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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Blair faces flak over Iraq stance
Tony Blair and George Bush
Blair has 'thrown in his lot' with Bush, says Galloway
Tony Blair was accused of giving a "shallow, Readers' Digest" account of the realities in the Middle East as he gave his clearest message yet that Saddam Hussein had to be toppled.

Labour left-winger George Galloway, a staunch critic of potential military strikes against Iraq, claimed the British people were deeply anxious about "being driven this close to a cliff".


Blair, in a shallow 'Reader's Digest' account of the realities in the Middle East, has declared for war

George Galloway
His reaction to Mr Blair's warning that the "real and unique" posed by Iraq had to be tackled, was in stark contrast to Conservative support for his stance.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram's welcomed Mr Blair's "strong and positive" message and hoped he could also show the backing of his cabinet for action.

But Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell warned that Mr Blair had still to convince a sceptical public.

'Betrayal'

Mr Galloway, who visited Saddam Hussein in Iraq last month, said: "The prime minister's comments on Iraq were profoundly disappointing and will have dismayed huge numbers of Labour supporters.

"The prime minister has thrown in his lot with the most right-wing faction of the Republican administration in Washington, betraying even the Colin Powell wing which had been looking for a way out short of invasion and war.

"Blair, in a shallow 'Reader's Digest' account of the realities in the Middle East, has declared for war and the Labour movement and the British public will have to act quickly if they are to stop him.

"The overwhelming majority of British people are deeply anxious about being driven this close to a cliff by a president like Mr Bush.

"They will not have been reassured watching the British prime minister climb into his customary back seat," Mr Galloway added.

War fears

The Glasgow Kelvin MP's verbal assault could be seen as indicative of the concerns and dissents within the Parliamentary Labour Party about the prospect of military action against Iraq.


Mr Blair should take note of British public opinion and come down off the fence

Bob Crow
Tam Dalyell, Labour's longest serving MP, said Mr Blair's perceived commitment to oust Saddam Hussein was a further reason for Parliament to be recalled early to debate the issue.

Meanwhile, Bob Crow, general secretary of the rail union RMT, argued that the British people did not want war with Iraq.

"Mr Blair should take note of British public opinion and come down off the fence.

"RMT members see the services they are trying to provide crumbling through lack of investment, while the government is considering spending tens of millions of pounds on death and destruction. This is criminal madness.

"Mr Blair, as Bush's closest ally, should urge the US President to call off his dogs of war and tell him that the use of US bases in Britain to launch an attack against Iraq would be unacceptable.

"I would not be surprised if US bases used to attack Iraq were surrounded by thousands of people demanding that they stop."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Click here to watch the news conference
Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram
"I support what he said"
Lib Dem foreign affairs spksman Menzies Campbell
"We need evidence"

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IN PICTURES

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THE IRAQ DOSSIER
See also:

03 Sep 02 | Politics
03 Sep 02 | Politics
03 Sep 02 | Middle East
03 Sep 02 | Politics
02 Sep 02 | Africa
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