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Opinion polls and the misrepresentation of public opinion on the war with Afghanistan

Miller, David (2002) Opinion polls and the misrepresentation of public opinion on the war with Afghanistan. Television and New Media, 3 (2). pp. 153-161. ISSN 1527-4764

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Abstract

Opinion polls since the attack in the United States on 11 September show that a slim but consistent majority of British people oppose strikes on Afghanistan. Yet the media have uniformly reported that there is consistent support for war. From the News of the World and the Sun, via the Mirror, the Scotsman, the Economist, the Daily Telegraph, and the Times, to the Independent, Guardian, and Observer, we hear that public opinion is “solid” (The Economist, U.S. edition, 22 September 2001), that Britons are “ready for battle” (The Observer, 23 September 2001), and that “Nearly Eight in 10 Britons Support Military Attacks” (The Mirror, 20 September 2001), “Scots Overwhelmingly Back a Just War” (The Scotsman, 19 September 2001), “Two-Thirds of Britons Back Blair Action” (The Independent, 24 September 2001), and “2 in 3 Back Air Strikes“ (The Guardian, 18 September 2001). The News of the World (16 September 2001) reported “overwhelming” support for bombing under the headline “Attack. Attack. Attack.” The Daily Telegraph (20 September 2001) claimed “the poll confirmed that there is virtually no support for peace campaigners.” A Guardian leader (18 September 2001) claimed “there is no disputing the bottom line. On this one, Tony Blair is definitely speaking for Britain.”