A new BBC opinion poll reveals that Gordon Brown is failing to persuade the British public the occupation of Afghanistan is either winnable or justifiable. This is at the same time as the Independent on Sunday becomes the first mainstream British newspaper to call for the troops to be brought home, with the front page headline 'Time to Leave'. I helped run a Stop the War stall in Newcastle yesterday and can testify to this headline tapping something deep in public consciousness: we had no difficulty in getting support for our message.
This has been a particularly bloody week for the British armed forces in Afghanistan; today is a Remembrance Sunday where it's all too obvious that war is still with us, not just a feature of history we need to commemorate. Five soldiers were killed in a shooting on Tuesday, and three others have died in the last week (including a soldier in the Helmand Province yesterday).
The BBC poll is interesting, as it reveals that opposition to the war is slightly higher amongst those defined as 'working class'. Andrew Hawkins, head of the polling agency responsible for the survey, suggests it's Labour's 'core supporters' who most strongly oppose the occupation. And he remarks: 'Overall, there is the sense that Afghanistan is becoming for Gordon Brown what Iraq became for Tony Blair.'
This is no suprise to some of us. Traditional working class communities, like many here in Tyneside, are most likely to provide the military with those who are sent to fight - and people, including many soldiers themselves and relatives of soldiers, have had enough. It is also these communities that are hardest hit by recession, as money continues to pour into a wasteful, pointless military occupation.
No to NATO Demonstration
Bring the troops home from Afghanistan - Scrap Trident nuclear missiles
Saturday 14 November
Assemble 10.30am East Market Street(Behind Edinburgh Waverley)
Called by Stop the War Scotland, supported by STW UK, CND, SCND, Scottish Afghan Society & SACC