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[casi] Research shows opinion shifts on Iraq

Research from University of Walws- Cardiff,

Research shows opinion shifts on Iraq
 Nearly half the population - 46% - claim to have changed their minds
about the war with Iraq, new research at Cardiff University has

While 83% said they "supported allied forces" during the war, only
44% now say they support the decision to go to war with Iraq.

Researchers in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies,
conducted a detailed nationwide survey of more than 1,000 adults, to
explore the shifting nature of public opinion towards the war. Their
study goes beyond recent polls to analyse not only who has changed
their minds, but when and why.

 They identified three main groups of "switchers":

The largest group are those - nearly 30% of the overall sample - who
supported the war while it was happening, but did not support it
either before or afterwards. Of this group, nearly half - 49% - said
they changed their minds temporarily because of the need to support
the troops during wartime.
The second largest group of switchers - 9% overall - supported the
war before the conflict but now oppose it. This group is motivated by
different reasons, chiefly the failure to find "weapons of mass
destruction" and the lack of evidence to support the need for war, as
well as the sense that they had been misled by the government.
The smallest group of switchers - 6% of the overall sample - have
moved the other way. This group did not support the war beforehand
but do so now. Here the main reasons given are the benefits to Iraqis
of "regime change."

"The support won during the Iraq War now looks increasingly like a
pyrrhic victory, drowned out by questions about both the motives and
the consequences of British involvement," said Professor Justin

"The picture that emerges overall, however, is not promising for the
government. Those now persuaded of the merits of the war are at least
cancelled out by those who have withdrawn their support for it amidst
the unanswered questions about how the war was justified. And most of
those who didn't support it beforehand, no longer feel bound by the
need to support the troops, and have reverted to their sceptical

What part has the death of Dr David Kelly and the Hutton Inquiry
played in all this? Most people - 89% - said they were aware of what
the researchers described as "the Kelly affair", and nearly one in
five (19%) said that it had influenced their opinion about the war.

The role of the media

The research suggests the BBC is still widely regarded as the most
trusted source of information during the war. When asked "which media
outlet gave the best, most informed coverage", 47% chose BBC news
programmes - more than four times the number choosing ITV News.

While a long way behind, Sky also did well - nominated as best source
by 12.5% in the survey. The internet, on the other hand was nominated
by only 0.2%.

The study confounds those who argue that the media should be
patriotic rather than impartial during wartime - 92% feel that "TV
news should try to be objective and impartial when covering war", and
only 5% disagree. This applies equally to both war supporters and
opponents. And despite the partisanship of most newspapers, 88% think
the Press should also be objective and impartial (with, once again,
only 5% disagreeing).

The profile of supporters and sceptics

The survey also revealed some interesting differences emerge between
those who now take pro-war and anti-war positions.

While Mirror readers are now mostly in the anti-war camp, and even
the pro-war Mail has more anti-war than pro-war readers, it is
readers of Murdoch's Sun who are more dramatically tilted in favour
of the war than any other readers. Sun readers who still support the
war outnumber opponents by more than 2 to 1.
War supporters also appear to have more faith in the information they
receive than war opponents. The anti-war people in the sample were
much less likely to trust the information being reported about the
war: 42% of war supporters felt most information to be trustworthy,
compared with only 28% of the anti-war group. Conversely, only 20% of
war supporters distrusted the information they were getting, compared
with 30% of those who were against the war.
The study indicates that war supporters and opponents are fairly
evenly spread by age and socio-economic class - although the most
anti-war sections of the population seem to be at the top and bottom
ends of the socio-economic scale. However, there is a gender gap,
with 57% of women now opposing the war, compared with 48% of men.
The members of the Iraq war research group are Professor Justin
Lewis, Professor Terry Threadgold, Dr. Rod Brookes, Kisten Brander,
Nick Mosdell and Sadie Clifford.

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