Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Growing Support for the War on Taliban as UK Deaths Rise; Family's Tribute to 'Larger Than Life' London Soldier among Eight Killed in 24 Hours in Afghanistan

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Growing Support for the War on Taliban as UK Deaths Rise; Family's Tribute to 'Larger Than Life' London Soldier among Eight Killed in 24 Hours in Afghanistan

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham, Rebecca Lowe and Benedict Moore-Bridger

PUBLIC support for the war in Afghanistan has risen despite the recent surge in British fatalities and controversy about the equipment given to troops, an opinion poll showed today.

The ICM survey revealed that the proportion of the public backing the conflict had risen to 46 per cent -15 points up on the figure two years ago.

The growth in support means that overall public opinion, which was previously hostile to the war, is now evenly split with the 47 per cent who remain opposed now only fractionally ahead of those backing continuing British involvement.

Today's poll, for the Guardian and the BBC, also shows that opinion is divided on whether Britain should pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

A total of 42 per cent say they want instant withdrawal - virtually identical to the figure when ICM last asked the question in 2006 - while 14 per cent want the troops to come home by the end of this year. By contrast, 36 per cent want British troops to remain for as long as they are needed.

The findings came as the family and friends of a London soldier - one of eight British troops killed in 24 hours last week - described his death as an "utter tragedy" that had left them devastated.

Rifleman Daniel Simpson, from C Company, 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, was killed by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol near Sangin in the south-erprovince of Helmand. The 20-yearold, from Croydon, had an eight-month-old son named Alfie. His parents, Deborah and Robert, and two brothers Jimmy and Lee issued a statement saying: "Danny was a larger than life character, sometimes a bit of a handful and always full of surprises.

"He was a strong team player who was fiercely loyal to his friends and could be relied on to be there whenever he was needed. The world will be a quieter place without him."

Rifleman Simpson joined up in August 2007. He attended Monks Orchard Primary School and Edenham High School, and played football for Stanhope and West Ham as a teenager. …

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