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Iraq: Public Support Maintained — The State Of Public Opinion On The War

Date:8 April 2003
Category:Comment & Analysis
Specialism:Social Research
Keywords:Iraq, Iraq War, Public Opinion
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MORI Chairman Sir Robert Worcester reports on the state of public opinion on the war

MORI's latest survey, undertaken 28-31 March, found only a bare plurality approving of the way the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is handling the current situation with Iraq, 47% approve and 44% disapprove, for a net plus 3. By contrast, the latest Pew research in the USA found that 69% of Americans approve of the way the President, George W. Bush, is handling the war and 23% disapprove, a net plus 46.

However, a majority of the British, 56%, support Britain taking part in the military action against Iraq and 38% oppose, according to the MORI telephone poll of 969 British adults.

A new online poll by YouGov found 68% of British people thought Tony Blair's handling of the war had been excellent or good. Of those questioned on 3/4 April, 28% said his handling had been poor or very poor. The poll, for ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby programme on Sunday, showed 55% of those surveyed said the US and UK were right to have taken military action against Iraq, with 38% saying they were wrong.

ICM, in the Daily Mirror on Friday, asked on 1 April "Now that the war is two weeks old, do you think we were right or wrong to start it?", and found 48% said 'right', and 38% 'wrong', with men nearly two to one saying 'right' (58% to 32%), while a plurality of women, 43% 'wrong' and just 39% 'right'. Young people are split equally over whether Britain was right or wrong to 'start' the war, 42% taking each side. Among the next age cohort however, the 25-34s, 57% said 'right' and only a third, 34%, 'wrong'.

Now that the war is underway, there is overwhelming support here for leaving the British forces there to do the job they were sent to do. Asked "When do you think you would consider it right to bring British forces home from Iraq", only 16% say 'now' and three in four, 77%, say 'when the war is over, no matter how long it takes'.

The latest YouGov internet survey for the Daily Telegraph published on Friday also shows steady support for the US and Britain taking military action against Iraq. The fieldwork, last Wednesday and Thursday, found 55% saying 'right' and 38% 'wrong, a net plus 17, compared to plus 14 on 1 April, plus 16 on 30 March, and plus 24 on March 27 just after the troops went in.

Nearly eight in ten of those taking part over the internet said they thought the war was going well from the British and American forces point of view, but 73% said they are 'worried' about the war and its possible consequences.

Of those who said they were 'worried', three in four identified either more terrorist attacks on Western targets (74%) and terrorist attacks in this country (72%).

In the USA, public support for the war remains steady. A new poll by the respected Pew organisation released on Thursday from fieldwork March 28 - April 1, has 71% of Americans approving of the way the American President, George W. Bush, is handling his job as President, and 69% approving of the way he is dealing with the war in Iraq.

Four in ten Americans, 44%, say they are worried that themselves or someone in their family might become a victim of a terrorist attack, and eight in ten say they are worried 'a great deal' (39%) or 'a fair amount' (43%) that terrorists might strike within the U.S.

Sir Robert Worcester is Chairman of MORI

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Sir Robert Worcester
Sir Robert Worcester

Founder of MORI