Brits Move To Dump Blair

By Mark Burdman
Executive Intelligence Review

After a day, Feb. 15, which saw the largest political demonstration ever in London, with two million marchers protesting plans for a war in Iraq, and with tens of thousands marching in Glasgow and Belfast, moves gathered pace, among leading circles in the ruling Labour Party and elsewhere, for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be dumped, as soon as that can be arranged.
With all signs pointing to the Bush Administration being fully committed to an Iraq war, in the weeks immediately ahead, the dumping of Blair, the Administration's main ally for the war drive, might well be the one qualitative event, that would knock the war off course.
Blair is reeling, not only from the mass demonstrations inside Britain, but from his isolation, in the international political-diplomatic arena. On Feb. 14, nations representing a large percentage of humanity, spoke out during the United Nations Security Council debate that followed the report by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix -- a report that, itself, was a slap in the face to Washington and London -- against a rush to war against Iraq. Then, on Feb. 17, the insistence by Blair and his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, for an overt threat of short-term war against Iraq was rejected by European Union leaders, at an emergency EU summit called by Greece, the country currently occupying the rotating EU Presidency.
Blair returned to Britain, with his tail between his legs. He tried to downplay the war rhetoric, during a Feb. 18 press conference, insisting that "there is no rush to war," while sources close to him claimed, on that day, that he would be having a private audience with Pope John Paul II, on Feb. 22. This may be an attempt by Blair to soften his image, but it is questionable, whether even the Holy Father could redeem this corrupted soul. "TONY BLAIR IS FINISHED"
That there are significant efforts in motion, to get rid of him, was confirmed, during a Feb. 16 discussion with Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), by Tam Dalyell, the longest-serving member of the House of Commons (known in Britain as the "Father of the House of Commons"), and the most courageous fighter, against this immoral imperial war. Dalyell's efforts have been highlighted, in recent editions of EIR.
He had attended the spring conference of the Labour Party, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Feb. 15, where Blair had cowardly escaped the 70,000 antiwar demonstrators who had gathered there (see accompanying article). Dalyell proclaimed: "The new situation is, that there are serious people, who are serious about dumping Tony Blair. A lot of people want him out." He added the qualification, that the complexity of inner-Labour Party rules made this somewhat problematic, technically speaking, but stressed that the desire and intent to get rid of Blair is growing qualitatively, within Labour ranks.
This was confirmed, the next day, by British Labour parliamentarian Alice Mahon, Dalyell's closest collaborator in antiwar efforts, within the House of Commons. She was quoted, on the front-page of the Feb. 17 London Guardian, insisting that a leadership challenge to Blair will be mounted, within Labour, if he refuses to allow more time for weapons inspections in Iraq, and insists on rushing to war: "Yes, of course, people are talking. There's no point in denying that."
Then, on Feb. 18, the Labour-linked London Daily Mirror, ran a strongly worded article, by Whitehall Editor Paul Gilfeather, under the headline, "We'll Oust Blair", with a sub-headline that "MPs [Members of Parliament--ed.] plot an antiwar revolt to topple Prime Minister: 'He Won't Listen, He Must Go.'"
Gilfeather stated: "Tony Blair faces a leadership challenge over his plans to attack Iraq. The Daily Mirror has learned of a plot involving disillusioned MPs, peers [Members of the House of Lords --ed.] and union bosses. It would be the first such move against the Premier since he swept to power in 1997. One ringleader said, 'These are firm proposals.'"
The Mirror went on: "The Labour MP, who asked not to be named, added: 'We have the numbers required to mount a challenge. It is now a firm view right across the Labour Party, that Tony Blair is finished, because of his refusal to listen to overwhelming opposition to war with Iraq.'"
Tony Woodley, deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), told the Mirror: "Mr. Blair's in real trouble here."
The Mirror article was accompanied by a photo of a goggle-eyed Blair, with the caption, "FINISHED? Wild-eyed Blair insists he'll follow George Bush to war."
Further adding insult to the Prime Minister, the lead front-page article of the Labour-linked Guardian, on Feb. 18, had a banner headline, "Blair's Popularity Plummets". The article noted that newest poll results show "a rift between Tony Blair and the public over war against Iraq". Blair "has sustained significant political damage" from the Iraq debate, and "his personal rating has dropped through the floor." Support for the war has fallen to 29%, the lowest since these kinds of polls began to be taken, in August 2002. "THE IRAQ ISSUE IS A CATALYST"
Even more precarious for Blair, is the reality, that the demonstrations of Feb. 15 express much more, than only opposition to a war against Iraq, as important as that issue is. The rotten, lying, and "spin"-laden moves by the Blair government respecting Iraq, as well as the extremely bellicose threats and unqualified support for a most dubious American Administration, have become emblematic, for millions of Britons, of a deeper rottenness, characterizing present-day Great Britain.
The point was made by a leading British social-psychology expert, in a background discussion with EIR, on Feb. 17. He stated: "Not since the [night of Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 1997] death of Princess Diana, and the funerals and mass outpourings of deep emotion and anger at established institutions that Britain saw then, has anything been seen here, like we are seeing now, with the mass protests against an Iraq war."
He stressed: "You have to understand, that the Iraq issue is primarily a CATALYST, for something much bigger. There is the EXTERNAL reality, respecting the danger of war, but there is the crucial INTERNAL reality, that much of Britain is COLLAPSING. The health system is a disaster, the road and rail infrastructure is a disaster. So, what you have, with the Iraq issue, is a DOUBLE PROTEST: the OVERT protest, against a war, and the COVERT protest, against the state of Britain."
The expert went on: "You have to understand, that, in Britain, people have been unhappy and angry, for the past 50 years, but protest has been crushed, like with the miners' strikes of the 1970s, sometimes using very subtle methods. But now, this buildup of internal protest, is finding an expression, through the Iraq issue. And this time, the protest, because of the massive presence of mainstream 'Middle England' protesters who are peaceful people, cannot be dispersed by force, or related methods. Were the government now to do something like that, it would seem to be just like the Iraqi and North Korean regimes that are always being criticized."
He emphasized again: "Remember what happened after Diana died. People experienced, through their sadness and other emotions, a reconnection with reality. That is what we are seeing now, but this time, I think we will see more profound, and longer-lasting effects." BLAIRITE PROPAGANDA: "THE REAL SIGN OF DESPERATION"
With their backs to the wall, Blair and his entourage are mounting a flight-forward counter-attack, on three interrelated fronts, all of which have the potential to backfire, and blow up in their faces.
For one, Blair himself, in his Feb. 15 speech to the spring Labour conference in Glasgow, suddenly "shifted the goalposts", and changed the official British government policy, for why it thinks war with Iraq is necessary. Until now, as proclaimed in a number of dubious British government dossiers, Iraq's guilt was that it possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be handed over to terrorist groups, and that it was deceptively concealing this "fact". But on Feb. 15, Blair insisted that "humanity would be better off" without Saddam Hussein, and that this was a fundamental moral issue. This was the first official endorsement, by Blair, of the Bush Administration's "regime change in Iraq" agenda.
Linked to this, is the point stressed to EIR by a number of informed British strategists, and by commentaries in the British press: Blair is desperate for war, as soon as possible, and for that war to be devastating, short, and effective, so that he can neutralize his millions of British detractors, with the sneer, "I was right all along, and you were wrong." Of course, this is an enormously high-risk strategy, as well as being disgusting, morally, and homicidal, in terms of what war would unleash, in Iraq, among its neighbors, and globally.
The third prong of the Blair counter-strategy, is to tar his enemies, with having "blood on their hands", for "supporting Saddam", and, more crudely, as "stooges of Saddam". This propaganda campaign is receiving giant support from the neo-conservative press owned by Rupert Murdoch (Times, Sunday Times, Sun) and Lord Conrad Black's Hollinger Corporation (Spectator magazine, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph), as well as from a handful of "liberal imperialist" leftist commentators.
An egregiously blatant example of this, was provided by the Times' Maniac-in-Chief, Lord William Rees-Mogg, who headlined his weekly column Feb. 17, on the subject of the Feb. 15 mass demonstrations: "In All Honesty, They Were Still Saddam's Useful Idiots." He ranted: "I respect the good intentions of those who marched on Saturday. Unfortunately, the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Rees-Mogg and his ilk were roasted, in the same Feb. 17 Times, by one of Britain's most respected military strategists, Sir Timothy Garden. Currently at the Department of Defence Studies, King's College, London, Garden was formerly Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, and later director of the Royal Institute of International Affairs ("Chatham House").
He asserted: "The rush to war in Iraq gives an opportunity for every merchant of spin to stir the pot. Plagiarised academic writings are attributed to impeccable intelligence sources. International terrorism, local dissidents and tinpot dictators are linked with nuclear weapons by inadequate commas. Old inspectors' reports are rehashed to sound like new discoveries of Iraqi deception. But the real sign of desperation is when the war advocates start calling their critics appeasers."
Garden acknowledged, that there are certainly likenesses between Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler, but the comparisons quickly can be reduced to meaninglessness. Hitler had vast military potential, and there are real lessons to be learned, about the dangers of having appeased him. But Iraq's military infrastructure has been significantly destroyed and dismantled, and there has been a "successful mixture of containment and deterrence" in dealing with him, so it is absurd to accuse France and Germany of appeasement if they delay precipitate use of military force against him.
He concluded: "The contrast between pre-war Germany and Iraq could scarcely be more stark. In Iraq, we face a Third World country that has been declining in military strength since we stopped supporting its regional power strategy....With no threat to Europe, America, or even to Iraq's neighbors, war seems a very odd choice."
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