Majority support Blair over hostage crisis - poll

 

More than one in three Britons say Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair should resign over the Iraq war but a clear majority do not blame him for the beheading of a British hostage in Iraq, an opinion poll showed today.

In the first comprehensive sounding taken since the death of Kenneth Bigley, the YouGov poll in the Mail on Sundayshowed 36 per cent of voters wanted Blair to step down.

But 65 per cent said he was not to blame for Mr Bigley's beheading by militants in Iraq, while 59 per cent believed the  government had done everything it could to secure the engineer's release.

Mr Bigley's hometown of Liverpool staged a day of mourning for him yesterday and Mr Blair phoned the family to offer his condolences.

Coming soon after a report from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which destroyed Mr Blair's main argument for waging war on Iraq, the killing looks certain to keep Iraq at the top of the political agenda seven months before an expected election.
  
 Up to 58 per cent of those polled by YouGov said they believed the conflict in Iraq had undermined the health of Mr Blair, who underwent an operation on October 1st to stop heart palpitations.

Mr   Blair has said he will stand for a third term but will not stand for a fourth, an announcement that has aroused fevered speculation over who might succeed him.