Wednesday, 18 November 2015

'52%' want UN backing for airstrikes

While the voices calling for Britain to be more involved in a military campaign against ISIL are becoming louder, it is worth noting that public opinion is divided on whether further commitment is the best course of action.

In fact, a recent poll, taken after the Paris atrocities, indicates public opinion may be more along Jeremy Corbyn's line of thinking.

According to the survey - published by Survation, which questioned 1,546 people on November 16 and November 17 – just 15 per cent of people support Britain taking unilateral action against ISIL in Syria. A further 52 per cent support a ‘more measured, multilateral response, military or otherwise' but, crucially, 'backed by a UN resolution’.

Thirteen per cent believe Britain should avoid any involvement whatsoever, a policy backed by 19% of UKIP voters.

Significantly, the poll also reports that a majority fear our current bombing campaign against ISIL in Iraq has not made this country any safer, quite the opposite in fact. Just 18 per cent of people thought military strikes against Islamic State had made the UK safer, 56 per cent think the country is less safe as a consequence.

In Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron was asked - by the SNP's Angus Robertson, not Jeremy Corbyn - would he only commit the UK to further action against ISIL if he had the approval of the United Nations. This is Mr Cameron reply:

'It is always preferable to have a UN Security Council resolution, but if they are vetoed or threatened with a veto over and over again, my job, frankly, as Prime Minister, is not to read a Survation opinion poll but to do the right thing to keep our country safe.'

It would seem that the Prime Minister is not too concerned by the views of the UN then. 

But if he presses ahead with his plans for a Commons vote on bombing in Syria, he will still face an almighty struggle to get it through. Last time round 30 Conservatives voted against Syrian airstrikes and Jeremy Corbyn now plans to order his side to vote against any expanding military commitment without UN backing. There will be Labour rebels but can Cameron really rely on sufficient numbers being prepared to defy their leader to get it through?

(Survation's full results can be found here)

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