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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Blair: I'm not the wobbling sort
Tony Blair on BBC Breakfast with Frost
Blair says he is restless to do more
Tony Blair has vowed not to buckle in the face of protests over Iraq and denied claims he considered quitting.

Quizzed over reports he was on the verge of resigning earlier this year, he said: "I'm not the wobbling sort."

The prime minister also refused to apologise over the Iraq war insisting that to pull UK troops out now would be surrendering to terrorists.

But delegates at Labour's conference in Brighton have forced a debate on "Britain's role in Iraq".

'Future of Britain'

It was voted for in a ballot of ordinary party members and will be discussed on Thursday during a wider session on Britain in the World.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett denied the vote was a blow to Mr Blair, who wanted to focus on domestic issues.

"It was always expected there would be discussion about Iraq at party conference," she told Sky News.

"But it is true that we want to spend most of our time talking about this week is the future of Britain itself."

'Intelligence unreliable'

The government is already under severe pressure over the plight of British hostage Ken Bigley.

Mr Bigley's brother Paul is expected to speak at an anti-war fringe meeting in Brighton on Sunday.

Kenneth Bigley, British hostage

The prime minister told BBC Breakfast with Frost he felt sympathy with the hostage's personal appeals and anger against his kidnappers.

Mr Blair admitted some of the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war had proved unreliable but defended the conflict.

"What some people want me to do is to say sorry for getting rid of Saddam and that I cannot say because I do not believe it," he said.

Hunt vote

As well as anti-war protests, thousands of hunting campaigners are set to march in Brighton on Tuesday to demonstrate against the planned hunting ban.

CONTROVERSIAL DEBATES
Possible emergency motion on Iraq
Calls for voting age to be lowered to 16
Proposals for more democratic House of Lords
Changes to councils' borrowing rights for housing

They began their demonstrations by barricading Leader of the House of Commons Peter Hain into his south Wales home on Saturday.

Asked why he had not voted on the issue in Parliament this month, Mr Blair said: "There was a compromise proposal last year and that was the one I backed."

'Restless'

The conference follows the government reshuffle that saw Alan Milburn appointed Labour's election co-ordinator.

Past election campaigns have been run by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Mr Blair insisted Mr Brown would play the same role as he always had, but was not specific about what that would be.

Hunting protests outside Parliament earlier this year
Blair faces more hunting protests on Tuesday

Mr Blair said he was "restless to do more and do better".

He highlighted issues such as asylum, drugs, crime and organised crime and reforming the education system.

"We have got a very strong economy. We have got massive investment going into our public services but there's still a massive amount to do," he went on.

The prime minister said his party had proposals on pensions, childcare and measures to help first-time buyers and tackle youth unemployment.

'Out of touch'

But his words failed to impress Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, who said: "The prime minister gives every impression of being seriously out of touch with the genuine concerns over Iraq."

And Tory chairman Liam Fox derided confusion over what was running Labour's election campaign.

"With an ongoing war in Iraq, the countryside in chaos and public services failing to improve, the public are getting extremely fed up with the selfish bickering of Labour Party leaders," he said.

Mr Blair insists that he had not been disheartened by recent setbacks.

"I think the irony of my position is that I'm sort of less popular and more capable," he told the Observer newspaper.

He said: "It happens with all governments. There is disillusion and disappointment. That's politics.

"What you've got to do in those circumstances is not buckle under it, but go out and make your case."

Labour chairman Ian McCartney opened the conference, where security is tight, by telling delegates not to take another election victory for granted.

"We must ensure that with every step we take we must inspire our supporters by connecting with their lives, their family and their community," he said.

Thousands of campaigners joined a Trade Justice Movement march to demand fairer trade on Sunday.

Some of their concerns may be addressed at the conference by Mr Brown who is due to tell delegates how Britain is writing off its share of debt owed by the world's poorest countries to the World Bank.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Mr Blair tried to quash the persistant speculation about his own future"



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