Dalyell attacks 'Jewish cabal'

Jo Dillon,Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 04 May 2003 00:00 BST

Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House of Commons, has accused the Prime Minister of "being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers".

His remarksprompted immediate outrage from politicians and members of the Jewish community. The MP expressed concern that Tony Blair continued to back the United States' stance on Syria and Iran, having given his support to war on Iraq.

Mr Dalyell named, in his interview with Vanity Fair, Lord Levy, Mr Blair's personal envoy to the Middle East, Peter Mandelson, whose father was Jewish, and Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who has Jewish ancestry, as the influential figures behind the Government's Middle East policy.

The MP for Linlithgow defended his comments, telling The Sunday Telegraph: "I am fully aware that one is treading on cut glass on this issue and no one wants to be accused of anti-Semitism but, if it is a question of launching an assault on Syria or Iran ... then one has to be candid."

Mr Dalyell said he himself was not anti-Semitic and would not be branded as such, adding that his children had worked on a kibbutz.

The MP claimed Mr Blair had also been directly influenced by Jewish people in the Bush administration, including Richard Perle, the Pentagon adviser, Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz and Ari Fleischer, President George Bush's press secretary.

A spokesman for No 10 said the MPs comments were "ludicrous" and Mr Mandelson branded him "incorrigible", while a spokesman for the Foreign Secretary added: "If these reports are accurate, these remarks are too unworthy to be worth a comment."

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