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http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,1047817,00.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: ICM. 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 points. · 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. __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software http://sitebuilder.yahoo.com _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk