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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 12:35 GMT
Kennedy faces 'appeaser' attack
Nicholas Soames MP
Nicholas Soames: "It's just appeasement"
A senior Conservative MP and former defence minister has condemned Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy as an "appeaser" of Saddam Hussein.

The best impression that I've heard of Neville Chamberlain in many, many years ... He is an appeaser

Nicholas Soames on Charles Kennedy
Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, likened Mr Kennedy to Neville Chamberlain - the British prime minister who went down in history as the leader who failed to recognise the threat from Adolf Hitler.

Mr Soames described Mr Kennedy's questioning of the increasing momentum to war with Iraq as "the best impression that I've heard of Neville Chamberlain in many, many years".

In an interview with BBC News Online, the former defence minister said he hoped war could still be avoided "but I think my party is right to support the government on this".

"I hope the country will close ranks behind he servicemen when and if they go to war."

'Playing politics'

So far, however, the British public has remained in tune with the Lib Dem leader's deep scepticism about the rush to war.

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy: Persistent critic of the government's line
In contrast, he faced catcalls in the House of Commons this week when he questioned Tony Blair's handling of the case against Saddam Hussein.

"I think he is an appeaser," said Mr Soames. "The Liberals have always been appeasers - and you cannot appease what is happening."

"There is an absolutely irrevocable case for doing this," he insisted. "This will not be a war of conquest, this will be a war of liberation."

Serious

The Lib Dem leadership was guilty of dangerously "playing politics", according to Mr Soames.

"This is now the endgame and Kennedy should grow up and realise that this is something very serious indeed."

He dismissed the notion that Mr Kennedy, alone among the mainstream party leaders in questioning the looming war, was fulfilling a vital democratic role by being the sole dissonant voice in the mainstream.

Mr Soames insisted: "There's nothing dissonant about it. It's just appeasement."

An aide to the Lib Dem leader described Mr Soames' attack as "a totally bizarre characterisation of Mr Kennedy's position".


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05 Feb 03 | Politics
06 Feb 03 | Middle East
19 Jan 03 | Politics
15 Jan 03 | Politics
29 Aug 02 | Politics
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