60% believe Iraq war spending 'a waste'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Sixty per cent of people think Government spending on the war on Iraq was "a waste of money", and should have been spent on overseas aid, a new poll shows. The survey shows that most Britons would have preferred the billions spent on invading and occupying Iraq to be channelled towards helping the world's poor.

Sixty per cent of people think Government spending on the war on Iraq was "a waste of money", and should have been spent on overseas aid, a new poll shows. The survey shows that most Britons would have preferred the billions spent on invading and occupying Iraq to be channelled towards helping the world's poor.

Women were particularly angry about the use of taxpayers' money to invade Iraq. Two-thirds of women believe the money set aside for Iraq should have been spent on aid, according to the YouGov poll. The Government has reserved £3.8bn for the Iraq war but some estimate the war and occupation could cost the British taxpayer up to £6bn.

The poll comes as world leaders gathered today at the G8 meeting of leading industrialised nations in the state of Georgia, in the United States.

The YouGov poll also shows that Tony Blair's foreign and domestic policies are unpopular with majority of Britons. Fifty-seven per cent of people disapprove of the Government's international policies while 51 per cent disapprove of his domestic agenda.

The poll, commissioned by the charities Oxfam, ActionAid, Christian Aid, DATA and Save the Children, could not come at a worst time for the Prime Minister as he fights to defend his stance on Iraq ahead of this week's elections. He acknowledged on Sunday that Iraq would prove to be a "problem" for Labour in this week's European, local and London elections.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said Iraq was a cloud over the election campaign. The Yougov poll, which involved interviews of over 2000 adults throughout the UK, found that disapproval of Labour's policy on Iraq could seriously affect turnout.

It found that an increased commitment to overseas aid would persuade more young people not to stay at home. One-in-six 18- to 29-year-olds would be more likely to vote in a general election if it would benefit people in poor countries.

Charities campaigning on aid issues yesterday said Mr Blair's decision to spend money on a military invasion rather than help poor nations showed a skewed set of priorities. "This isn't just aid agencies complaining. It's what voters want," said Justin Forsyth, Oxfam's director of policy and campaigns.

Aid agencies said that cash could have lifted 2.7 million people in the third world out of poverty permanently. And Britain's aid budget would have doubled if the amount reserved for the Iraq war had been earmarked for development.

According to Oxfam, the amount the UK set aside for the war could have been used to set up 860,00 schools or 5.8 million water wells in the third world.

Although Mr Blair has personally pledged to do more to help Africa, the debt relief delivered by rich countries to Africa is less than 1 per cent of the amount that the coalition spent on the Iraq war. The cost of buying five stealth bombers, around $1bn (£550m) each, could get all the world's 100 million children not inn school into education. "For the money the British Government has committed to the Iraq war we could have doubled aid," said Matt Phillips of Save the Children.

Comments