There were a large number of other areas touched on in the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times: Iraq and Afgahnistan. People think that British troops are failing in both Basra and Afghanistan. Only 15% think troops are making Basra safer for its residents and only 6% think British troops are winning against the Taliban (though a further 39% think victory is still possible). There is widespread support for the withdrawal of British troops from both arenas, 29% favour immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and 45% favour a phased withdrawal over the next year. The equivalent figures for Afghanistan are 28% and 37%. 38% of respondents favoured giving Iraqis who had worked as translators for British forces special treatment and allowing them asylum after British forces leave, but 42% of people were opposed.

Brown and Bush. Following his first meeting with President Bush Gordon Brown does seem to have managed to convince people that he will be less close to Bush than Tony Blair was. 73% of people thought he was less close to Bush, and 57% of people though he had got the relationship about right.

Climate change. A slight majority (52%) of people thought the recent flooding was not connected to climate change and was just a freak weather occurance. Just over hald of people thought Britain’s policy (54%) should be to do more about climate change and set an example for the rest of the world. 25% of people agreed there was a problem, but thought British action was pointless when put beside the carbon emissions of larger countries. 15% of people are still to be convinced that climate change is a problem that needs addressing.

71% of people claimed they had changed their lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly in the past year, though as I’ve mentioned earlier, I am highly dubious about such questions where there is an obvious “socially acceptable” answer. The majority of those people when asked exactly what they’ve done said they’ve recycled a bit more. Relatively few reported making any drastic change like flying less (17% of the 71%), using a low carbon emission care (4%) or offsetting their carbon emissons (2%). Asked if they would support policies that forced people to change their lifestyles only 25% said they would, though a further 45% said they would if other countries also did it.

Interestingly 70% agreed with the idea that green issues were only high on the agenda because of the benign economic climate, and that the issue would rapidly drop down the agenda if economic times became more difficult.

Boris v Ken. There was a lot of excitement over the last YouGov/Telegraph poll because it asked if people would support Boris or Ken, and respondents in London gave Boris a slight lead. It’s been asked again, and this time Ken has a one point lead over Boris. The question is different, this time there is a “neither” option, but the given the very low sample size and the unreliability of regional splits within nationally representative polls, the shift wouldn’t have meant much if it had been the same question. We still await a proper Boris v Ken poll – perhaps once the Lib Dem candidate becomes clear someone will be more likely to commisson one.

Madeleine McCann. It looks as though we’ve reached the point where British newspapers can be critical of the McCann’s and dare to measure public opinion. The poll found 71% of respondents agreed that Madeleine McCann’s parents were wrong to leave her alone, and 54% of people think they were treated sympathetically by the press here because they were middle-class professional doctors. Only 29% think that the Portuguese press have been wrong to be critical of them, with 27% thinking the British press should have been more harsh.


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