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For first time, majority of Britons oppose Iraq war: poll

Monday, 22-Sep-2003 5:10PM PDT
Story from AFP
Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)

LONDON, Sept 23 (AFP) - Support for the Iraq war among British voters continues to plummet with a majority believing for the first time that the conflict was unjustified, a poll published Tuesday showed.

A total of 53 percent of voters believe war was unjustified with 38 percent backing the conflict, according to the ICM poll published in The Guardian newspaper.

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Immediately after the Iraq war in April, British public support for the war stood at 63 percent, falling to 51 percent in July.

The latest poll's findings are a further blow to Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is facing the biggest crisis of his six year tenure over the suicide of David Kelly, the British scientist at the centre of a BBC report that London exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq.

The fallout from Kelly's suicide and opposition to the invasion of Iraq has resulted in the lowest voter support for Blair's ruling Labour party in more than a decade, according to The Guardian.

Only 35 percent of voters are willing to back the party in the next general election, due mid-2006 at the latest, according to the ICM survey.

However, Labour has managed to hold on to its five percentage point lead over the opposition Conservatives since last month.

Britain's third main party, the Liberal Democrats, have made significant gains following victory last week in a key London by-election, which saw them wipe out a large Labour majority.

According to ICM, support for the Liberal Democrats is up six percentage points on last month -- standing at 28 percent -- two points behind the Conservatives and their best showing in the poll for 14 years.

The telephone survey of 1,002 adults was conducted last weekend, following Labour's humiliating defeat in the by-election.