BRITAIN: WMD scandal causes Labour poll slump

Issue 

BY ROHAN PEARCE

A survey by polling organisation YouGov has revealed that the British Labour Party's popularity has fallen dramatically as the scandal over Prime Minister Tony Blair's lies about Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) unfolds.

The poll, conducted on June 24-26 for the London Daily Telegraph, revealed that only 35% of respondents intended to vote for Labour, 2% less than those intending to vote for the Tories.

In an earlier poll, conducted by YouGov on June 3, 43% of respondents indicated they believed Blair deliberately distorted information relating to WMD; 46% believed that he told the truth. Seventy percent also indicated that "It matters a lot" whether Blair lied, revealing that Labour is likely to face a further fall in support as the government lies continue to be exposed.

One such scandal relates to forged documents, purportedly "proving" that Iraq had tried to import uranium from Niger, that were given to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the CIA, which had received them from British intelligence. The documents were cited in a dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government, released in September 2002.

The documents were used as "evidence" against Iraq, even though the CIA had dispatched a US official to Niger who had concluded they were fakes. A June 29 report in the British Independent newspaper, revealed that the official, who wished to remain anonymous, didn't think claims that British intelligence services weren't aware of his report was credible. He told the Independent that when he read the September dossier he even told the CIA it needed to inform British intelligence services of his findings.

A further dossier on Iraq, released by the Blair government in February, has also been a source of scandal since it was revealed to have been plagiarised from a student's essay. Even Jack Straw, Blair's foreign secretary, labelled it an "embarrassment" on June 24. Astonishingly, this didn't prevent Blair telling the House of Commons on June 25: "As to the facts set out in the dossier, they are correct. Whatever their provenance, it does not alter the fact that they are correct."

From Green Left Weekly, July 9, 2003.
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