An ICM poll for tonight’s BBC Newsnight shows the public evenly split between support and opposition to Britain’s action in Afghanistan, but does suggest that support is continuing to grow.

46% said they supported the British mission in Afghanistan, with 47% opposed. A similar ICM poll for the BBC in March 2008 showed 40% support, a poll in September 2006 only 31% support. The survey was conducted between 10th and 11th July, so after news of many of last week’s casualties had been reported.

The higher level of public support for the action is Afghanistan compared to that in Iraq is probably connected to the poll’s other findings. More people thought that British troops were having a postive (33%) than negative (16%) effect in Afghanistan, and asked what the purpose of British troops in Afghanistan was, 80% cited the fight against Al Qa’eda and 78% helping the Afghan government defeat the Taliban. When, in the past, other polls asked similar questions about Iraq, they tended to show people thought the main reason was to secure oil supplies, and that the presence of British troops was making the situation worse.

ICM’s poll also found 42% saying that Britain should pull out of Afghanistan now, and 14% wanting Britain out by the end of this year. 36% said British troops should stay in Afghanistan for as long as needed.

Voting intention: For those of you waiting for a proper voting intention poll, Populus’s monthly poll for the Times will hopefully turn up this evening – normally we’d have had it last week, so I have my fingers crossed for tomorrow’s paper. We are also heading towards the time of the month when we can expect to see ICM in the Guardian or YouGov in the Sunday Times (though the latter is a moveable feast).

11 Responses to “ICM poll on Afghanistan”

  1. It’s an interesting result considering the amount of critical comment in the printed and broadcast media at the moment. On the BBC especially, there are people popping up all the time to argue that the mission has no clear strategy and our troops are too few in number/using inadequate equipment.

    It looks as though the public are not buying this, certainly not the former point.

    The problem is that Afghanistan has been a literal graveyard for foreign armies for more than a century and it’s not obvious why this time should be different.

  2. I suspect that if support for the war in Afghanistan is growing then it is because

    a) for a long time it was overshadowed by the mess in Iraq

    b) many people confused it with the war in Iraq, equating the scam that was the Iraq invasion with the quite separate circumstances in Afghanistan..

    There has also been a concerted ‘support the troops’ drive in the media too..

  3. Predictions for tonight’s poll….

    Con 35%

    Lab 29%

    LibDems 19%

    Others 11%

  4. Alas, they didn’t ask the question: “Who should we go to war with next?”

  5. C.L.A.D.

    That would give changes from last Populus poll on 10 June of:
    C -1
    Lab +4
    LD +/- 0
    Others -10
    And, does not add up to 100. Where did the other 6% go ?

    Any rationale for this bizarre prediction ?

  6. 56% of people want us out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. How exactly does this mean the British support the war?
    Lies, damn-lies and statistics !

  7. “Any rationale for this bizarre prediction ?”

    Very little, if any.

    6% Don’t Knows.

  8. The 2 reasons that we are consistently given to justify the war in Afghanistan are:

    1. To fight terrorism.
    2. To stop heroin arriving on our streets.

    If we are serious about terrorism then why are we not in the border territories of Pakistan?

    The last harvest of poppies produced a record crop – heroin is on the increase.

  9. The reason UK sent more young troops to dies in Afghanistan is to create “security” before the Presidential election.

    That election is currently rigged to re-elect a corrupt President who presides over a narco-state .

    The idea of democracy in that country is a very bad joke.

  10. The Taleban had basically stopped opium production of course. (True!)

    If the occupation of Afghanistan is to stop terrorism on our streets wouldn’t you have thought that a few other western countries might also be interested? But they are not, so perhaps that line is just propaganda.

    Perhaps we are in Afghanistan as we like to pretend we are a major player in world events and so keep dumping the army down wherever the USA asks us to put them.

    (The real unexplored issue of British history is the issue of ‘managed decline’; we like to think we still have an empire -and so act like we do- but really we don’t and are running out of money as we try to run with the dream (see-Trident / aircraft carriers / inadequate body armour for the military).

    The sooner there is an EU army the better (and who’s going to be the first to fall for that one :)) as we can all share the load then.

  11. “The sooner there is an EU army the better (and who’s going to be the first to fall for that one :)) as we can all share the load then.”

    God forbid-they would never stop talking about who does what & when & who pays for it, and where to intervene, and who to support & not support.

    Look at the bickering within NATO about Afghanistan-why on earth would an EU force be any different?

    The UN is the appropriate body for international military intervention-and how successful has that been?