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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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More than two-thirds think Government has failed to do all it can to support armed forces in Afghanistan, poll suggests

More than two-thirds (69%) of people think the Government has failed to do all it can to support the armed forces fighting in Afghanistan, according to an opinion poll carried out for BBC Two's Newsnight.

Newsnight commissioned the poll, conducted by ComRes, to assess what people think about Britain's involvement in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

It forms part of tonight's defence special which will debate the main issues facing the future of British defence and security.

The data was collected between 19 and 21 February 2010, while more than 1,000 British troops were taking part in Operation Moshtarak as part of a 15,000-strong NATO and Afghan offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

The poll also suggests that public opinion has remained largely unchanged in the last three months on the question of whether the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable – with 64% agreeing (compared to 64% in November 2009), 30% disagreeing (compared to 27%) and six per cent don't know (compared to 10%).

Speaking at a 70-nation London summit on the future of Afghanistan in January, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that mid-2011 should be the deadline for "turning the tide" in the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, the majority of those polled (63%) said that whoever forms the next government after the election should commit to removing British armed forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2010, with a third disagreeing (33%) and five per cent answering didn't know.

Tonight's programme will also take a look at the strategic defence review Green Paper, and consider what resources will be needed to combat future emerging security threats.

Joining Jeremy Paxman will be Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth; Shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox; and Liberal Democrat Defence spokesperson Nick Harvey.

A studio audience will also be taking part in the discussion.

It will be comprised of key defence experts and opinion formers, members of the Armed Forces – including General Sir Richard Dannatt – and relatives who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, amongst them Christina Schmid, whose husband Staff Sgt Olaf died defusing a bomb in Afghanistan.

Watch the programme tonight at 10.30pm on BBC Two.

Notes to Editors

Any use of information in this release must credit BBC Two's Newsnight.

Poll questions and methodology

The Government has done all it can to support our armed forces fighting in Afghanistan
Agree: 27%
Disagree: 69%
Don't know: 4%

The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable
Agree: 64% (64% Nov 2009)
Disagree: 30% (27% Nov 2009)
Don't know: 6% (10% Nov 2009)

Whoever forms the next government after the election should commit to removing British armed forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2010
Agree: 63%
Disagree: 33%
Don't know: 5%

ComRes interviewed 1,004 GB adults by telephone between 19 and 21 February 2010. Data weighted to be demographically representative of the GB population.

ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables available at


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