Today’s Times has a snap poll of 500 people conducted on Wednesday by Populus (meaning the sample was too small to include voting intention questions). 27% of people agreed with the decision to send al-Megrahi back to Libya on compassionate grounds, with 61% disagreeing. We can’t precisely compare this to Scottish YouGov poll yesterday, since the methodology and wording of the questions will be different, but it does mean the early suggestions are that the Scottish public are more sympathetic to al-Megrahi’s release than Great Britain as a whole.

Populus asked whether a series of people or governments had handled the affair well – the US government, the SNP administration, Kenny MacAskill, Brown, Cameron, Ghaddifi and so on. The full figures are not in their report, but from the information there it appears that the public thought everyone handled it badly, though Brown and Ghaddifi came off worst, with Cameron and the US government coming off best.

No doubt it will be asked about in some of the GB polls to come in the last week of the month, but in the meantime the Sunday Times last weekend reported a Cello mruk poll of Scottish opinion on Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi last weekend. The poll was actually carried out way back in June, but “could not be reported for legal reasons” (presumably in case it influenced his appeal or any future retrial).

Firstly, 60% of people in Scotland said they thought that Megrahi was guilty, with 9% saying he was innocent and 31% unsure. 51% thought he received a fair trial, 10% thought he didn’t.

Asked what should be done with him, of those who expressed an opinion (meaning we don’t know how many people said they didn’t know), 49% said he should remain in gaol, 40% that he should be transferred to a Libyan gaol and 11% that he should be freed on compassionate grounds. So, releasing him was the preferred option for only a tiny minority of Scots…though a majority of those with an opinion did want him sent back to Libya one way or another.


42 Day Detention

A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph this morning found 69% of people supported an increase in the length of time people can be held without charge from 28 to 42 days “in exceptional circumstances”, 24% opposed it.

This is in line with previous polling, which has always tended to show a substantial majority support policies to extend the length of time terrorist suspects can be held. The picture is a bit muddier when alternates like allowing the questioning of suspects to continue after they are charged are brought into the equation, but in general the government’s policy has public support.

Tonight of course, it is the opinion of MPs that matters, not the public – the best place for analysing that is, as ever, Phil Cowley’s site

I somehow missed this NOP poll earlier this month, conducted for the BBC just before September 11th. Most of the results were in line with the myriad of other polls on the war on terror which were commissioned around the 5 year anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers – 56% of people thought the West was losing the war on terror, with only 20% thinking the West was winning. 52% supported withdrawing British troops from Afghanistan, 50% supported withdrawing British troops from Iraq. 55% thought the government was too closely aligned with the US on foreign policy.

The most surprising finding was on the question of whether Western governments should negotiate with Al-Qaeda. Most other polls have asked questions along the lines of whether Britain should be more conciliatory towards the Muslim world on a unilateral basis. This is the first one I’ve seen that has asked if Western Governments should actually negotiate with Al-Qaeda. A majority of respondents (52%) said no, we shouldn’t, but 32% of people think that we should.

On the 5th anniversary of 9/11 there is, unsurprisingly, a new poll out on the war on terror. This time it is by YouGov for Sky News. The main findings are similar to the other recent polls on the issue. 63% of people told YouGov they thought there was a “war on terror” – made up of 62% of people who thought there was a war that the West needed to win, and 1% who thought the West should lose. The percentage of people saying there is a war on terror is higher than some of other questions asking if we are at war, since it offered the choices of being at war or not being at war, when some previous questions asked if whether we should consider it a war, or something else.

The survey found the same sort of pessimism about how well the “war” is going and how long it is likely to last as in the YouGov/Spectator survey last month. Only 7% thought we were winning the “war on terror”, with 22% thinking we were losing. 66% of people thought that the “war” would not end in their lifetimes.

77% of people thought that “Tony Blair’s policies towards the Middle East have made Britain more of a target for terrorists” with only 13% of people disagreeing.

Finally, YouGov asked about the possibility of war with Iran – something that, surprisingly, hasn’t actually been polled upon to a great extent. The answers however were unsurprising: 67% said if America took military action against Iran and asked Britain to send troops we should refuse, 16% would supporting sending troops. Supporters of all three political parties were overwhelming opposed (thought Lib Dems were most opposed, with only 8% supporting, and the Conservatives least, with 20% supporting).