Only 37 per cent of the UK public supports the war in Afghanistan, according to research published today (7 October), eight years to the day after the war began.
A poll carried out for the BBC showed 56 per cent opposed the war, while 6 per cent were unsure and 1 per cent refused to answer.
The numbers are similar to those in a BBC poll carried out three years ago, despite the government’s attempts to promote support for the war through events such as Armed Forces Day.
Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition welcomed the poll, repeating her insistence that the war in Afghanistan is “unwinnable”.
Labour MP Eric Joyce, usually known for his support for military operations, acknowledged that politicians should “listen very, very carefully to what public opinion is saying”. He admitted that “we haven't done enough of that up to now”.
The news of public opposition is likely to come as an embarrassment both to government and military leaders, who are reported to be squabbling over the sending of further troops to the region.
David Richards, the head of the Army, is reported to want 1,000 soldiers sent in addition to the 9,000 already there. Gordon Brown is rumoured to have offered him 500.
Meanwhile, controversy has emerged over the future role of Richards’ predecessor, Richard Dannatt.
Well-known for his criticisms of the government’s strategy in Afghanistan, it has now come to light that Dannatt will take a role advising the Conservative Party on military policy, possibly with a seat in the House of Lords.
The Labour peer George Foulkes accused Dannatt of being a “Tory stooge”, saying that his critical comments had been “encouraged by the Conservative front bench."