Half of people in Great Britain think pro-Palestinian marches should not be allowed to take place in London on Armistice Day, despite more people overall sympathising with Palestinians than Israel, according to an exclusive poll for Sky News.
A third of those asked thought the planned protests should be allowed to go ahead, according to a YouGov poll of 2,080 adults, carried out for Sky News on the 7th and 8th of November.
The chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, has said the London demonstration calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will take place as planned on Saturday.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has criticised the decision publicly, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he would hold Sir Mark “accountable” for allowing it, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay told Sky News that 11 November was the “wrong day” for protest action in London.
But Sir Mark said the “legal threshold” to stop the march on security grounds “had not been met”, and while there was “no mechanism to ban a gathering, a static protest”, people “should be very reassured that we’re going to keep this away from the remembrance and armistice events”.
How have sympathies changed since the 7 October attacks?
Sympathy from the British public is evenly split between the Israeli and Palestinian sides since the latest conflict broke out.
Support for the Palestinians has grown most since the immediate aftermath of the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.
The number of people who say they “don’t know” if they have the most sympathy for either side has almost halved in the last month, with a third of people now saying they have equal sympathy for both sides.
Splits by generation and politics
There are significant divides of opinion along lines of age and political support.
Older people and Conservatives are three times more likely to have sympathy for Israel than younger people and Labour voters, who tend to have more support for the Palestinians, the poll found.
The political divide is particularly interesting in the context of the government and official opposition having similar policies to one another, in terms of how Britain should respond to the war and escalating conflict.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, like Rishi Sunak, has supported calls for a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s military action, to allow aid into Gaza, but has stopped short of calling for an outright ceasefire.
While Conservatives appear relatively united on the stance, a portion of Labour members, councillors and even MPs have been vocal in their opposition to the position of the party’s leadership.
Type of ceasefire affects public support
The poll also reveals that more than half of people who voted Labour in the 2019 general election think the UK should oppose Israeli military action and call for an outright ceasefire, while fewer than one in five agree with the current policy.
More than a third of 2019 Tory voters thought a temporary ceasefire was the best option, twice as many as those who would oppose Israel’s military action entirely.
A third of people – the most popular option – believe recent similar demonstrations to the one planned on Saturday have mostly been about expressing support for Palestinians and opposition to war, the poll also found.
That’s almost twice as many as those who believe they have mostly been about expressing hatred of Israel and Jewish people, as suggested by Suella Braverman on Monday.
Almost three-quarters of people said the events in Israel and Gaza had made them feel upset, while two-thirds said it made them feel angry.
The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.