Rebel Labour MP accuses regal Blair of being 'drunk on power'

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The Labour rebel MP Paul Marsden, who opposes the war in Afghanistan, has accused Tony Blair of acting like a king and heading a government "drunk on power".

Mr Marsden, who is on a fact-finding visit to refugee camps in Pakistan, warned that America's cluster bombs would "kill more children than terrorists" and predicted that 100,000 children could die because of the conflict. "They will die from poverty, disease and the war. Whether the life is taken in New York or Kabul, each one is precious," he said.

Writing in the journal of the Campaign group of left-wing MPs, Mr Marsden said the war had demonstrated that Britain has a "weak Parliament" dominated by a Prime Minister who retains the full powers of the state.

"The reason Tony Blair does not have to worry one jot about the mere details justifying this war is because he cannot be held to account for it in Parliament," he said. "Britain needs a written constitution to give Parliament the power to check and balance an executive drunk on power ...We cannot continue to have a regal Prime Minister and his shadowy courtiers dispensing patronage and power as they see fit."

Mr Marsden argued that the United Nations should set up an international criminal tribunal to indict those responsible for the 11 September attacks.

"It is understandable that people want revenge but that doesn't make it right. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are no clear aims to this war other than revenge," he said.

The MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham has become a thorn in the Government's side after disclosing attempts by Labour whips to silence his criticism of the war. In the article, he described how the Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, "told me with a straight face that war was not simply a matter of conscience but simply government policy".

Another Labour MP, Alan Simpson, chairman of the Labour Against the War campaign, warned yesterday that Mr Blair's personal popularity could quickly melt away in a public backlash against Britain tying itself so closely to America. He told the political website ePolitix.com: "It's a very easy style to support if it's a consistently winning style, but the risk that it runs is if it all goes pear-shaped for you, then you're pretty much out on your own."

Describing Mr Blair as "the President", Mr Simpson said the war could kill off public support for Labour's domestic policies. "If you lose faith in what the President stands for, then you cease making excuses or concessions for aspects of other policies that don't feel right either," he said.

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