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BBC poll finds most Iraqis say their lives are better. At home, there is a narrow majority supporting the war

Category : BBC News
Date : 16.03.2004
Printable version

To mark the first anniversary of the war in Iraq, the BBC has commissioned two major polls.


The first, by Oxford Research International, is the biggest survey of Iraqis ever undertaken.


One year on from the war, more than 2,500 Iraqis were asked about their lives today.


Overwhelmingly they say life is good right now, and more of them support than oppose the war.


The second - a poll of British public opinion by ICM for Newsnight - shows a significant level of support for the Prime Minister, with a narrow majority in the UK now in favour of the war (48% in favour; 43% against).


Of the people who expressed an opinion, it was very close as to whether people thought the war was legal or not (37% thought it was legal; 39% who thought it was illegal).


When asked which of the three main political leaders the British public would most trust to make the best decision next time Britain has to take military action, more said they supported Tony Blair than either Michael Howard or Charles Kennedy.


There will be full coverage of the findings across BBC News from BBC ONE's Breakfast and Radio 4's Today programme onwards.


Iraq war – right or wrong


"Thinking about the build-up to the Iraq war and everything that has happened since, do you think that taking military action was the right thing to do, or the wrong thing to do?"


Right 48%

Wrong 43%

Don't Know 9%


Did the Government lie about WMD?


"In the run up to the war with Iraq, do you think Tony Blair and his Government…"


Told the truth about WMD 29%

Exaggerated but did not lie about WMD 40%

Lied about WMD 22%


Who would you trust to decide next time?


"If the British Government had to decide again whether to take military action, who would you trust to make the best decision?"


Tony Blair 32%

Michael Howard 22%

Charles Kennedy 17%

None of them 13%

Don't know 15%


Source: BBC/ICM, 10-12 March 2004, sample 1,014


The UK poll conducted by ICM will feature in One Year On: Iraq - a Newsnight Special on BBC TWO today (Tuesday 16 March) at 9.00 pm.


The second poll was jointly sponsored by the BBC, ABC News, German network ARD and NHK in Japan, with field work by Oxford Research International of Oxford, England.


The poll consisted of in-person interviews conducted from 10 to 28 February with a random, nationally representative sample of 2,500 Iraqis.


Interviews for the survey were conducted from 223 randomly selected sampling points across the country.


The Iraqi people are optimistic about their future with 70% declaring that life today is good.


The poll results show that a majority (57%) of Iraqis think things are better now than before the war.


However, 85% said regaining public security was the major priority and only 25% had confidence in the coalition forces.


More Iraqis (49%) still believe that the coalition invasion was right compared to those (39%) who thought it was wrong.


When asked about what Iraq needs at this time, whilst 86% answered "an Iraqi democracy", 81% also mentioned "a single strong Iraqi leader".


The highlights of the Iraq survey are as follows:


• Overall, 70% of Iraqis say that their life these days is good, compared with 29% who say their life is bad.


• Compared with just before the war in 2003, 57% of Iraqis now say their life is better overall, compared with 19% who say it is worse and 23% who say it is about the same.


• 71% of Iraqis expect their lives to be better in a year from now, compared with 6% who expect life to be worse and 9% who say life will remain about the same.


• Half of Iraqis (49%) believe the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition was right, compared with 39% who thought it was wrong.


• Opinion was evenly split on whether the invasion humiliated Iraq (41%) or liberated it (42%). Almost one in five respondents (17%) refused to comment.


• Asked about conditions where they lived, 69% said the availability of jobs was bad and 64% said the same about the electricity supply. 72% said conditions in local schools were good but respondents were evenly split on the whether the local security situation, supply of clean water and availability of medical care was good or bad.


• In terms of the top three priorities in Iraq over the next 12 months, regaining public security rated by far the highest (85%), followed by holding elections for a national government (30%), ensuring the majority of Iraqis can make a decent living (30%) and reviving the economy (28%).


• Among those who had heard of them, Iraq's religious leaders scored the highest level of confidence (70%). But they were closely followed by the police (68%) and then by the new Iraqi army (56%). At the other end of the scale, only 25% expressed confidence in the US/UK occupation forces and 28% in both Iraq's political parties and the Coalition Provisional Authority.


• When asked about what Iraq needs at this time, whilst 86% answered "an Iraqi democracy", 81% also mentioned "a single strong Iraqi leader".


• In terms of the future structure of Iraq, 79% wanted "one unified Iraq with central government in Baghdad", compared with 14% who wanted regional governments with a federal government in Baghdad. Only 4% favoured dividing Iraq into separate independent states.


• When asked what political actions by other people would be acceptable, whilst the overwhelming majority of respondents thought any violence was unacceptable, some 17% said attacks on coalition forces would be acceptable, 14% said the same about attacks on the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and 10% thought attacks on foreigners working alongside the CPA would be acceptable.


• In terms of the continuing presence of the coalition forces in Iraq, 39% of respondents supported their presence, compared with 51% who were opposed to it.


• As for what would be most effective in improving security in Iraq, 96% said that creating jobs would be most effective, 93% said training and hiring more Iraqi local police and 87% said transferring all political authority to an Iraqi government.


• Whilst 15% said the coalition forces should leave Iraq immediately, 36% said they should remain until an Iraqi government was in place and a further 18% said "until security is restored".



Category : BBC News
Date : 16.03.2004
Printable version


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