Brown defies public opinion over Afghanistan

The Prime Minister, in his speech today, failed to heed the public’s concerns over the war in Afghanistan.

In a speech this morning at the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Prime Minister said Britain “cannot, must not and will not walk away” from its mission in Afghanistan, despite the further loss of life British troops have experienced over the last week.

He stated that “the main terrorist threat facing Britain emanates in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. And, rejecting calls from Kim Howells earlier this week to “pull out of Afghanistan and take the fight to Bin Laden in Britain”, Gordon Brown said “only by tackling this threat at source can we prevent it reaching our shores”.

However, the court of public opinion takes a very different stand point to the Prime Minister. A recent YouGov poll carried out on behalf of Channel 4 News shows that 73 per cent of the British Public believe troops should be brought home either immediately or within the next year or so. This, coupled with 57 per cent of the British public believing victory was no longer possible, shows a nation at odds with the policy of their government.

With only a fifth of the public agreeing with Gordon Brown that troops should remain in the country as long as they are needed, questions will be asked over the future of the British mission in Afghanistan. But in an interesting note, the Prime Minister also stated that President Karzai needed to ‘set out his positive agenda for the second term’ and international support would depend on the scale of his ambition in security, governance, reconciliation, economic development and neighbour relations. How the Prime Minister will assess and measure these issues is yet to be seen.

Our guest writer is Andrew Thornton, a recent International Relations MA graduate of UEA Norwich specialising in Central Asian Politics

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