Blair Accused of Being Dictator in Policy over Iraq; PAVILION: Cultural Leader's Plea for Peace

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 8, 2002 | Go to article overview

Blair Accused of Being Dictator in Policy over Iraq; PAVILION: Cultural Leader's Plea for Peace


Byline: STEVE DUBE

PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair was accused of acting like a dictator as a leading member of the Gorsedd y Beirdd delivered an impassioned plea for peace from the Eisteddfod stage yesterday.

James Nicholas, the former Preseli head teacher and schools inspector who is now Cofiadur, Recorder of the Gorsedd, said the Prime Minister had gone to war in Afghanistan and was threatening war in Iraq without consulting Parliament.

``This is the authority of the dictator,'' said Mr Nicholas, who evoked the memory of his friend the late Waldo Williams in an emotional speech as President of the Day that also recalled the influence of the armed forces in the area and the loss of the Welsh language from his home city St Davids.

In a speech to the pavilion Mr Nicholas said the festival was being held on an airfield created in 1943 on a headland crossed by the ancient pilgrims' way to the shrine of St David.

``I'm old enough to recall the cutting down of the hedges, roads and homes and farms disappearing forever,'' said Mr Nicholas, who recalled Waldo's passionate sonnet on the event, St Davids Day, which spoke of ``the eternal tents of Mammon'' and ``the steel teeth of destruction'' on the saint's headland. Mr Nicholas said the Korean War later weighed heavily on Waldo's conscience - he was imprisoned for refusing to pay income tax that would be used to fund the war - and wrote of his sense of helplessness: ``We usually avoided thinking of Korea, and so it contin-ued, just as Belsen continued.'' Mr Nicholas said, ``The contemporary significance of the warning is chilling.

``The war in Afghanistan continues from day to day and the soldiers of these islands have their part in it and the Prime Minister in London announces his intentions of war without even calling Members of Parliament back to give their seal of approval.

``And now we hear about preparations for an attack on Iraq - Britain and the United States of America preparing a year in advance to attack the inhabitants of a country which expounds one of the world's great religions.

``Yes, we usually avoid thinking of Afghanistan, and so it continues, as Korea continued, as Belsen continued, from day to day. …

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