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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 May, 2003, 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK
Dalyell's 'Jewish cabal' remarks denied
Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell is a consistent maverick

Downing Street has attacked Labour MP Tam Dalyell after he complained of a "cabal of Jewish advisers" unduly influencing Tony Blair.

Mr Dalyell made the remarks in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, identifying Lord Levy, Tony Blair's Middle East envoy, Peter Mandelson, whose father is Jewish, and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who has Jewish ancestry, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The MP for Linlithgow is a consistent maverick who has already been criticised for "unpatriotic" remarks over the war in Iraq.

Downing Street described his latest controversial remarks about the role of advisers in the prime minister's Middle East policy as "ludicrous".

In most dictionaries, the word cabal is defined in terms of plots or conspiracies, or secret political cliques or factions, and is derived from the Kabbalah, the Jewish tradition of mysticism.

Mr Dalyell denied his remarks were anti-Semitic.

Apart from the fact that I am not actually Jewish, I wear my father's parentage with pride
Peter Mandelson

"I am fully aware that one is treading on cut glass on this issue and no-one wants to be accused of anti-Semitism, but, if it is a question of launching an assault on Syria or Iran... then one has to be candid," he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Dalyell told the newspaper said he believed the prime minister was also indirectly influenced by Jewish people in the Bush administration, including Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Ari Fleischer, the President's press secretary.

Mr Blair was "very sympathetic" to them, he said.

A spokesman for Mr Straw said: "These remarks are too unworthy to be worth a comment."

Unfounded comments

Mr Mandelson told the paper: "Apart from the fact that I am not actually Jewish, I wear my father's parentage with pride. As for Tam, he is as incorrigible as ever."

Lord Janner, a Labour peer and chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "These comments are sad and unfounded.

"Tony Blair is his own man. He will follow advice if he considers it correct and not otherwise. He has been a good friend of the Jewish people and the Jewish state."

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for Britain's Reform Synagogues, pointed out that Bush's inner circle was dominated by evangelical Christians rather than Jewish advisers.

Ned Temko, the American-born editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said: "These sort of comments are offensive and are a profound misunderstanding of the way foreign policy is made."

Dalyell kicked out of Commons
10 Feb 03  |  Politics
Profile: Tam Dalyell
10 Feb 03  |  Politics
MP berates Blair's leadership
07 Jun 02  |  Politics

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