The Spectator Magazine of the UK has sponsored an in—depth public opinion poll, one which seems to smash various received stereotypes about the British public:
Almost three quarters of the British public are now convinced that we are fighting a new world war against extremist Islamic terrorists — and although they may not recognise the names, on this issue at least, most are in the same camp as leading US conservatives such as Eliot Cohen, Norman Podhoretz and Newt Gingrich. The public is also deeply concerned at how this new conflict is developing, with four out of five judging the West to be losing and the terrorists to be winning. Almost nobody believes that last week's foiled plot to blow up a large number of transatlantic flights will be the last such attempt, or that the police and security services will be as effective next time; 86 per cent of respondents believe that Britain is likely to suffer a major terrorist attack within the next year.
There is reported a strong wish for a more aggressive stance:
...the public is convinced that the key to winning this new global war against terrorists lies in a much more aggressive foreign policy, as well as in severe reductions in civil liberties in Britain. One of the most important lessons from the Spectator/YouGov poll is the growing chasm between the views of large portions of the chattering classes, including most of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, and the views of the population at large.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the public's extraordinary dismissal of civil libertarian arguments.
But it isn't all good news:
However, in one crucial respect the findings of the poll make dreadful reading for the hawks and supporters of Tony Blair's close alliance with the White House. When offered the choice of maintaining the close relationship with the US, switching to closer links with Europe or an unspecified third course of action (which could be an independent foreign policy), the public turned en masse against America. A mere 14 per cent of respondents believe that Britain should continue to align herself closely with the US, against 45 per cent who said that we should position ourselves closer to Europe instead, and 27 per cent who support neither option.
Thomas Lifson 8 22 06