Poll: Iraq invasion ‘bad for UK’s reputation’

Britons believe the UK’s support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq has damaged its standing around the world, a poll suggests.

Ninety-five per cent of respondents to an Adfero poll said they believed Tony Blair’s support for the US-led invasion has had a negative impact of international perceptions of Britain.

Despite this, and the fact only one-third of respondents supported the 2003 invasion, the Iraq issue only affected around half’s decision on who to vote for in the 2005 election.

There is widespread dissatisfaction with Iraq’s progress since 2003 among Britons, the survey suggests. Nearly four in five said they thought Iraq was not in a better political and social situation than prior to the invasion.

Frustration with the lack of progress in Iraq is reflected in US president George Bush being placed top of the blame list for the poor security and humanitarian conditions in Iraq.

Around half the respondents said Mr Bush was responsible, compared to 35 per cent for terrorist group al-Qaida and 15 per cent who pointed the finger at neighbouring Iran.

There also remains deep uncertainty about future prospects for the unstable Middle Eastern country. Respondents were roughly divided about whether or not the security and humanitarian situations will improve in the next year.

The UK military presence in Iraq is due to be cut down from 5,500 in autumn 2000 to 2,500 this spring, with Gordon Brown insisting British forces have made a real difference on the ground to hand over power to Iraqi authorities.

But, amid doubts about the resurgence of different factions taking over Basra city and province, the survey suggests only two in five Britons believe UK forces have helped improve security in Iraq.