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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 16:49 GMT
War against Iraq 'inevitable', polls show
Anti-war protesters lobby Parliament
Many people are opposed to war on Iraq

Analysis of the latest polls suggests that as the US and Britain mobilise an awesome array of personnel and weaponry for possible military action against Iraq, public support for such a policy appears to be waning.
Tony Blair faces voters who loathe Saddam Hussein but also distrust George Bush and will only be personally persuaded to support military action if it is sanctioned by the United Nations.

What must be deeply frustrating for Mr Blair is that this opposition is growing at the same time as the government's main charge against the Iraqi leader is widely accepted.

An ICM poll for the News of the World (19 January) found that 75% of respondents believed Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction.

It also seems clear a sense that events are leading relentlessly to war is beginning to develop.

'Mood of disquiet'

ICM found that 56% of respondents thought a war against Iraq involving British troops was inevitable.

A MORI poll for the BBC's Today Programme, (21 January) confirmed the general mood of disquiet when it found 62% disapproval ratings for Tony Blair's handling of the Iraq situation (as for President Bush, some 68% disapproved of the way he has handled the situation).

And whilst 61% supported British participation in UN approved military action, 77% were opposed if Britain took action without UN approval.

If we experience a long and bloody conflict then Tony Blair will find himself politically exposed and vulnerable

The monthly ICM/Guardian poll (21 January) found support for military action (30%) at its lowest since they began tracking this question in August 2002.

They found narrow majorities against action among Labour and Conservative voters but a very substantial majority against among Lib Dems.

ICM found 81% of respondents agreed that a fresh UN mandate is essential before any military attack is launched against Iraq (including two-thirds of those who said they supported military action).

Asked how anxious they felt that their immediate family might suffer from a terrorist attack in Britain, 51% said they were worried (including 15% who were "very worried") and 48% said they were not.

'Failure is an orphan'

In recent days Tony Blair has hinted at the tough and unpopular decisions Prime Ministers sometimes have to make.

If he orders British troops to take part in a US-led attack on Iraq without UN sanction, the polls show he will do so against the instincts of the great majority of voters.

If any such action is successful, finished quickly and results in few British casualties then the rewards in terms of Mr Blair's reputation are likely to be considerable.

But if we experience a long and bloody conflict then Tony Blair will find himself politically exposed and vulnerable.

As the man once said: success has many parents, but failure is an orphan.


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22 Jan 03 | Politics
21 Jan 03 | Politics
21 Jan 03 | Middle East
21 Jan 03 | Politics
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