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BRIAN READE'S COLUMN: Tony can do a bunker.. phew.

Byline: BRIAN READE

I'M sleeping better now that I know there's enough smallpox jabs to go around for the Cabinet and their four-star nuclear bunker is like a home from Tuscan home.

That when Muslim fanatics unleash dirty bombs and deadly chemicals on us for illegally turning Baghdad into Hiroshima, those responsible can enjoy a hearty underground dinner party with wives and advisers, safe in the knowledge that the only red stains splattered on their shirts will be Chianti.

I'm particularly pleased that veteran left-wingers like Clare Short, John Prescott, Robin Cook and Margaret Beckett will be in there, because at least when they're in a concrete reinforced bunker, they will finally have an excuse for their shameless silence.

Well, if they do end up in there, while the rest of us scrape the corpses off the Tube, I hope they are honest as to why.

It won't be because Saddam Hussein has unleashed his so-called WMDs on London but because, for reasons of self-preservation, THEY went against the wishes of their party by allowing their leader to slavishly back a fundamental fanatic in his bid for global dominance. They thrust their people in the front-line of terror by supporting an American dictator's attempts to de-stabilise the Muslim world while doing nothing about Israel's nuclear weapons, and its consistent flouting of UN resolutions.

Jack Straw says we will reap the whirlwind if we let America go it alone. I hope he has worked out the whirlwind we will face by playing cheerleader to Bush's macho self-interest.

Here's the cost for starters. The lives of soldiers abroad and citizens at home. More than pounds 3billion of taxpayers' money we can ill afford, and a split in the Labour Party which could escalate to a civil war and lead to another 18 years of Tory misrule. If Tony Blair goes to war without a second resolution, the Labour Party will not only lose votes, subscriptions, membership and credibility, it will face seething backbench rebels who will go for the jugular.

Where are the principled Cabinet members telling the so-called modernisers that they are taking the Labour party back to its darkest days of strife?

Where are the old sages remin- ding Blair that Harold Wilson wisely saw the writing on the wall over Vietnam and refused to send a single troop?

Who is pointing out that a Labour Prime Minister is lining up in Westminster with Tory hawks, on the world stage with Republican hawks, and creating enemies out of most natural Labour voters who see his war as utterly immoral?

Certainly not Prescott, Cook, Short, and Beckett. The so-called conscience of the Cabinet. Because they are so used to the chauffeured limos, grace-and-favour homes, and big pay packets, they haven't got the balls to risk them.

Make sure you enjoy the bunker, folks. There won't be too many places left to hide if you ever get out.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 6, 2003
Words:486
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