Labour to field anti-peace teams

By Jo Dillon,Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 23 February 2003 01:00

Anxious Labour chiefs – worried the party will pay in council seats at the local elections for Tony Blair's unpopular war policy – plan to send in special teams to kill off the party's huge anti-war lobby.

Internal party documents reveal that briefings have been prepared for every constituency in the UK, outlining the Government's position on Iraq. A call centre is handling requests for help, and officials and politicians from London are ready to fly in to deal with grassroots hostility.

Opponents of a war with Iraq insist the documents prepared amount to "propaganda". Those obtained by The Independent on Sunday show that the Labour Party is to tell its members that as late as 1998 Iraq was in possession of chemical and biological weapons and, contrary to the reports from Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, has refused to destroy them.

The documents give a full run-down of Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses and make a link between Iraq, weapons of mass destruction and the 11 September attacks.

A Labour source, hostile to the war but unwilling to be named, said: "If they were confident they were right, they wouldn't have to do this."

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