Press cutting

Region's MPs say constituents overwhelmingly against conflict
Little belief in need for war

Stephen Bevan Cambridge Evening News, 6 February 2003, page 3

THE people of Mid-Anglia are not ready for a war in Iraq, according to the region's MPs.

Many in the county still have concerns over military action and remain unconvinced an invasion is, as yet, justified.

Jim Paice, Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire, has already warned Tony Blair he does not yet have the backing of the region for an invasion of Iraq.

Mr Paice, who is receiving five letters a day from worried constituents, said the Prime Minister had not done enough to emphasise the link between Saddam Hussein and international terrorism.

He said concern about military action was countywide and stressed Mr Blair should secure backing from the United Nations before going to war.

He told the News the majority of people in Cambridgeshire could not understand why, after 12 years trying to resolve the situation in Iraq, the Government was planning an invasion now.

He said: "I certainly don't think the majority of my constituents want to go to war under the current circumstances."

Cambridge MP Anne Campbell warned of mass walkouts from the city's Labour party if Mr Blair goes to war without UN backing.

The Labour MP said she was still being flooded with correspondence from her own constituents.

"People cannot yet see any obvious reason for war," she said.

A recent survey by publisher Letts Educational showed that more than half of teenagers in the region do not want to go to war and Richard Spring, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, said many of his constituents also had concerns.

He said: "I don't think Tony Blair has sufficiently outlined the case for war.

"But I believe emerging evidence will prove there has been a cover-up by Saddam Hussein, and I am also confident a second United Nations resolution will be secured.

"I think these factors will help people feel more comfortable."

Oliver Heald, Conservative MP for Hertfordshire North East, said he had received many letters from people in his area who were worried about the idea of entering a war without UN endorsement.

He said: "Most people feel this should be a UN initiative.

"If the whole world decides to take action I believe it would make a difference. Most would not be happy with anything less than that."

Sir Alan Haselhurst, Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, said although he had not received an "avalanche" of letters, he had no reason to expect his constituents' views differed from the nationwide opinion polls, which show the majority of the population are at present opposed to war.

However, Conservative Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon, said the vast majority of his constituents understood the need to disarm Saddam Hussein.

He added: "That is certainly my own position. If he refuses to comply with the very straightforward United Nations resolution it is right that we take action.

"A second resolution would be preferable, but not a prerequisite."

But according to Conservative MP Andrew Lansley, residents in South Cambridgeshire are still unconvinced.

He said: "It's perfectly clear the majority of my constituents have continuing strong reservations about war in Iraq, some under any circumstances, but some because they are not persuaded of the case, why it is necessary and why now."

Have your say -phone our vote line to give us your opinions

The region's MPs say the majority of their constituents feel we should not go to war against Iraq but U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell put the other point of view last night when he told the United Nations of Saddam Hussein's efforts to hide chemical and biological weapons.

Tonight we want to know if you believe we should support the United States in waging war with Iraq.

All you need to do to vote is call one of the two lines printed here or visit www.cambridge-news.co.uk

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YES We should go to war 0901 110 [clarion: truncated number since survey is finished]

NO We should not go to war 0901 110 [clarion: truncated number since survey is finished]

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