This month, the lead topical question in our survey was about under what conditions Conservative members would support militarily returning to Afghanistan. Aside from ‘None of the above’ and ‘Don’t know’, these were the four options:
- ‘We should attempt large-scale military intervention in Afghanistan in concert with our allies, with the aim of installing a government allied to the West’
- ‘In the event of Afghanistan-based terror attacks on the UK, we should attempt large-scale military intervention in Afghanistan with our allies, with the aim of installing a government allied to the West’
- ‘In the event of Afghanistan-based terror attacks on the UK, we should attempt smaller-scale military intervention with our allies, through special forces with air support, aimed at terrorist bases’
- ‘We should not attempt military intervention in Afghanistan of any kind’
As the above charts makes clear, there is little appetite for another full-scape campaign with regime change as the goal: intervening now secured fewer than four per cent of the vote, and doing so in response to another terror attack just under seven per cent.
Likewise, just 12 per cent supported the proposition that the United Kingdom should hold back from any intervention in Afghanistan, even in the event that terrorists trained or sponsored by the Islamic Emirate (or tolerated by the same) launch an attack on British soil.
Instead, almost three quarters of our panellists agree that in the event of a future attack, the UK should respond by deploying special forces and aerial attacks to target bases and other infrastructure inside the country, without resorting to a wholesale invasion.
That’s an overwhelming result, especially in light of the fact that only two per cent picked ‘None of the above’, which suggests the panel were content that we had presented a reasonable range of options. It also seems likely to be about where the public are: no time for the old neocon dream, but little truck for the idea that this country should not defend itself if attacked.