Labour split deepens over war

By Graham DinesPolitical EditorTHE yawning split over Iraq in the Labour Party has deepened in East Anglia with MPs and constituency activists insisting war must be sanctioned by the United Nations.

By Graham Dines

Political Editor

THE yawning split over Iraq in the Labour Party has deepened in East Anglia with MPs and constituency activists insisting war must be sanctioned by the United Nations.

As the Prime Minister battles to control his party after International Development Secretary Clare Short called him "irresponsible" and with Russia saying it would definitely veto a second UN resolution, there seems little enthusiasm for military intervention.

Chris Mole, the MP for Ipswich who voted against the Government in the Commons three weeks ago, believes it is more vital than ever that there should be a second UN resolution.

"The UN route is the obvious way forward. If a majority vote for war in the Security Council is vetoed by just one county, then I might be open to persuasion on supporting war," he said.

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"If there is more than one veto, then I would be struggling to understand how we could possible launch an attack on Iraq."

Harwich MP Ivan Henderson would have to resign as Parliamentary Private Secretary to two ministers in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister if he sticks to his line that "I would be unwilling to support military action without a further UN resolution".

Mr Henderson said: "The only circumstance that I can presently envisage that would possibly alter my position would be if a veto was used to prevent such a resolution, when the weight of evidence judged that the Iraqi regime was in breach of previous resolutions."

Bob Blizzard, the Waveney MP who is Parliamentary Private Secretary to work and pensions minister Ian McCartney, declined to say what he would do if the Security Council route was blocked by either a majority vote against or a veto.

"I believe that the problem of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction should be dealt with through the United Nations. War should be the last resort and would need to be authorised by the UN," he added.

"I hope the UN takes its responsibility seriously so that it retains its credibility. I don't want a war, but neither do I want Saddam Hussein to retain his weapons."

Braintree MP Alan Hurst remains the most loyal supporter of Prime Minister Tony Blair, but even he felt a second UN resolution was essential.

"Saddam is an evil man, he must be disarmed and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to pursue a second United Nations resolution. I believe he can be successful," he said.

But party activists are in uproar over the increasing likelihood of conflict with Iraq.

Dave Canning, chairman of Colchester constituency Labour Party, said: "We do not believe a war would be justified without a formal United Nations resolution.

"In the case of a majority in the Security Council supporting action, but a veto is applied, we still oppose it."

The Labour-dominated Ipswich Borough Council has already backed a Liberal-Democrat sponsored resolution that "recourse to war should only be as a last resort".

The council recognised "political and diplomatic channels have not yet

been exhausted and does not support any military action unless sanctioned

by a resolution of the United Nations Security Council".

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