Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Uneasy rebels plan campaign to halt bombing|
|10/23/01 at 19:40:15|
|Post by BroHanif|
Just check the MUSLIM LEADERS at the end. What sell outs.
Uneasy rebels plan campaign to halt bombing
Backbenchers resist pressure to stay in line
Michael White, political editor
Friday October 19, 2001
Labour backbenchers are planning to defy pressure from Tony Blair and their party's whips by launching an official campaign against the continued bombing of Afghanistan by the US-led coalition.
As unease sets in about the scope and direction of the bombing and its likely impact on the distribution of food aid to millions of refugees before winter arrives, rebel MPs who have shown any sign of dissent have been told not to table Commons' motions or to appear on radio or TV without first clearing it with the Labour whips office.
Such pressure - which included a 45-minute lecture from Hilary Armstrong, the chief whip, for Paul Marsden, a new high-profile dissident - will be ignored by most of the rebels, though some have been told they are in breach of the rules of the Parliamentary Labour party.
However, the dissidents - who include a number of younger MPs as well as "old lags" who have opposed military action from Iraq to Bosnia and Kosovo - are determined to provide a focus for what they believe will prove a rising level of criticism if the allies appear to lose their way and fail to dislodge either the Taliban or the "prime suspect"of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden.
They plan to launch a "Labour Against the Bombing" group at Westminster on Wednesday - a change of name from "Labour Against the War" because some MPs do not oppose a military response to the attacks on America, only a dangerous or ineffective one.
In the absence of Tony Benn - now retired as an MP - Alan Simpson, chairman of the leftwing Campaign Group, is the leading organiser of the group, which hopes to attract between 15 and 30 backers or more from Labour's ranks, as well as Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat and SNP critics.
Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat aid spokesman, was criticised on Wednesday night at a private meeting of colleagues for backing the campaign for a pause in the bombing. The 30-strong Liberal Democrat executive met last night to decide whether to back it, too.
The veteran MP Tam Dalyell is also expected to back the group, as will Alice Mahon, the MP for Halifax who opposes the military action outright.
Mr Simpson and the MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, Dr Lynne Jones, are not so emphatic.
"I am not against all action, I want effective action," said Dr Jones.
Along with Mr Simpson, Adam Price, Mr Marsden, Valerie Davey and Hywell Williams, all MPs, she joined David Pickering, an American who delivered to Downing Street his internet petition calling for "international institutions, not the instruments of war" to resolve the crisis.
Some 53,000 people in Britain are among the 500,000 worldwide who have emailed their support to Mr Pickering (David@9-11peace.org) who warns that the current military strategy will make a bad situation worse.
Mr Marsden (Shrewsbury) and Ms Davey (Bristol West) are among the class of 1997 MPs who have shown support - vocally, in Mr Marsden's case, ever since he challenged Mr Blair during the prime minister's last Commons statement. He also spoke at a Trafalgar Square rally on Saturday. Ms Davey attended a dissidents' meeting with the foreign secretary, Jack Straw.
Among the options open to the rebels is to force a division on the issue, possibly as soon as Thursday when the Commons is next expected to debate the conflict. They want an element of surprise and do not want to be humiliated by minimal support as whips pile on the pressure against less experienced MPs.
Although ministers are unlikely to table a substantive motion of support for the Anglo-American strategy, it takes only three MPs, including two tellers, to force a procedural vote against the night's adjournment of the house.
Five Muslim parliamentarians - two Labour MPs and three peers - issued a strong statement condemning the attacks of September 11 and backing military strikes that are "carefully targeted, proportionate and consistent with international law".
"We've been getting a pretty hard time," said one as the five Muslim colleagues issued their statement. Khalid Mahmood, Mohammed Sarwar, and the peers, Lord Ahmed, Lord Patel of Blackburn and Lady Uddin welcomed Mr Blair's stress on the wider political, economic and humanitarian strategy, including his meeting on Monday with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.
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