Bill's Archived Comments

for the week beginning: Monday, 2nd September 2002

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- Tory support falls in Scotland, says opinion poll (3 Sep 2002)

- Iraq and the weapons inspection game (3 Sep 2002)

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Tory support falls in Scotland, says opinion poll (3 Sep 2002)

According to an NFO System Three poll conducted for The Herald newspaper, support for the Conservatives in Holyrood (i.e. the Scottish Parliament) list voting intentions has fallen to 9%. If extrapolated to the results of next year's elections, this could give the Scottish Conservative 7 seats, compared with the 18 they won the last time.

This would potentially place the Party level-pegging with Tommy Sheridan's Scottish Socialists who have 8% support, according to the same poll.

But a Tory spokesman is reported to have said: "There is such a consistent margin of error that underestimates our actual vote that we do not comment on the findings." - of course, that in itself constitutes a comment! It is certainly true that opinion polls in Scotland have pretty consistently under-estimated the support that Scotland's Conservatives achieve in practice, but it is difficult to dispute that the trend of support is equally consistently downward in practice. Conservatives in Scotland, and in the United Kingdom as a whole, are unlikely to show an improvement in their electoral fortunes until the public believes that genuine changes are taking place in the Party, not simply the cosmetic measures that are currently being tried - although in Scotland the party has not even gone that far, in my view.

Iraq and the weapons inspection game (3 Sep 2002)

Tariq Aziz, Iraqi deputy Prime Minister, is up to his old tricks again. At the weekend he stated that return of weapons inspection teams was a "non-starter", but yesterday he is reported to have stated that this matter could be considered "within a comprehensive settlement", adding "Let us solve all problems comprehensively. There is no crisis between Iraq and the United Nations. The problem is with the Americans. This is the core of the matter.".

Unfortunately for Tariq Aziz, the 'core of the matter' is not quite as he would have us believe. UN resolutions are quite clear that UN weapons inspection teams must be permitted to carry out their work without impediment. Iraq has consistently tried to impede their work whilst they were in the country, declaring that many of the sites they wished to inspect were 'Presidential Palaces', which were exempt. In discussions since the team left some years ago, in the face of the blocking tactics of the Iraqi authorities, about the possibility of inspection teams returning, the Iraqi leadership has sought to impose conditions - covering the nationality of the inspectors and the scope of the inspections they would be permitted to carry out.

These are, in my view, simply a continuation of the delaying tactics for which the Iraqis, and Tariq Aziz in particular, are notorious. To this must be added their current diplomatic efforts to divide Europe and the United States. Tony Blair, generally not one of my favourite people, is right on this - we cannot allow Iraq to acquire the means of mounting chemical, biological or nuclear attacks against us, assuming it is not too late already. If necessary, the UK should lend whatever support it can to US efforts to end the menace of Saddam Hussein's tyranny in Iraq, although it will naturally be much better if the EU as a whole can act in concert with the US. Appeasement is a tempting option, but it will be just as dangerous to indulge in this now as it was in the 1930s.

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Copyright © 2002 William Cameron