Blair Appeals to Emotions to Win Back Doubters; CAMPAIGN: Prime Minister to Revisit the Horrors of September 11 to Focus Waverers' Minds on Military Aims

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 30, 2001 | Go to article overview

Blair Appeals to Emotions to Win Back Doubters; CAMPAIGN: Prime Minister to Revisit the Horrors of September 11 to Focus Waverers' Minds on Military Aims


Byline: NICK SPEED

THE PRIME Minister will tug at the nation's heart-strings today to shore up support for the allied action against Afghanistan that he insists is on track Appearing before a National Assembly that includes a significant number of doubters, Tony Blair will try to regain the initiative in the propaganda war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

The half-hour speech to AMs will amount to an acknowledgement by Downing Street that the public is becoming increasingly uneasy about whether the military effort is achieving its aims.

To those concerned by a lengthening list of civilian casualties and the allies' failure to land a decisive hit against bin Laden and his supporters, Mr Blair's message will be to remember the full scale of the horror of September 11.

Last night it was clear however that Mr Blair can expect a frosty reception from certain sections of the Assembly chamber when he returns there for the first time since its 1999 opening.

Despite calling last week's debate on the international crisis, Plaid Cymru criticised as "inappropriate" the Prime Minister's decision to devote his first address to the Assembly to the crisis .

And while the Conservative group accepted that international events had dictated the contents of the speech, leader Nick Bourne said Mr Blair should return quickly to address devolved matters.

Among Welsh Labour MPs who had last week questioned the decision of AMs to debate matters outside their remit there was defence of the Prime Minister's visit, trusting the speech would help AMs to make better informed decisions on the crisis.

But calls from the Father of the House Tam Dalyell that Mr Blair should justify the bombing of Afghanistan to the Commons rather than an Assembly without powers to question him found a degree of sympathy among Labour's Welsh group.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Jackie Lawrence said, "If, as looks the case, this is going to be a lengthy campaign, then I would like to see a weekly or fortnightly statement to the House giving us an update and the chance to ask questions on the diplomatic and humanitarian aspects as well as the military. …

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