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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 February, 2004, 18:18 GMT
Anti-war protest at conference
First Minister Jack McConnell
The demonstration could be heard as Jack McConnell spoke
Several thousand anti-war protesters converged on Scottish Labour's annual conference to voice their disapproval over the war with Iraq.

The group marched through Inverness before massing outside the Eden Court Theatre.

Labour MSP Elaine Smith urged her colleagues to rise up against "pre-emptive imperialist wars".

Green, Socialist and Scottish National Party MSPs joined Labour members in the protest.

Drums, horns and loudspeakers of the protesters could be heard inside parts of the conference venue as First Minister Jack McConnell delivered his keynote speech.

Mrs Smith said: "We heard Tony Blair making the bizarre statement in his speech to the conference that we've had the biggest ever growth in peacetime - well I think somebody ought to remind Tony that we've had various wars since he's been the prime minister.

"His idea of peacetime and my idea of peacetime are obviously quite different."

Protesters gathered outside the conference
Referring to the Iraq conflict, the Coatbridge and Chryston MSP added: "I think it's absolutely atrocious and what has to happen is that members of the Labour Party have to rise up against this and get democracy back to the party.

"We were told the war was for democracy and freedom and now we see a world that is far more unstable.

"How is it that we are supposed to be living in a safer world but that world is now littered with cluster bombs, mines and depleted uranium?

"That's not a safe world. It's not the kind of world that I want to live in and it's not the kind of world that the Labour Party should be striving for."

Mrs Smith said she and other protesters would be keeping up their momentum and programme of demonstrations.

SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson attacked what he called the "Bush/Blair imperialism" for endangering world peace.

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