Bucolic Brits Blame Blair for Busted Bombing

by David Weigel

Would-be terrorists plan to bomb British planes. British cops catch the plotters before they can act. Support for the government's anti-terror policies... uh, plummets. The mostly unimpressive UK Conservative party has raced to a 9-point lead over Tony Blair's Labour government, and the busted bomb plot is fingered as the reason. (Leads don't mean too much; Elections won't be held until 2009 or 2010.)

The Tories have gained over the last month while support for Labour has fallen heavily in the wake of the recent alleged terror plot against airlines. An overwhelming majority of voters appear to pin part of the blame for the increased threat on Tony Blair's policy of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ministers - including Mr Blair - have repeatedly denied that there is a connection. But 72%, including 65% of Labour voters, think government policy has made Britain more of a target for terrorists. Only 1% of voters believe the government's foreign policy has made Britain safer, a devastating finding given that action in Iraq and Afghanistan has been justified in part to defeat Islamist terrorism.

A measly 20 percent of Britons think the government is telling the truth about the breaking up of the plot.

The Bush administration hasn't experienced any popularity dives after a thwarted terrorist threat. The Iraq war has always been more popular and more successfully linked to 9/11 here; in the UK, it was completely seen as a war of choice. But in the last year or so, news of foiled terrorist attacks have given Republicans weaker and weaker bursts of support, like diluted drugs hitting a long time junkie's bloodstream. Check out the way USA Today spins a post-airplane plot Bush rating of 42 percent as a solid comeback. After Saddam was captured in 2003, Bush spiked from 52 to 58 percent.

(Cross-posted at Hit and Run.)