31 May 2013

Poll shows public at odds with reality of Iraq war

The Iraq war saw the biggest-ever protest in the history of London – the mother of all focus groups, you might say. We know from opinion polls before during and after the war that it was a historically unpopular enterprise for the Brits.

Yet now comes a poll about perceptions of the war which, notwithstanding the above, shows public perception wildly at odds with reality.

By common consent the war cost at the very, very least, 100,000 Iraqi lives and the figure may well be several times that.

Yet the poll, by ComRes shows the following in establishing public perceptions of the Iraqi death toll since the invasion of Iraq in 2003:

  • Two-thirds (66 per cent) of the public estimate that 20,000 or fewer civilians and combatants have died as a consequence of the war in Iraq since 2003.
  • One in 10 (10 per cent) think that between 100,000 and 500,000 have died and one in 20 (6 per cent) think that more than 500,000 have died.
  • According to public estimates, the mean number of deaths in Iraq since the invasion is 189,530.
  • Women in Britain are more likely to underestimate the number of deaths in Iraq since the invasion than men. Half (53 per cent) of women think 5,000 or fewer deaths have occurred since the invasion compared to one-third (35 per cent) of men.

Perhaps that last figure is the most startling – a majority of women and more than a third of men polled say fewer than 5,000 deaths have occurred. That figure is so staggeringly, mind-blowingly at odds with reality as to leave a journalist who worked long and hard to bring home the reality of war, speechless.

If we believe the results, then war-makers in government will take great comfort, as will the generals who work so hard to peddle the lie of bloodless warfare, with all the cockpit video propaganda video news releases and talk of “collateral damage” instead of “dead children”.

Equally – questions for us on the media that after so much time, effort and money, the public perception of bloodshed remains stubbornly, wildly, wrong.

ComRes interviewed2021 British adults online between 24 and 27 May 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council.

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