Iraq still dividing Britons five years on

Britons remain divided about whether the UK should have helped invade Iraq on the fifth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

According to a poll over three-quarters of Britons believe Iraq is in a better position, both socially and politically, than before the March 20th 2003 invasion.

The five years which have passed since then have seen instability and sectarian violence in the unstable Middle Eastern state.

Recent violence in Basra, where the Iraqi government is struggling to assert his authority after the effective departure of UK troops from the city, reflect the ongoing uncertainty about its future.

With prime minister Gordon Brown admitting last month an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the decision-making in the run-up to war will eventually have to be held, the issue is not fading from headlines.

Seventy-two per cent of respondents said they disagreed with the decision to go to war in 2003, with 23 per cent approving and five per cent uncertain.

This is more than the proportion who said the Iraq war had affected the way they voted in the 2005 general election, which saw the government’s majority substantially reduced.

Fifty-six per cent said the war had affected their voting while 39 per cent said it had not.

Recent unrest has seen defence secretary Des Browne postpone plans to cut Britain’s deployment in the south of Iraq to 2,500 this spring, as had been announced by Mr Brown in autumn 2007.

53 per cent of respondents said they believed troops should be withdrawn sometime in 2008 while the remainder backed a later exit. Five years after Saddam’s statue toppled in Baghdad on April 9th 2003, coping with the invasion’s aftermath remains as political divisive as ever.