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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Blair speech draws Lib Dem crowds
Liberal Democrat delegates
Liberal Democrats gather around the BBC stand
More than 100 Liberal Democrats abandoned conference speeches to listen to Tony Blair's assessment of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Delegates poured out of the conference hall to gather around a BBC display where the parliamentary statement was being broadcast live.


Mr Blair has been unfairly judged on the action he has taken in relation to the US

Richard Grundy
Liberal Democrat
There was much shaking of heads, either in disbelief at the prime minister's claims or because they believe military action is inevitable.

Some delegates moved away as Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith got up to speak, but there were cheers and a round of applause when it was Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy's turn.

One of those watching the proceedings from the Brighton conference was Richard Grundy, a delegate from Bath.

'Right attitude'

He said he was impressed with all three party leaders.

"It has confirmed my view," he said. "I have felt that Mr Blair has been unfairly judged on the action he has taken in relation to the US.

"I felt that as a trusted friend and ally that he was able to exert a moderating influence on Mr Bush and I feel justified in that view."

Gail Coleshill
Gail Coleshill hopes Mr Blair's words will be broadcast in Iraq
He said he felt "the right sort of attitude" was being adopted over Iraq.

Alex Leaney, a voluntary worker from Haywards Heath, said he believed the 55-page dossier, which outlines the alleged threat posed by Iraq's weapons programmes, was "pretty comprehensive".

'Bluff might work'

"We have got to see what action the government is going to take," he said.

"I'm concerned but I think we should do something about Iraq."

Gail Coleshill, a teacher and case worker to Liberal Democrat MP David Heath, said she was pleased Mr Blair had finally outlined the evidence against Saddam.

Alex Leaney
Mr Leaney: Believes dossier is 'comprehensive'
"I am hopeful that what Mr Blair has said will be broadcast in the areas where it is important, ie Iraq and in the Arab countries.

"I hope they will see that if action isn't taken to allow the UN inspectors to examine the evidence and get rid of the weapons of mass destruction then some action will be taken.

"May be it is bluff and counter bluff but if it works to prevent war, I am all for it."

Other tyrants

Ann Moore, a delegate from Bexhill and Battle, East Sussex, said Mr Blair' speech and the dossier had done little to change her concerns about possible action against Iraq.

"The interesting thing that struck me is there is no reference in the speech or in the dossier to Iraq being a home of al-Qaeda. That is a key point for me.

"Why target Iraq when there are so many other tyrants in the world?

"They have made this offer about inspectors and you really have to take that step first because of the inflammatory effect on the Middle East."

'No killer facts'

Robert Wright, from Birmingham, said, however, that it was clear something had to be done about Saddam.

But he added: "The first step must be the weapons inspectors and through the United Nations.

"There certainly does not seem to be anything in the dossier which amounts to a killer fact, something we didn't know before."

But a Lib Dem party worker, from Cambridge, who did not want to be named, said he was surprised the dossier disclosed that Saddam was one or two years off building a nuclear weapon if he manages to obtain weapons-grade material from abroad.

"I thought nuclear weapons from Iraq were imminent," he said.

"At least this gives us some time to work out a peaceful or non peaceful solution," he added.


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See also:

24 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Sep 02 | Panorama
11 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Sep 02 | Middle East
23 Sep 02 | Europe
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