Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More than half of people in the UK think the "war on terror" is being lost

Half think UK 'losing terror war'
More than half of people in the UK think the "war on terror" is being lost, a survey for the BBC suggests.

It found 53% believed the UK government was losing the "war on terror" and 56% thought it was being lost by other western governments.

Four out of 10 people questioned said they felt less safe now than when the so-called war on terror began after the 9/11 attacks, while 11% felt safer.

GfK NOP surveyed almost 1,000 people for the Ten O'Clock News.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said it was difficult to define what "victory" in the so-called war on terror meant.

And while there had been success in the intelligence war, the battle to win the hearts and minds of British Muslims had not gone well, he added.

Gender divide

In the survey, some 52% thought British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan now, and half believed they should leave Iraq.

Those that thought UK forces should stay at the moment stood at 31% for Afghanistan and 34% for Iraq.

There was a clear gender divide, with men more willing for British troops to stay than women.

The figure for those who believed western governments should not negotiate with al-Qaeda was 52%, but almost a third thought they should.

The government is too closely aligned with US foreign policy said 55%, but 19% thought it was about right.

Almost a quarter of people thought the "war on terror" was being won in the UK, and a fifth thought it was being won globally.

'Pessimistic view'

BBC political research editor David Cowling said the survey paints a disappointing picture of what has happened in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

He said "The findings suggest an unwillingness for western governments to negotiate with al-Qaeda, alongside a rather pessimistic view of what has been achieved in the five years since New York's twin towers were destroyed.

"And the survey also reveals a strong difference of view between men and women about Britain's continued military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It also seems that the past five years has lessened the sense of security felt by many people."

The poll sampled 999 people nationally from the 8th to 10th of September.