religious texts to justify themselves replicates Franco’s use of Catholicism.”

    Yep – hence my suggestion that Falangism would be a more appropriate descriptor (save that the historically ignorant would have even less of a clue than usual.

    When are we going to mount air strikes on states that employ “head-chopping and crucifixion”? Presumably all those lauding Hilary Benn’s rhetoric would also want to follow the logic?

    His Dad may have had some unusual ideas – but, at least they had internal consistency. The lack of that is what would have Tony birling.

  28. RAF

    You are correct, Daesh are not Islamic but they see themselves as so and they follow a warped interpretation of the Koran. I should have enclosed the word, Islamic in quotes and this is why I favour the term Daesh. In truth, they are just murderous criminals.

    MP’s are not delegates and never have been. They are supposed to be better informed than the mob. They weigh up all the considerations and vote with conscience on a free vote. That is why the death penalty was done away with, probably 30 years before a majority of public opinion agreed with that view.

  29. On C4 News there was an interview with a female Labour MP & an “activist” who had posted something about ” 66 Warmongers” **

    The MP was exdplaining that she voted after listening to the arguments in the HoC debate.

    Whereupon the Activist person interjected that this was “the problem”-MPs shouldn’t be debating & making up their own minds -they should be consulting their members.

    This-she felt-was the “new” Democracy.

    I think Labour definitely has a problem unless & until Gorbyn does what Tristram Hunt asked for this evening-publicly to denounce Momentum & declare it has nothing to do with him or the Labour Party.

  30. OLD NAT.
    I think Anthony Wedgwood Benn and then Tony Benn did change his mind, and had major effects on the polls, such as after his June 11 1970 Belsen speech attacking Powell, and then his 1979 to 1983 career.

    ROBERT NEWARK.
    I fully agree about use of term DAESH, but the news from the University College of Goldsmith last night was disturbing.
    Back to polling: It seems that Labour’s GE result and tonight’s Oldham result show that the Muslim vote is strongly Labour, but Labour is losing many white working class voters.
    Labour is struggling outside its 1923 core areas and London.

  31. CHRISLANE

    Goldsmiths is worrying-it is but one in an increasing tide of intolerance to free speech in our Universities-Cardiff, Oxford & others.

    Professor Anthony Glees recently commented on this state of affairs.

    You might be interested in this :-

    http://www.spiked-online.com/free-speech-university-rankings/findings

  32. COLIN
    How can you “undermine” your party leader when he gives you a Free Vote ?
    Just asking
    ____

    We all know he had little choice on the issue.
    ………
    CANDY
    “Scotland can’t afford an oil price of $44.39 per barrel either. Well they could if they went hyper-Tory and cut, cut, cut their state. But they won’t – they’ll opt for the mild Tory they’ve got within the union. :-)
    _____

    Now that Russia has started bombing oil tankers heading for Turkey I forecast a rise in the oil price. I think the Scots played a blinder, stay with the union when the oil price is low then bolt when it rises.

    And your doomsday forecast for Russia imploding.. One of the things that really upsets some in the west is the apparent resilience of the Russian economy in the face of sanctions. Their military spending is going up and they along with China are now the only two nations in the World to have anti-satellite missiles.

    it’s certainly not a one way battle against Russia and it will take more than Western sanctions and mad Tatars in Crimea to bring the bear to its knees.

    The problem is that the Russian people are largely united and they have a leader who has approval rating leaders in the west can only dream to have.

  33. In the absence of polling, I’d like to ask a question which has puzzled me for a while. I note that Benn referred to Daesh as ‘fascists’ in his speech, and am of course aware that ‘fascist’ has been employed as a generalised political term of abuse for many years, particularly by the left.
    My understanding (and I’m open to correction by anyone except Oldnat) is that the Fascists were the Italian version of what the Nazis were to Germany. My question is, why has ‘Fascist’ become the general term of abuse, rather than ‘Nazi’? I know Nazi is used sometimes but fascist seems to be the default.

  34. Twitter speculation that Ukip may have won Oldham West. No exits and no pre-election polling, so it may just be speculation.

    It’s very close, that’s for sure.

  35. I wonder at what point Momentum becomes a criminal matter.

  36. COLIN

    A number of Labour MPs annoyed enough to come on TV today to complain about threats to their incumbency from the fringes of the Party.

    One of them just said that Corbyn needs to do more than condemn it -he must stop it.

    Indeed Corbyn must immediately stop people saying daft things on Twitter. It’s well known that these superpowers automatically come with the position of Labour leader and, even if you can’t get your shadow cabinet colleagues to do what you want, you have complete control over all social media throughout the world.

    But you have to ask yourself if these threats are coming from the ‘fringes of the Party’, how come they are plausible threats? By definition a ‘fringe’ implies a fairly small fraction of the Party and they should not be able to overthrow a good and conscientious sitting MP. This should be especially true now that Labour have increased their membership, so that deselection will need many more votes. After all, when groups such as Militant tried such actions, they made sure that they kept membership numbers low and tried to keep new members (unaffiliated to themselves) from joining.

    And even before this latest boost in numbers for Labour, deselections were very rare – there were none in the last parliament. Not Labour ones at least – there were two Conservatives sacked by their members (Yeo and McIntosh) and some other close shaves as well. Still who would vote for a Party run by fanatics who get rid of their MPs, eh?

  37. @peteb

    ‘re fascism etc , you may find this piece by Peter Hitchens interesting:

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/intervention-liberal/

  38. RAF

    If UKIP fail to win the seat considering what is a perfect storm surrounding Labour then surely questions over Farage’s leadership will surface.

  39. Why is it controversial for the members of a.n.other organisation, reminding those who represent them, that if they act in a way they don’t approve of, they may choose to not select them to represent them next time round?

    It’s time some MPs put on some big boys/girls pants. If they can vote to send our troops to war, they can surely handle a few brick bats.

    Threats of harm outside the law are bad, no doubt, but if members use the party rules to remove representatives that don’t represent them, well that’s the rules!

  40. @AW
    @Neil A

    I see on Oddschecker that Hilary Benn is 22/1 to be Prime Minister AFTER the next general election.

    Osborne is 10/3, Cameron 7/2 and Corbyn 8/1.

    Whilst you were undoubtedly correct to point out my error yesterday, Benn’s price again looks good to me.

    He has gone from 2/1 to 4/1 to be next Labour leader since yesterday, which explains the curious odds, as I am sure you will both understand.

    Hope that makes sense.

  41. PETE B
    My question is, why has ‘Fascist’ become the general term of abuse, rather than ‘Nazi’?

    I suspect it’s largely a question of timing. Mussolini found his Fascist Party in 1919 and was in power by 1922. The NSDAP was only founded in 1920 and grew much more slowly, not gaining power until 1933, the same year that Primo de Rivera founded the Spanish Falangists.

    Also, Mussolini was fairly highly regarded in the 1920s for his apparent success in improving Italy’s economic fortunes.

  42. Hireton
    Thanks for that link. It both answered my question and gave other interesting insights and observations.

  43. @Millie,

    Yup that’s much better odds.

    Ironically whilst, if Benn were the Labour leader I’d bet on him beating (probably) Osborne in 2020. I think the chance of him being Leader is less than 1 in 100. So still not a good buy!

  44. BARBAZENZERO
    Thanks for the reply but I think I prefer the article that Hireton linked to, because the fact that Mussolini was originally admired does not explain why ‘fascist’ is the preferred term of abuse.

    Actually, in that article, Peter Hitchens quotes Orwell as long ago as 1946 saying that ‘The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.” ’

  45. Barbazenzero

    In the UK at least, the preference for the term “Fascist” probably relates to the strength of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, founded in 1932.

    In the 20s, I think you are right that admiration for “Fascism” was more to do with Mussolini’s apparent success in government.

  46. RAF

    I don’t see any such Twitter Speculation.

    I also posted Orwell’s view of the use of the word “Fascist” but it went into mod for some reason.

  47. “Who does that [low polling] favour?”

    I said Labour above but there might be a caveat on that *if* postal votes are well down due to individual registration.

  48. UKIP aresaid to be tweeting that Labour have won Oldham/Royston by-election.

  49. Amber

    And LDs tweeting Lab 50%+, all others except UKIP lost their deposits.

    The Blairites are going to be really, really pissed off if Lab has won. :-)

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