Labour MPs blame bombings on Iraq war

By Colin Brown and Andrew Grice
Published: 16 July 2005

The uneasy truce inside the Labour Party over the London bombings ended last night as an ex-cabinet minister and left-wing Labour MPs linked the attacks with the war in Iraq.

Left-wing Labour MPs said they would use a conference in London today to pile the pressure on Tony Blair to hasten the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. And Clare Short, the former cabinet minister, said in a television interview to be broadcast tomorrow that she "had no doubt" that the bombings were connected to the Iraqi conflict.

Ms Short said the anti-terror legislation being planned by Mr Blair would act as a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists. She said it was wrong that Muslims should grow up in Britain willing to contemplate killing innocent civilians, but coupled her condemnation of the bombing with criticism of British foreign policy.

"Some of the voices that have been coming from the Government that talk as though this is all evil, and that everything we do is fine, when in fact we are implicated in the slaughter of large numbers of civilians in Iraq and supporting a Middle East policy that for the Palestinians creates this sense of double standards - that feeds anger," she said in a recorded interview for GMTV.

John McDonnell, chairman of the 500-strong Labour Representation Committee, which is staging the one-day conference, will lead calls for Britain to pull troops out of Iraq. He will tell the Prime Minister: "Please do not try to tell us that the war in Iraq played no part. This assertion is simply intellectually unsustainable. Now is the time to prevent further violence by renouncing violent solutions ourselves.

"For as long as Britain remains in occupation of Iraq, the terrorist recruiters will have the argument they seek to attract more susceptible young recruits to bomb teams. Britain must withdraw now."

Downing Street has published a list of al-Qa'ida attacks on the West from the first World Trade Centre bombing in 1993, to show that they started before the Iraq war. But a member of the left-wing Campaign Group said: "We are going to set the cat among the pigeons. No Labour MP has uttered a word about Iraq since the bombings, but they have to be seen in context.


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