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Re: [casi] Opinion polls.. in Britain,3605,1047817,00.html

Blow to Blair as majority say war not justified

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday September 23, 2003
The Guardian

Monthly Guardian/ICM poll of voting intention. Source:

Tony Blair has decisively lost the debate over Iraq
with a clear majority of voters now saying that the
war was unjustified, according to the results of this
month's Guardian/ICM poll published today.
The survey shows that British public opinion on Iraq
has moved sharply over the summer in the face of the
Hutton inquiry, the failure to find weapons of mass
destruction and the continuing instability in Baghdad.

In the immediate aftermath of the war in April public
support for the war peaked at 63%. By July it had
slipped to 51% but a majority still said the war was
justified. Now for the first time a clear majority are
saying the war was unjustified (53%), and only 38%
believe it was right to invade Iraq.

The survey also shows that the Brent East byelection
has provided a dramatic boost to the Liberal
Democrats, who are now only two points behind the
Tories and enjoying a 28% share of the vote, their
highest poll rating for 14 years.

The ICM poll shows Labour maintaining a five-point
lead over the Conservatives but reveals serious
erosion in the government's reputation for economic
competence in the last six months.

On Iraq, the poll signals that the public is no longer
giving Mr Blair the benefit of the doubt on the war.

The detailed results show some significant swings.
Among men, the net justified/unjustified feeling about
the war has moved from minus one in July to minus 29.
Even Tory voters no longer support the war, moving
from plus 20 in July to minus 12 now. Among Labour
voters, sentiment is still pro-war but the gap has
narrowed sharply from plus 30 to plus 16. Liberal
Democrat voters are most hostile with a rating of
minus 45 points.

The boost to the Lib Dems' poll position - up six
points on the month to 28% - follows their byelection
triumph but also reflects an underlying strengthening
of their rating since the general election. It
confirms that it has been Charles Kennedy's party
rather than the Tories who are benefiting most from
the government's troubles.

If the Liberal Democrats produced this kind of
performance in the next general election they would
have no trouble in achieving the 3.8% swing needed to
implement their "decapitation strategy", which would
see shadow cabinet members Oliver Letwin, Theresa May
and David Davies losing their marginal seats.

The advance of the Liberal Democrats this month
appears to have been at the equal expense of Labour
and Tories. Labour's 35-point rating is its lowest on
the Guardian/ICM poll for 11 years.

Mr Blair's failure to convince the public on Iraq may
be one big factor in eroding Labour's poll rating but
the September ICM survey also uncovers a more
subterranean shift. The party's reputation for
economic competence, which has been crucial to its
landslide election successes since 1993, is showing
signs of erosion.

In March this year 47% of voters named Labour as the
party with the best policies for dealing with the
economy. This month's ICM poll shows that has fallen
to 29% of voters.

The Tories are doing no better: their economic
competence rating has also fallen, from 28 to 18

 ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged
18 and over by telephone from September 19-21.
Interviews were conducted across the country and the
results weighted to the profile of all adults.

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