Dissidents call for PM to quit

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair faces the first call by Labour dissidents today to make way for Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister will seek to use his expected election victory to draw a line under the rows over Iraq, but Labour's left will not let the issue go away.

In an interview with The Independent Alice Mahon, who stood down at the election as MP for Halifax, becomes the first Labour member to call for Mr Blair to go. Her comments will confirm the Prime Minister's fears that left-wingers in Parliament are aiming to undermine his leadership. In the last week of the campaign Mr Blair called for a big majority to help him overcome the power of the left. The left is furious over suspicions that New Labour loyalists were behind the publication of a list of prominent left-wingers, regarded as the "awkward squad" shortly before polling day.

The list included Frank Dobson, the former health secretary, Ronnie Campbell in Blyth Valley, Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North, Ann Cryer in Keighley, her son, John Cryer, in Hornchurch, Paul Flynn in Newport West, Glenda Jackson, in Hampstead and Highgate, Lynne Jones in Birmingham Selly Oak, Bob Marshall-Andrews in Medway and John McDonnell, chairman of the Campaign Group, in Hayes and Harlington.

Mrs Mahon confirmed the claims by Brian Sedgemore, a fellow former MP who defected from Labour to the Liberal Democrats, that a group of dissidents were ready to launch a campaign to oust Mr Blair and replace him with Mr Brown. Mrs Mahon said: "I think there are quite a number of Labour members who stood down at the election, and others who are still in Parliament who are ready to call for Blair to go.

"I think it is important he goes early. He has been saved by Brown during this election. There is no doubt about that. It was horrible canvassing and finding everyone was against Blair. There really is a lot of dislike of the Prime Minister out in Labour areas."

The Labour left-wingers are determined to vote with the Liberal Democrats and Tories to defeat any attempt by the Government to bring forward more law and order measures which are seen as an attack civil liberties.