Mass pro-Palestine demonstrations fully reflect mass public opinion

Sentiments have steadily shifted

There is a massive gulf over Gaza between the servile political class and the majority of the British population, writes Eddie Ford

Yes, as readers will know, there was another huge pro-Palestinian demonstration at the weekend in central London of between 200,000 and 250,000 - roughly the same size as the previous one. This was the ninth such demonstration opposing the Israeli genocidal assault against the Gazan people and calling for an immediate ceasefire, just as the leader of his majesty’s extremely loyal opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, was trying to contain what could have been the biggest rebellion against his leadership over this very issue in the House of Commons.

Now, if we were to believe the media and what you could call the British political class - or the elite if you prefer - these massive demonstrations in central London represent the views of a highly motivated and politicised minority (which, if it were true, would be no bad thing, as far as communists are concerned, as that is normally what happens). Of course, if you are Suella Braverman - eager as she is to replace Rishi Sunak when he falls on his sword after the expected resounding general election defeat - they are just anti-Semitic ‘hate marches’ that ought to be banned - but this is obviously madness, a complete disconnect from reality. However, very pleasingly, a recent YouGov poll of British attitudes to the Israel-Gaza war clearly shows just the opposite - that the demonstrations in London and elsewhere across the country, actually represent the majority of the UK population. A tip of the iceberg of public opinion.

Every grade

So what we had with YouGov was a weighted sample of 2,092 adults from every ‘social grade’ of both sexes, across all the age bands, throughout the entire country, that was conducted between February 12 and 13.1 In turn, this poll had been tracking since mid-November the views of samples from seven western European nations - including Britain obviously - in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack and the Israeli military response.2 These provided a very detailed exploration of fundamental attitudes to the conflict, including whether Europeans can understand the ‘mindset’ of its participants and where their initial ‘sympathies’ lie. For example (and not too astonishing in many respects), the most pro-Israeli country is Germany, where 29% say they sympathise more with them than the Palestinians (12%). Nevertheless, as it turns out, this represented a significant nine-point drop for Israel since October - being part of a general trend across the countries surveyed, which is hardly surprising, as the immediate period after the Hamas attacks was always likely to be the high watermark. Spain proved to be the most pro-Palestinian country, with 27% sympathising with that side more, compared to 19% for Israel.

Anyway, what was particularly striking about the poll of British attitudes to the conflict, was the massive gulf between the mass of the British population and the political class - something that can only delight communists and progressives, or anyone with genuine humanitarian sentiments for that matter.

Indeed, this was a surprising result if you remember the Iraq war - opinion polls then showed that you can fool some of the people some of the time. Indeed, in regular times - by one means or another - you can fool most of the people most of the time. That was certainly true with Iraq, despite the huge demonstrations against the war, with the majority of people still believing the lies of Tony Blair, George Bush and all the rest of them with their dodgy dossiers - WMDs ready to be launched within 45 minutes, and all the rest of the crap.

But that is not the case now, with the ruling class losing the propaganda war as the Gaza conflict goes from one horror to another - Israel issuing an ultimatum on Sunday saying it will begin a ground offensive against Rafah if the hostages are not released by Ramadan, which starts on March 10. A prospect too terrible to contemplate, as the underlining logic is genocidal - therefore expect pro-Israeli opinion to plummet further.

In a snapshot, the three central questions posed by YouGov were: Do you support or oppose the continuation of Israeli military action? Should there be negotiations with Hamas? Was Israel justified in its military response to October 7?

Regarding the first question, those in November who supported Israel and thought its attacks should continue was 19% - now that is down to 13%. As for those who disagreed, that was at first 59%, but is now 66%. In other words, 66% of those in the YouGov poll go along with the main slogan of the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, etc - that is, for an immediate ceasefire. Something doggedly opposed by Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and the so-called political class, representing a small minority of the British population, even if the Labour leader was playing with words, when it comes to his amendment to the SNP’s parliamentary motion bluntly calling for an immediate ceasefire.

With the second question about negotiating with Hamas, we are constantly told by the political class that you cannot do that - every time Hamas is mentioned in the BBC news we are reminded that it is designated a “terrorist” organisation by many countries, including the UK. Well, back in November, 61% thought it would be sensible to negotiate with Hamas - now it is up to 66%. The figure for those opposing negotiations used to be 16%, and now it is down to 11%.

Then we come to the third question, which was a bit more ambiguous, the exact wording being, “Do you think Israel’s attack on Gaza from October onwards is or is not justified?” That seems to have remained more or less unchanged, albeit slightly upward, meaning 44% used to think that Israel’s response was unjustified - now it is one point higher at 45%. Equally, 29% thought that Israel was justified in its actions, but now that has gone down to 24%.

Obviously, with this question and the others, we have to factor in a relatively large amount of ‘don’t knows’.

Some of the other questions in the YouGov poll are worth a quick look. When asked which side they sympathise with, the British population are now more likely to answer “the Palestinian side” than they were before the conflict began. Hence in the latest poll, 28% say they sympathise most with the Palestinians, compared to 23% in YouGov’s pre-conflict poll in May 2023 and 15% immediately following the Hamas attacks in Israel.

Interestingly, this is matched by a decrease in the number of people saying that they sympathise with “both sides equally” - now 22% compared to 31% in late November. The number siding most with the Israelis remains largely unchanged, at 16% compared to 18% in November. The number saying they sympathise with the Israelis “a great deal” has fallen seven points since November to 18%, matched by a five-point increase in “Don’t sympathise at all”.

Then we have the question, “Do you think that Israel does or does not try to minimise harm to civilians when it makes strikes in Gaza?” In November, 48% thought that Israel does not try to minimise such harm, and now it is 50%. Meanwhile, the number of people who think that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields” has gone down from 60% to 54%.

Thus, on nearly all measures, public sympathy for the Israeli side in the current conflict has fallen since November - a trend we can expect to continue over the coming weeks and months. The Suella Bravermans, Tracy-Ann Obermans and Maureen Lipmans of this world might attribute that to endemic English anti-Semitism, or the strange notion that anti-Semitism is “the new rock and roll” for disaffected young people, but for most people it is because what is happening in Gaza - stupid.3

Also, among the UK population - perhaps strangely enough - a belief that a permanent peace deal within the decade is possible has ticked up five points to 32%, which almost contradicts what we are seeing on the news every day. Nevertheless, more still at 39% think a permanent peace deal within 10 years “is not realistically prospect” - although this has gone down from 45%.

You could describe all this as revealing a general pacifistic or anti-war feeling - though you can get suspended from the Labour Party if you express this sentiment in a way that the party leadership finds “deeply offensive”. Andy McDonald, the MP for Middleborough, discovered this to his cost when he told the massive crowd at the October 28 anti-war/pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London that we cannot have justice “until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty”.


Anyhow, as revealed by YouGov, there has been no change in attitudes towards any of the potential resolutions for the conflict that the sample population was asked about. Two thirds of Britons (65%) say they support a two-state solution, where independent Israeli and Palestinian states exist alongside each other. By contrast, only 24% support a one-state solution, within which both Israelis and Palestinians would live with equal rights. But very few support the status quo (8%) - or expelling one side or the other from the region (5%-6%), which is very good to hear.

Since October 7 we have had a never-ending torrent of propaganda, with an almost supernatural image of Hamas just coming out of nowhere and attacking Israeli civilians, kidnapping people, even beheading babies - until that lie got too difficult to sustain.

Gratifyingly, however, the YouGov poll demonstrates that the political class and its media did not fool most of the people most of the time, let alone all of the time - it is now fooling fewer and fewer people for any of the time.

  1. . ygo-assets-websites-editorial-emea.yougov.net/documents/YouGov_-_Israel_Palestine_13_Feb_2024.pdf↩︎

  2. . ygo-assets-websites-editorial-emea.yougov.net/documents/YouGov_Eurotrack_-_Israel-Palestine_Nov_Dec_2023.pdf↩︎

  3. . lbc.co.uk/news/maureen-lipman-antisemitism.↩︎