Afghanistan Poll for BBC One's Politics Show

Public poll on attitudes towards the war in Afghanistan, conducted for BBC One's Politics Show for broadcast on 8 November 2009.

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Date Published
08 Nov 2009

Further Description

A ComRes poll commissioned exclusively for BBC One’s Politics Show, broadcast from 1215 tomorrow (8 November), suggests that public support for the British military campaign in Afghanistan is dropping, and that more than 40% of people do not understand why we're there.

Andrew Hawkins, chief executive of ComRes, said:
"Overall there is the sense that Afghanistan is becoming for Gordon Brown what Iraq became for Tony Blair: more than four in ten don’t understand Britain’s mission, support for the British presence there is ebbing away, and a majority have responded to the Presidential election very negatively indeed. The results suggest that the impact of the war must be having an impact on Labour support, since is that Party’s core supporters who are most strongly opposed to it".

Polling statements and summary of responses (with bullet point comments from Andrew Hawkins):
The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable
Agree 64% - up from 58% in July
Disagree 27% - down from 31% in July
Don’t know 10%

    • The Government is clearly failing to convince the public that this war is winnable: apart from 18-24 year olds, at least 60% of people in all age groups, social groups and GB regions agree that the war is unwinnable
    • Worringly for the Government since they represent the core Labour vote, 65% of people in social group C2 and 66% in DE agree with this statement

All British forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan as quickly as possible
Agree 63% - up from 60% in August
Disagree 31% - down from 37% in August
Don’t know 6%

    • In light of the first statement, it is unsurprising that a higher proportion of people now think all forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan
    • As with the previous statement, Labour’s core supporters C2s and DEs are most in agreement, both registering more than 70% support for this statement

The levels of corruption involved in the recent Presidential election show the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting for

Agree 52%
Disagree 36%
Don’t know 12%

    • This is potentially devastating for the Government’s case for war: by implication just over a third of the public think that the war is worth fighting for in light of the Presidential election
    • Opinion across different social groups shows a wide variance, ranging from 41% among ABs up to 65% among C2s.

I feel I have a good understanding of the purpose of Britain’s mission in Afghanistan
Agree 54%
Disagree 42%
Don’t know 4%

While a majority say they have a good understanding of the purpose of Britain’s mission, this still leaves more than four in ten of the public who admit that they do not.

Interestingly it is men who are much more likely than women to claim a good understanding (62% to 46%); however, it is our experience that men are more likely than women to claim understanding or knowledge and so this may be flattered by this effect.

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