'Perverse' Blair stifles Iraq debate

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Posted by andreas from p3EE3C5B3.dip.t-dialin.net ( on Sunday, November 24, 2002 at 4:55AM :

The Independent (UK)

'Perverse' Blair stifles Iraq debate

By Jo Dillon, Deputy Political Editor
24 November 2002

Tony Blair's government stands charged with being "somewhere between perverse and hypocritical" in its attempts to stifle dissent in tomorrow's Commons debate on Iraq.

A broad consensus of Labour MPs ranging from those opposed on principle to war against Saddam Hussein to others anxious that action is taken only with United Nations agreement have faced heavy lobbying by cabinet ministers and government whips ahead of the debate.

Many are angry that the Government in concert with the Conservative front bench has agreed a motion whose wording does not allow MPs to vote against it without appearing to be hostile to the UN process of weapons inspections. There is further fury about alleged attempts to prevent amendments being made that would allow opponents to voice their objections to an American-led war, particularly without the consent of the international community.

Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham South, said this would probably be the last time Parliament was able to give its view on threatened military action before it actually happened. "It seems somewhere between perverse and hypocritical to be talking about the need for war on Iraq in the name of democratic rights when the last thing they are prepared to do as a government is practise them," he said.

-- andreas
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