Majority of Iraqis say life is better without Saddam

Small majority of Britons also supports Blair's decision to go to war
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A large majority of Iraqis believe life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to an opinion poll released today.

A large majority of Iraqis believe life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to an opinion poll released today.

Almost half (49 per cent) of those questioned believe the invasion of their country by US and UK troops was right, compared with 39 per cent who said it was wrong.

Meanwhile, a separate poll of British opinion suggested that a slim majority - 48 per cent to 43 per cent - now supported UK involvement in the war.

Some 40 per cent of respondents to the UK poll for BBC2's Newsnight said that Tony Blair and his government exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war, and 22 per cent that they lied about WMD, against 29 per cent who said they told the truth.

But the survey found that more Britons would trust Mr Blair (32 per cent) to take a decision on future military action than Conservative leader Michael Howard (22 per cent) or the Lib Dems' Charles Kennedy (17 per cent).

A total of 2,500 Iraqis were questioned for a group of international broadcasting organisations, including the BBC, in a poll to mark the first anniversary of the outbreak of war.

Some 57 per cent said that life was better now than under Saddam, against 19 per cent who said it was worse and 23 per cent who said it was about the same.

Iraqi people appeared optimistic about the future, with 71 per cent saying they expected things to be better in a year's time, 6 per cent predicting it will be worse and 9 per cent the same.

Overall, 70 per cent said that life was good now, compared with 29 per cent who said it was bad.

Some 85 per cent identified restoration of public security as a major priority, against 30 per cent who wanted elections for a national government and 28 per cent an economic revival.

Just a quarter said they had confidence in coalition forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders (70 per cent), local police (68 per cent) and the new Iraqi army (56 per cent).

More than half (51 per cent) were opposed to the continued presence of coalition forces in Iraq, against 39 per cent who supported it.

Almost a fifth of those questioned (17 per cent) said that attacks on coalition forces were acceptable, while 14 per cent said the same about attacks on the civilian administrators of the Coalition Provisional Authority and 10 per cent on foreigners working with the CPA.

Asked what political system they believed was needed in their country, 86 per cent said they wanted democracy, but 81 per cent said a single strong Iraqi leader.

Opinion was evenly split on whether the invasion of Iraq had humiliated (41 per cent) or liberated (42 per cent) the country.

ICM interviewed 1,014 British adults between 10 and 12 March for BBC2's Iraq One Year On - A Newsnight Special at 9pm tonight.

Oxford Research International interviewed 2,500 Iraqis between 10 and 28 February for the broadcasting organisations BBC, ABC News, ARD and NHK.