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Labour to vote on Iraq withdrawal


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Labour to vote on Iraq withdrawal

Labour's conference in Brighton is to get the chance to vote on calls for Tony Blair to set a date for British troops to pull out of Iraq.

Delegates forced the vote, which will take place on Thursday, when they chose the top five topical motions they wanted to debate in Brighton this week.

The news came hours after Mr Blair had said pulling troops out of Iraq now would be surrendering to terrorists.

The prime minister told the BBC he would not apologise for the Iraq war.

Hostage crisis

The other topical motions voted for debate were pensions, public services, workers' rights and manufacturing.

The Iraq vote will come during a wider session on "Britain in the World".

Thursday's motion will bring together a variety of debate proposals and there will now be behind the scenes persuasion to ensure the leadership wins.

BBC political editor Andrew Marr said Iraq threatened to dominate a great deal of the conference and there were fears about what hostage-takers in Iraq might do next.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett denied the vote was a blow to Mr Blair.

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

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

On Sunday evening, the brother of British hostage Ken Bigley told a conference fringe meeting he had new information that his brother was alive.

He urged Mr Blair to ask US President George W Bush to lift the "blockade" on releasing women prisoners in Iraq.

The prime minister spoke again to the Bigley family in Liverpool on Sunday, Downing Street said, but no more details have been given.

'No wobble'

Earlier, Mr Blair told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost everything possible was being done to help Mr Bigley but he did not want to raise "false hopes".

Quizzed on reports he had considered resigning earlier this year, Mr Blair replied: "I'm not the wobbling sort."

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.

He went on: "When I hear people say because of the difficulties, we should pull our troops out, my response is that would be to surrender to the terrorists."

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

Mr Brown later told delegates Britain would write off its share of debt owed by the world's poorest countries to the World Bank.


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  • wunarmdscissor


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don't these children realise that whatever position they held on the war, pulling out is not an option now?


I agree!

Pulling out now means the terrorists win.

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don't these children realise that whatever position they held on the war

Oh they're not child, they're the ruling party tongue.gif

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You all have to realise that this is not the government voting on something its the labour party and its delegates at the conference.

It will have no actual effect on policy its more of the labour party as a whole telling tony blair just how unhappy they are at him and how he has handled the war in Iraq.

All the people on the foum who support george bush should be worried about this , you should all be praying that our little socialst left wing government doesnt fall apart, becuase the right wing opposition who are about as useless as a chocolate watch and as oportunistic as vultures (pretty much like most right wing politics) have already cynically begun using the war in Iraq as an excuse , after wholeheartdly agreeing with it they are now against it and they will cynically use this and a withdrawal date as ammo to try an win the next election.

I pray people dont fall for Michael ("theres something about the night of him") Howard's cynical useless right wing, verging on nazism bull**** and use tehir heads and vote for labour.

Things are ten million times better at home now than when the tories were in power.

I read something in a paper today it went along the lines of , iraq may be a mess , but when we lok to our home , the econmy is the most successful it has EVER been, unemployment is falling steadily and these are but just a few f the achievments we have under abour, However thge article saved the best for last , it reminded us all that whilst peace in Iraq is a long way of but here at home for the first time in a century we have PEACE in Northern Ireland , tony Blair's handling of that should never be forgotten, under the tories that being acheived was about as distant as peace in Iraq is now....But they did it, whose to say they cant again??

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I pray people dont fall for Michael ("theres something about the night of him") Howard's cynical useless right wing, verging on nazism bull**** and use tehir heads and vote for labour.

God forbid the English ever vote him into power wacko.gif It'll be like Thatcher 2, the son of

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we in scotland must never forget he was the man who imposed the poll tax on us and maggies right hand man when they side by side racially persecuted the scots.

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It will be fun though to see a Tory Westminster parliament and a Labour Edinburgh Parliament rip into each other grin2.gif The only winners can be the SSP and SNP. .... although god forbid the SSP ever gain power, has anyone seen their manifesto, its a guide to how to destroy an economy.

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I pray people dont fall for Michael ("theres something about the night of him") Howard's cynical useless right wing, verging on nazism bull**** and use tehir heads and vote for labour.

God forbid the English ever vote him into power wacko.gif It'll be like Thatcher 2, the son of


ROFL!!! laugh.giflaugh.gif I nearly choked on my tea reading both your comments!!

The news came hours after Mr Blair had said pulling troops out of Iraq now would be surrendering to terrorists.

The prime minister told the BBC he would not apologise for the Iraq war.

Well said Tony!


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ROFL!!!  I nearly choked on my tea reading both your comments!!

Why? Think we're just being paraniod over English voting habits? huh.giflaugh.gif

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Speaking of Labour;

We've much more to do, says Brown

Gordon Brown has told the Labour faithful the party can create a Britain that leads the world by being both prosperous and socially just.

They must move beyond winning votes to winning hearts and minds, to create a "progressive consensus" around "liberty, duty and fairness", he said.

His Brighton speech turned the focus back on the economy, away from Iraq.

Mr Brown told the conference they must have confidence in Labour's values, saying: "We have much more to do."

He said he had a "patriotic vision" for a Britain which mixed America's economic success and Europe's social justice.

Earlier Mr Brown said talk of splits with Mr Blair was "tittle tattle". He made a point of paying tribute to Mr Blair once early on in his speech.

BBC News political editor Andrew Marr said there were "no petty or snide" digs at Mr Blair, describing the speech as probably the best Mr Brown had made since Labour came to power.

In a speech setting out Mr Brown's political "vision" rather than spelling out new policies, the chancellor did pledge to introduce a minimum wage from the age of 16 and to expand the use of education maintenance grants.

'Pre-election promises'

Those would help "us to build a shared national purpose, a British progressive consensus, much more than a set of individual policies announced by politicians but a set of beliefs that come to be shared by the British people".

This would show Britain could be "the first country of the global age where prosperity and justice advance together".

He urged party members to reach out beyond the Labour Party to the wider community to get its message across.

And Mr Brown, recently usurped as election campaign supremo by ex-health secretary Alan Milburn, warned there must be no "irresponsible pre-election promises".

Instead, he said, they must have confidence in Labour values, to build on what had been achieved so far.

"Have confidence - united in our values we will build the progressive consensus of prosperity and justice for all," he said.

"Have confidence - our achievements are just a beginning: we have much more to do," he said before receiving a standing ovation.


The 1945 Labour government, led by Clement Attlee, was undermined by economic failure and because it did not "deepen popular support".

Labour had gone from "being the party not trusted on the economy to the only party trusted on the economy", he said, saying the economy must be at the heart of its election campaign.

The BBC's Andrew Marr pointed out that Mr Brown's conference speech mentioned Britain 42 or 43 times - saying this appeared to be an attempt to reclaim patriotism.

Mr Brown said there were challenges likely from the global economy, pointing out that China was exporting more than France, Italy and Britain together and that its wages were 5% of those in Britain.

"We will not compete by lowering wages and lowering standards. We will compete by raising skills," he said.

Tory shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin attacked Mr Brown's economic record.

He said: "If Labour is going to make the fact that we have dropped from 4th to 15th place in the world competitiveness league a major plank of their election campaign, good luck to them.

"Over the last seven years Britain's growth rate has been lower than that of all other major English-speaking countries and half that of Ireland," Mr Letwin added.

Economic issues feature in four of the emergency motions selected by delegates for debate this week - covering pensions, public services, workers' rights and manufacturing.

Until Mr Brown's speech the focus had been on Iraq after delegates forced a vote on British troops' presence in Iraq.

Mr Brown headed Labour's election campaign team in 1997 and 2001.

Newspaper reports have suggested Mr Milburn told the Cabinet the 2001 election campaign, run by Mr Brown, had been a "missed opportunity" because it stressed the economy over plans for public service reforms.


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Troops-out of Iraq call defeated

Labour's leadership has seen off calls for an early pull-out of troops from Iraq, winning a conference vote on the issue by a margin of four to one.

The victory was widely expected after a deal was struck with unions to back an alternative motion saying troops should stay as long as Iraq wants.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw insisted UK troops were not "occupying" Iraq.

The call for Mr Blair to set an early date for withdrawing the troops was defeated by 86% to 14%.


The victory for the leadership came on the last day of the conference which closed, after John Prescott's traditional upbeat send-off for party workers, with Tony Blair joining a chorus of steelworkers singing the Red Flag and Jerusalem.

The debate and votes on the last day of the conference came as reports suggested two Indonesian women, six Iraqis and two Lebanese who work for an electronics firm have been taken hostage.

A series of bombings across Baghdad also left more than 41 dead, most of them children, with more than 100 people injured.

In Brighton, Mr Straw warned a quick withdrawal of British troops would be disastrous for progress in rebuilding Iraq.

He told the conference: "The situation in Iraq is serious. But let us be clear about this: the agenda which the Iraqi people and government are seeking to follow is one set by them and endorsed by the whole international community."

He said that when an elected Iraqi government asked the coalition to leave, US-led forces would comply.

He warned that "today's scourge" was international terrorism, adding he was on his way to hold talks with British hostage Ken Bigley's family.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon also urged delegates not to back the "troops out" call, saying: "Whatever your views, we must now work to defeat terrorism.

"Now is the time to unite to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country, their economy, their way of life."

Meanwhile away from the conference centre Tory leader Michael Howard went on the offensive and for the first time accused Mr Blair of lying over the build-up to war.

'Loss of trust'

Mr Howard told the New Statesman: "I think people hold the view pretty firmly now that they were lied to over Iraq.

"I don't think that's the only thing they were lied to about... but Iraq is the great catalyst for the loss of trust in the government."

The prime minister later responded to the Tory leader's remarks saying: "I just find it contemptible because he supported the war."

A frantic round of meetings between union bosses and senior ministers, including Mr Straw, on Wednesday evening is thought to have removed the prospect of government defeat.

The big unions backed a statement agreed at a meeting of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) on Wednesday night, which agreed British troops should only stay in Iraq as long as Iraq's government wanted them there.

Mr Soames told the BBC's Daily Politics that the deal with unions over the troops pull-out vote reminded him of Labour in 1979 "stitching up a deal in smoke-filled rooms with union barons".

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's former special representative in Iraq, warned, on BBC Radio 4's Today, that setting an "arbitrary deadline" for withdrawal "would be giving in to terrorism".

Iraq troops

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Paul Keetch said: "I'm not sure that anybody's going to be that interested or trust what they are hearing from the Labour Party today.

"The fact is that Tony Blair took us into Iraq without the support of the majority of the people of this country and the situation is getting worse not better.

"We have had two more [uK] troops dead this week and the real question is when are those troops going to come home."

Gerard Batten, UK Independence Party euro MP, said: "We find we are in a situation where we are in a war that we shouldn't be in and he wants to say sorry.

"I think he's a fantasist who lives in a world where if he wants something to be true and he believes it, then for him it is and the rest of us are expected to go along with it.

"You cannot conduct a country's foreign and defence policy on this basis."


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I just thank God that here in the UK people like you are in the minority.

Whats that supposed to mean? huh.gif

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