Friday, August 04, 2006

The Brits Revolt

In what is billed to be a massive protest matching the scale of those seen in Britain prior to the Iraq war, Brits will take to the streets on Saturday demanding an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Lebanon.

Tony Blair may wish he hadn't cancelled his holidays after all.

In a powerful demonstration of the groundswell of opinion across Britain, as many as 100,000 people are predicted to take to the streets around Parliament Square.

As Mr Blair was this week forced to concede that even members of his cabinet had "doubts" over his handling of the situation, protesters will deliver children's shoes to his London home to represent those whose lives have been lost in the 24-day conflict.

A letter bearing 40,000 signatures will also be handed in, calling on Mr Blair to work towards ending the "bloodshed and destruction unfolding daily".

England's Stop the War coalition organized the march in only 7 days as a result of growing sentiment against the war which their spokesman compared to pre-Iraq war days: '"We have not experienced this outpouring of public anger against the British Government's pursuit of the Bush war agenda since the Iraq war of March 2003.'

Facing an 'open revolt' from his caucus, Blair's job is also in serious jeopardy:

The extent of the Labour backbench unrest over Tony Blair's handling of the Middle East crisis is laid bare for the first time today in a petition calling for an immediate ceasefire.

More than 110 Labour MPs, including Paul Clark, the parliamentary private secretary to John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, have signed the petition. That would be enough to wipe out Mr Blair's Commons majority. Mr Blair will not face the immediate threat of a vote because the Commons has risen for the summer recess, but it shows that he has lost the support of almost a third of the Parliamentary Labour Party on the issue.
Most Liberal Democrat MPs, including Sir Menzies Campbell, said they would sign the petition, along with 10 Tory MPs.

Meanwhile, Blair fancies himself as the Palestinians' new best friend.

Tony Blair battled to quell the Labour revolt over his Lebanon policy yesterday by saying he had not given a green light to Israel's military operations, and insisting he was only interested in securing a long-term settlement that must also encompass a Palestinian state.

He also suggested he would personally lead a drive to re-energise the Palestinian peace process in September, claiming he would regard it as a personal failure of his leadership if he could not help negotiate a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Mr Blair gave his strongest criticism of Israel's bombing campaign, describing it as "unacceptable", but he refused to describe it as disproportionate.

Continuing to parrot US administration and Israeli government talking points while delaying involvement in a possible peace plan until September and not even adressing the immediate concerns in Lebanon or Israel, where people are dying on a wide scale basis, hardly seems like a workable plan to stifle Blair's critics at this point. And, that is exactly the message he will receive from the streets of London on Saturday, while the whole world watches.

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