Page last updated at 05:08 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Majority 'want Iraq war inquiry'

British soldiers in Iraq
British soldiers have been in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003

Almost three quarters of British people believe there should be a public inquiry into the invasion of Iraq, an opinion poll suggests.

The BBC Radio 5 Live poll also found almost two thirds are not convinced UK soldiers should be kept in Afghanistan.

The vast majority of those surveyed believe serving in the British armed forces is a job to be proud of.

And opinion is split over whether Prince William should continue to be protected from frontline duties.

Military presence

The survey, conducted by ComRes for the BBC, found 72% of those questioned believe there should be an official inquiry into the UK's role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

This figure increases to 81% in the 18-24 age group.

Last year the government defeated Conservative attempts to force a public inquiry, saying it would be a "diversion" for UK troops serving in Iraq.

Opinion poll
ComRes surveyed 1013 adults by telephone between 6th and 8th March.

Data was weighted to be representative demographically of all GB adults.

And in February Justice Secretary Jack Straw vetoed the publication of minutes of cabinet meetings discussing the legality of the war in the run-up to the invasion.

There were fresh calls for an inquiry last week after documents showed that intelligence chiefs were urged to make a key dossier on the Iraqi threat as "firm" as possible.

Royal role

The BBC poll suggested 60% of those surveyed were unconvinced by the government's arguments in support of keeping a British military presence in Afghanistan.

Some 35% were convinced but only 8% said they were "very convinced". In the 25-34 age group those unconvinced dropped to 49% but increased to 70% for those aged over 65.

While the results show misgivings about the British role in Iraq and Afghanistan, 91% of respondents felt serving in the British armed forces is a job to be proud of.

Opinion was equally divided on whether Prince William should continue to be protected from frontline duties while serving in the British armed forces.

But those who feel he should continue to be protected rises to 63% among the over-65s.

In the 25-34 age group the figure drops to 38%, while 60% disagree with his protection from frontline duties.

More hopeful

Poll showing concerns about deteriorating security in Basra after British forces leave

Meanwhile, a separate survey for the BBC, America's ABC News and Japanese broadcaster NHK suggests Iraqis are much more hopeful about the future.

It indicates violence and insecurity are no longer the main concern of most Iraqis and that they are increasingly pre-occupied with more conventional worries such as the economy and jobs.

It suggests they remain unhappy about the role foreign powers play in their country, notably Iran, the US and UK.

There were mixed views when Iraqis were asked about the value of the British presence since 2003 - 36% called it generally positive, 42% generally negative.

Four in 10 respondents said they were very concerned or somewhat concerned that security in Basra could worsen after British troops leave, but 57% said they were not so concerned, or not concerned at all.

The BBC Radio 5 Live poll was commissioned as part of The Real Fighting Talk - a day of programmes on Monday 16 March focusing on the future of the British armed forces.

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SEE ALSO
Iraqis 'more upbeat about future'
16 Mar 09 |  Middle East
Inquiry calls over Iraq dossier
12 Mar 09 |  UK Politics
Hutton rejects 'whitewash' claim
13 May 04 |  UK Politics
'Serious flaws' in Iraq intelligence
14 Jul 04 |  UK Politics

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