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[casi] dodgy dossier/Channel 4 News

The outing of the dodgy dossier will go down in the history books as a
major factor in the evolution of this crisis, especially as far as UK
public opinion is concerned.  Excellent report and discussion with
pollsters and Michael Portillo on Channel 4 News this evening.  (Report
on poll results below.)

One interesting point from the discussion: commenting on how women are
more sceptical than men (see below), one person said women are leaving
the Labour party in droves because they don't feel they can trust
Blair/the party - a headache for Labour after they apparently spent
about 10 years trying to build up support from women.

Just a thought - is now a good time to borrow the Argentinian idea and
hold a series of anti-war cacerolazos* (pots and pans protest) outside
Downing Street, Labour Party headquarters, the US Embassy etc?

Cathy Aitchison
The Propoganda War

Published: 11-Feb-2003
By: Mark Easton

Our new poll, similar to the research being done inside Downing Street,
tells us what progress Tony Blair has made in building support for his
policy on Iraq

We've had 90-days of intense anti-Saddam propaganda since we last
carried out our huge survey of British opinion over Iraq.

Our new poll, similar to the research being done inside Downing Street,
tells us what progress Tony Blair has made in building support for his
policy on Iraq, but also what buttons he needs to press to get public
backing for a war.

Back in November we asked which country people regarded as the greatest
threat to world peace. Number one - not surprisingly perhaps - was Iraq.
Second the US. Third - Israel.

Now, though, Iraq has actually slipped down to third place. Second is
North Korea. And the country Britons regard as the biggest threat today
- the United States. On this evidence, Tony Blair is losing the
Propaganda War.

So after endless speeches, dossiers, blurry photos and crackly phone
intercepts, how convincing is the case for war?

We asked - true or false: Saddam has chemical and biological weapons.
74% the vast majority think that is true.

He's hiding weapons from the UN - 71% believe that.

Saddam has strong links to Al Qaeda? Only 33% think that's true - 34%
say it's false the remainder said they didn't know.

Last Wednesday US Secretary of State Colin Powell played America's
propaganda trump card at the UN. The Iraqis dismissed it as a stunt.

Was Britain convinced?

62% of people did not think his evidence amounted to proof that Saddam
has weapons of mass destruction.

But look at this: 21% of the public - thats one in five - thought his
evidence was fabricated.

65% of people think the government's case against Iraq is weakened by
Channel Four News revelation that they'd copied chunks of an
intelligence dossier from a twelve year old student thesis.

Looking now at what I call truth and consequences. What does the public
really think is Tony Blair's motivation for possible war against Iraq?

Did people think he was driven by a sense of morality and justice or
political self-interest?

A clear gender split on this question - among men, 41% think his motives
are pure, 38% think its self interest. But among women only 30% said it
was a moral issue, 46%, almost half are cynical about his motives. In
fact women across the survey are more sceptical

So what can Tony Blair do?

Three months of case building and look what's happened.

This was the situation last November - 13% said yes to military action,
9% no, 76% needed persuading.

Today - still 70% of people need to be convinced.

So would a second UN resolution do the trick? If Tony Blair had UN
backing for war instantly his problem would be solved 82% would back
military action. Without any UN support only 28% would back an attack
alongside the Americans.

But here's something very interesting - if Tony Blair got a majority of
the Security Council to back military action - even if one or two
countries vetoed a second resolution - 62% would go to war.

Cathy Aitchison

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