By Charles Laurence
Daily Telegraph – 25 October 1985
A clear majority believe that Britain should keep nuclear weapons as long as the Russians have them, according to a Gallup poll published today. The poll showed that 68 percent favoured maintaining the British bomb, with 52 percent also in favour of keeping American cruise missiles in this country, whether or not the Russians dismantle their SS20 missiles.
The poll was commissioned by Policy Research Associates, a Right-wing pressure group devoted to countering the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other anti-nuclear organisations.
Last month, Gallup conducted a poll for CND which appeared to show that more people were against maintaining a nuclear arsenal than in favour of it, with 46 percent opposed to "a British defence policy based on the possible use of nuclear weapons", and 40 percent in favour of such a policy.
Bias in question
Dr Julian Lewis, director of Policy Research Associates, said yesterday that the apparent contradiction in the polls was a result of bias in the CND question. It had been devised to imply that keeping nuclear weapons meant using them.
Miss Meg Beresford, who has replaced Mgr Bruce Kent as general secretary of CND, made the same accusation against Dr Lewis, saying that his Gallup question had been devised to imply a threat from Russian missiles.
"The CND poll illustrates that if you ask a tendentious question, you get a misleading answer. As our poll shows clearly, the weight of public opinion is as much against British unilateral disarmament as ever," said Dr Lewis.
Miss Beresford said: "I don't agree that our question was biased. Dr Lewis's question emphasises the Russian threat and shows that it is possible to influence the results in an opinion poll by the way the question is worded."
Sample of 976
The Gallup study published yesterday was conducted between Oct. 9 and 14 among a sample of 976.
Replies to the question: "Do you think that Britain should or should not continue to possess nuclear weapons as long as the Soviet Union has them?" were:
Should: 68 percent
Should not: 26 percent
Don't know: 6 percent
Among Conservative voters, 83 percent answered ‘should,’ with 12 percent ‘should not,’ and five percent ‘don't know’.
Among Labour voters, 49 percent polled believed Britain should keep its missiles, with 44 percent saying that the country should not, and eight percent answering ‘don't know’.
Replies to the question: "Do you think that Britain should or should not remove cruise nuclear missiles from this country, whether or not the Soviet Union dismantles its SS-20 nuclear missiles?" were:
Should: 35 percent
Should not: 52 percent
Don't know: 12 percent
Lord Chalfont, chairman of the All Party Defence Group in the House of Lords, said:
"This result dramatically confirms what the advocates of cruise deployment said all along, that once the missiles were safely installed, the public would clearly see through the scare-mongering tactics of CND to recognise that countering the SS-20 threat would strengthen peace and security."
'Degrees of fairness'
Mr Bob Wybrow, Gallup director who organised both Dr Lewis' and the CND's polls, said that poll results could be influenced by "the addition of the odd word here or there". The key words in the CND poll were "based on the possible use" of nuclear weapons, while in Dr Lewis's poll they were simply "Soviet Union".
"Here we have two questions that are not grossly biased, but there are degrees of fairness. We will not ask a question that is obviously biased," said Mr Wybrow.
CND is to hold its first major rally through the centre of London for 18 months on Saturday. More than 250,000 supporters are expected to march under the banner ‘Human Race – or Nuclear Race’.
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'CRUISE FINDS FAVOUR WITH 52%'
by Rodney Cowton, Defence Correspondent
The Times – 25 October 1985
Most people in Britain favour the retaining of cruise missiles in Britain.
That is revealed in an opinion poll conducted this month by Gallup for Policy Research Associates, a London-based political consultancy. In opinion polls taken shortly before the deployment of cruise missiles at Greenham Common two years ago, about half of those polled were against deployment.
In the latest poll nearly 1,000 people were asked: "Do you think that Britain should or should not remove cruise nuclear missiles from this country, whether or not the Soviet Union dismantles its SS20 nuclear missiles?"
Only 35 percent of those polled answered that the missiles should be removed, while 52 percent said they should not. There were 12 percent 'don't knows’.
When views are related to political voting intentions, the poll shows that only Labour supporters have a majority (46 percent) in favour of removal.
In spite of the fact that it is official Liberal Party policy to have the missiles withdrawn, the poll shows that of Liberals included in the poll 55 percent were against their removal.
Of those who give their intention to vote SDP or 'Alliance', without specifying whether that is Liberal or SDP, 52 percent said that cruise missiles should not be withdrawn.
In response to a question asking whether Britain should continue to possess nuclear weapons so long as the Soviet Union has them, 68 percent of the total sample thought they should be retained.
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'68% BACK BOMB'
Sun – 25 October 1985
Nearly seven out of ten people are in favour of Britain having nuclear weapons, according to a Gallup Poll. The figures are 68 percent for, 26 percent against and six percent undecided. Among Labour voters 49 percent were in favour and 44 percent against.