Iraq has blighted foreign policy successes, says Hain

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Indy Politics

Labour's foreign policy achievements since 1997 have been blighted by the Iraq war and its aftermath, the cabinet minister Peter Hain has said.

In an interview in today'sNew Statesman, the Northern Ireland Secretary launched a strong attack on George Bush by declaring: "The neocon mission has failed. It's not only failed to provide a coherent international policy, it's failed wherever it's been tried, and it's failed with the American electorate, who kicked it into touch last November."

Mr Hain said: "The problem for us as a government... was actually to maintain a working relationship with what was the most right-wing American administration, if not ever, then in living memory.All that we've achieved on the international agenda, whether it's trebling aid to Africa, or leading the fight for trade justice... all of these things people have forgotten about because of the Iraq conflict."

It emerged yesterday that Gordon Brown will have to formally stand for election as leader of the Labour Party even if his name is the only name on the ballot paper when Mr Blair quits this summer. Although a left-wing MP such as John McDonnell or Michael Meacher may seek to stand against Mr Brown, there is speculation that they may not secure the necessary 44 nominations from Labour MPs. "It may look like a communist-style solution," said a Labour source. "But it would look a lot worse if Gordon had no election at all."

Yesterday Mr Blair denied a claim that he might have been the source of a comment in 1998 that Mr Brown was "psychologically flawed". The suggestion was made by Lance Price, a former Downing Street spin doctor, who told the internet TV channel 18 Doughty Street that "someone very close to the Chancellor" told him that Alastair Campbell had taken the public blame for the remark to shield his political boss.