New Statesman – 1 November 1985
Like Bruce Kent (Letters, 25 October), I was intrigued by the CND's recent Gallup Poll apparently showing that '46 percent of the British people oppose a defence policy relying on the possible use of nuclear weapons'. Did it really mean, as Bruce claims, that 'the tide is moving in [CND's] direction'?
So I commissioned Gallup to ask simply whether 'Britain should or should not continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as the Soviet Union has them'. The overall result showed 68 percent in favour of continued possession of them under these circumstances, 26 percent opposed to it, and 6 percent undecided. Labour voters favoured retention by 49 percent to 44 percent, and Liberal voters by 75 percent to 19 percent.
It would thus appear that CND's more favourable result for unilateralism derived from the re-formulation of its poll question – not from any shift whatsoever in public opinion.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Director, Policy Research Associates,