Peter Hoskin

Public opinion of the Afghanistan conflict

Public opinion of the Afghanistan conflict
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Of course, one poll doesn't make a watertight case, but the results of today's ICM/Guardian poll on the Afghanistan conflict are still worth noting down.  Perhaps counterintuitively, support for the war has actually risen since the last ICM poll on the issue in 2006.  47 percent of people now support the war (up 15 from 2006), against 46 percent who oppose it (down 6).  While 42 percent of respondents want British troops to return this year, against 36 percent who think that they should stay in Afghanistan until they are no longer needed.  And only 6 percent of people say they have "no idea" why British troops are in the region.

It would be interesting to see how - if at all - these numbers change now that Afghanistan has returned to the political foreground.  The usual view is that the conflict receives far more support in Westminster than is does among the general public.  But now that Nick Clegg has broken ranks, you wonder whether more politicians will call for the troops to be returned home, and whether that - in turn - will affect wider opinion.  For his part, Gordon Brown is - rightly, in my view - pushing the case for our involvement in Afghanistan.  He published a letter on the subject on Satuday, and he's expected to reiterate its main points in his Commons statement today.  But will his support translate to more troops in the region?  Well, this morning's Times suggests not.