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.

Today’s Times has a new YouGov poll of Labour party members and registered supporters (so members, registered trade unionists and £3 supporters – the same group who were able to vote in the Labour leadership election). Full tabs are here.

65% thought Jeremy Corbyn was doing well as leader, 34% badly as leader. Less promisingly, only 46% think it’s likely Labour will win the next election under Corbyn and only 38% think it’s likely he will ever be PM. Labour party members think Corbyn is doing well and expect him to lose. This apparent contradiction is easily resolved: 56% of Labour members think parties should say what they believe, even if it’s unpopular and loses elections, in comparison 32% think they should compromise in order to put foward policies that allow it to win an election and put policies into action.

Looking forward there is little appetite amongst Labour members for a change of leader: 57% think Corbyn should remain leader and fight the next election, 20% think he should hand over the leadership to someone else at some later point during the Parliament, 18% think he should go now.

There’s a sharp division between those who voted Corbyn and the minority who didn’t – 86% who voted Corbyn think he’s doing well, 66% who didn’t vote Corbyn think he’s doing badly. 82% of people who voted Corbyn think he should stay till the election, 43% who voted differently think he should stand down now. The vast majority of people who voted for Corbyn think he is doing well and think he should stay on, at least for now; there is no sign at all of buyer’s remorse amongst Corbyn’s voters. Equally, Labour party members who opposed Corbyn in the leadership election continue to oppose him, there is little sign of them rallying round their new leader. The Labour party remains divided.

It’s quite hard to judge whether these figures are good or bad. Surveys of party members are quite rare, most of the time they only happen in the middle of a leadership election when there is no incumbent leader whose ratings we can compare. There were no polls, for example, of Labour party members when Ed Miliband had been in the job for a few months that we can compare to see if David Miliband supporters had rallied round the leader or all still wanted Ed to resign.

79% think the shadow cabinet is divided, but Corbyn’s opponents are much more widely blamed for this than Corbyn himself – 54% think the fault is mostly his opponents’, 19% Corbyn and his allies, 25% both equally. On balance, there is support amongst the Labour selectorate for mandatory re-selection of MPs – 39% think MPs should be automatically reselected unless they’ve failed badly or are very unpopular, 52% think all MPs should face a full reselection anyway.

Finally YouGov asked about two specific policy issues facing Labour. On Europe the party membership is clear: 80% would vote for Britain to stay in the EU and 62% think Jeremy Corbyn should actively campaign in favour of EU membership. On Syria Labour party members divide two-to-one against airstrikes and three-to-one against the use of British ground forces in Iraq or Syria. 48% of Labour members think Corbyn should oppose the RAF taking part in airstrikes against ISIS, only 25% think he should support them.


YouGov have some polling for the Times on attitudes to terrorism and Syria following the attack on Paris. The full results are here, and the Times’s write up is here.

There are two important findings in there. One is attitudes towards Syrian refugees. Back in September YouGov found 36% thought we should accept more Syrian refugees, 24% keep the numbers about the same, 27% that we should admit fewer or none. That support has dropped sharply, now only 20% think Britain should accept more (down 16), 24% the same number (no change), 49% fewer or none (up 22).

It would be wrong to assume this is necessarily connected to the attack upon Paris. The previous poll was conducted at the start of September, a week after the photos of the body of Aylan Kurdi washed up on the beach and amid sympathetic media coverage of refugees trudging across Hungary seeking a route to Germany. At the time there was evidence that the public had become more favourable towards the idea of accepting more Syrian refugees. However time has passed, the media coverage of sinking boats and desperate refugees has faded away again, and I expect a significant chunk of the change in public opinion is because of that – some heartbreaking photos and coverage did provoke a temporary change in opinion, but it was only temporary.

The other interesting finding is on sending British and US troops back into Iraq to fight Islamic State/ISIS. 43% of people now support sending in ground troops, 37% of people are opposed. The change since the last time YouGov asked is barely significant, but it’s part of a longer and much more clearer trend. Back in August 2014 when YouGov started asking this question the British public were strongly opposed to sending troops back into Iraq, but since then opinion has steadily moved in favour of intervention. We are now at the point where there are significantly more people in favour than opposed.


On other matters, the monthly ICM poll for the Guardian came out yesterday, with topline voting intention figures of CON 39%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 3% (tabs here. Their weekly EU referendum poll has figures of REMAIN 43%, LEAVE 38%. Survation have also put out some new figures, voting intentions are CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 3% and EU referendum intentions are REMAIN 42%, LEAVE 40% (tabs here.

We have two new voting intention polls today. First is a telephone poll from ComRes for the Daily Mail – topline figures are CON 38%(-1), LAB 33%(+3), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 10%(-2), GRN 3%(-1). Since introducing their new turnout model based on socio-economic factors ComRes have tended to show the biggest leads for the Conservative party, typically around twelve points, so while this poll is pretty similar to the sort of Conservative leads that MORI, ICM, YouGov and Opinium have recorded over the last month, compared to previous ComRes polls it represents a narrowing of the Conservative lead. Full tabs are here.

The second new poll is from BMG research, a company that conducted a couple of voting intention polls just before the general election for the May2015 website, but hasn’t released any voting intention figures since then. Their topline figures are CON 37%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%. BMG have also adopted a methodology including socio-economic factors – specifically, people who don’t give a firm voting intention but who say they are leaning towards voting for a party (a “squeeze question”) or who do say how they voted last time are included in the final figures, but weighted according to age, with younger people being weighted harshly downwards. Full tabs are here.

BMG also asked voting intention in the European refrendum, with headline figures of Remain 52%, Leave 48%. ICM also released their regular EU referedum tracker earlier in the week, which had toplines of Remain 54%, Leave 46%. A third EU referendum poll from YouGov found it 50%-50% – though note that poll did not use the actual referendum question (YouGov conduct a monthly poll across all seven European countries they have panels in, asking the same questions to all seven countries and including a generic question on whether people would like their own country to remain in the EU – this is that question, rather than a specific British EU referendum poll, where YouGov do use the referendum question).

YouGov have some polling out on attitudes towards the government’s tax credit changes – full tabs are here. They suggest that the policy is seen as unfair, and seen as likely to have a negative financial effect upon most recipients… but people are evely divided on whether it should go ahead.

Overall the changes are seen as unfair by 46% of people, fair by 28% of people. YouGov then asked about the combined effect of the tax credit changes, the minimum wage increase and the increased tax allowances and whether it will leave different groups better or worse off. By 45% to 1% people think they will leave those out of work worse off, by 57% to 13% they will those on the minimum wage will be worse off, by 53% to 7% they think those in work and earning low wages (but above the minimum wage) will be worse off. Whatever the actual facts of whether people will be better or worse off, the government have clearly failed to convince the public that the combined effect of the policies will leave people better off.

While it was seen as unfair and bad for most of the less well off, when YouGov asked it if it should go ahead people were evenly divided. People didn’t like the principle of the changes – 53% thought they were a bad thing, only 21% a good thing. However, within that 53% of people who disapproved, 16% thought they should go ahead regardless given the state of the public finances, 37% thought they should be stopped and the money found elsewhere. Adding up those who like the changes and those who dislike them but reluctantly think they should happen brings us to 37% wanting the changes to go ahead, 37% wanting them stopped.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily answer the real question on the extent to which the policy damages the Conservative party, and George Osborne in particular. Currently we are still talking about a political row within Westminster that most people will pay relatively little attention to (the survey found 15% of people saying they were playing close attention to the story… and it’s likely polls over-represent those who pay attention to politics anyway). If the changes go through though the political impact will be on the number of people who actually see their income fall… assuming, of course, that they are still sore about it in four years time and it hasn’t been dulled by the passage of time. There is a good reason why politicians implement the unpleasant and unpopular decisions they want to make early in the Parliamentary term.

On other matters, Ipsos MORI have their monthly political monitor in today’s Evening Standard. Topline voting intentions are CON 36%(-3), LAB 32%(-2), LDEM 10%(+1), UKIP 12%(+5), GRN 3%(-1). Labour and the Tories are both down, with UKIP popping up to the sort of level that we’re used to seeing in other polls, but which is unusually high from MORI this year. Full tabs are here.