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THE SPLIT over the Iraq war, which ran through the Labour party, reached into Tony Blair?s innermost circle, according to an updated biography of the prime minister.
Key Downing Street advisers including Alastair Campbell, former director of communications, and Baroness Morgan, former director of political and government relations, are revealed to have had ?private reservations? about the prime minister?s strategy.
The disclosures have been made by Blair?s biographer Anthony Seldon, who has benefited from insider accounts that the government is now seeking to suppress.
At the outbreak of war, a gung-ho attitude seemed to pervade Downing Street. According to an interview with Morgan: ?. . . he (Blair) wanted big maps on the wall of the den (Blair?s office) so he could follow the progress of the troops. We wouldn?t let him. He really would have liked a sandpit with tanks.?
LEAKED DATA REVEAL REASONS FOR INCREASED BOMBING RAIDS WERE A SHAM
Figures released by the Ministry of Defence have shown the reasons given by Britain and America for stepping up bombing raids in Iraq in the run-up to war were a sham, writes Michael Smith.
Geoff Hoon, who was then defence secretary, and Donald Rumsfeld, his American counterpart, both claimed that the rise in air attacks was in response to Iraqi attempts to shoot down allied aircraft
However, the minutes of a meeting of Tony Blair?s war cabinet on July 23, 2003, leaked to The Sunday Times, record Hoon saying "the US had begun spikes of activity to put pressure on the regime".
Ministers have since insisted that the stepped-up attacks, which began in May 2002, were as a result of increased Iraqi activity and were not an attempt to provoke a response that would give the allies an excuse for war.
The figures do not support those claims. In the first seven months of 2001 the allies recorded a total of 370 "provocations" by the Iraqis against allied aircraft. But in the seven months between October 2001 and May 2002 there were just 32.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, who obtained the MoD data in a Commons written answer, said it reinforced the need for an inquiry into ministers? conduct in the run-up to war.
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