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Poll shows "public wants proof" of need for war

Readers of the Western Morning News have voted overwhelmingly against British forces going to war with Iraq.

In a poll run by the newspaper, 96 per cent – 2,115 readers – said “no” to war, while just four per cent – 86 readers – said they were in favour.

As the paper revealed the poll result it published an eight-page special on Iraq, including an analysis of the result by London editor Jason Groves, looking at Tony Blair’s continued argument for military action.

It also published a double-page spread of readers’ letters on the subject, a full-page diagram looking at US and British forces already in or near the Middle East and an interview with some of the servicemen on board HMS Ocean, conducted on the eve of her trip to the Mediterranean.

Commenting on the poll result, editor Barrie Williams said it showed the prime minister needed to prove the need for war.

He said: “Tony Blair may have convinced himself that he’s right to back the United States in an armed conflict against Iraq. But so far, as the poll powerfully confirms, he’s failed to persuade the rest of us.

“The overwhelming vote against war with Iraq, with a massive 96 per cent of readers opposing an attack, is the most dramatically one-sided telephone poll in the history of the newspaper.

“And it has been recorded in a region with strong military traditions, a high proportion of retired people and where the majority of the population can fairly be described as holding views that are conservative – with a small ‘c’.

“So when readers of the Western Morning News tell Tony Blair he’s got it wrong to take Britain into battle, then it’s clear he has a long way to go to convince the nation as a whole that an attack on Saddam is right.”

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