Mark Thomas calls Labour voters to action

Bush wants war with Iraq and will use any excuse - like Saddam Hussein has infringed the copyright l

It is amazing that, after terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the Yemen, Malaysia, Tunisia, the Philippines, Bali, Afghanistan and Kuwait, some people in Britain feel that the way to stop all this is to go to war with Iraq. Surely, a rudimentary map, compass and a re-marked A-level geography paper show how illogical this argument is.

I know Saddam Hussein is a certified "evil madman" but if he, a secular dictator, is responsible for terrorist attacks committed by Islamic extremists in these disparate places - even while Iraq is under a UN sanctions regime that allows 54 cents per Iraqi per day to cover the nation's needs, and even as it is regularly bombed by US planes - and is ready for a full-scale invasion, then he must at least be getting help from Lex Luthor. In which case we should consider placing Kryptonite on the weapons inspectors' list.

Not surprisingly, the most ardent supporter of this geographically challenged view is George Bush. It doesn't matter if the UN weapons inspectors give Iraq a clean bill of health. Bush wants war. Any excuse will be found, whether it be that Saddam Hussein has infringed copyright on Stalin's moustache, or that Tariq Aziz has stolen Dennis Taylor's glasses.

Although Bush is determined to go in without UN support if necessary, he does need one bit of support - from Tony Blair. Without his staunchest ally, Bush would feel the chill wind of isolation (though it is unlikely that even this would deter him from invasion).

Contrary to popular opinion, Blair is not a US poodle, an American stooge, nor even Bush's talking haemorrhoid. Blair is his Achilles heel. If supporting Bush becomes damaging domestically, Blair will have to reconsider. This could be how to stop an illegal, immoral and grotesque war.

So how do we put this pressure on Blair? The correct answer is: the Labour Party. I don't mean Labour MPs, as they are either on message or irrelevant, and in quite a few cases they manage to be both. As for a revolt by Labour backbenchers, they are about as rebellious as Cliff Richard, as effective as a green goddess, and more of an oxymoron than "independent police inquiry".

No, the people who can stop the invasion of Iraq are Labour Party members. To all the people who have campaigned, raised money and supported Labour: now could be your finest hour. It is time for you to exercise real power; it is time to leave the Labour Party and hit Blair's war plans where it hurts most.

Some who oppose war in Iraq will say they won't leave the Labour Party, as "it is the members who make up the Labour Party and not Tony Blair". However, this is merely a statement of fact, not an argument. The important questions are: who is in control, in whose interest are they working, and how much power do members have to stop Blair's war?

And if you need answers to those questions I ban you from reading any further.

Some will say it is better to stay and fight for change from the inside. Well, how successful has that fight been so far? Are David Blunkett's racist asylum laws any less odious because there are members fighting from the inside? If they are, what position did your fellow members of the Labour Party compromise from?

How have you changed the Labour government's policy on PFI, Tube privatisation, or its anti-union laws? Where are the legal changes on corporate killings? What's happened to Nats? How have you changed things, when Blair himself helps flog BAE Systems Hawk jets to India while conflict over Kashmir is still on the cards? Are you going to stop Blair's "post-comprehensive" education policy? Wake up!

You are not going to change the Blair government by staying in the party and being taken for granted. If your relationship with Labour were a domestic one you would be in a hostel by now.

Others will use Tony Blair's favourite stand-by. Crudely put, this goes: "Well, it's better us than the Tories."

Wrong. First, new Labour very nearly is the Tories. Second, if you accept the "better us than them" line, then it is logical that when a car driver runs someone over we should support the driver, because at least he's only driving his car, and not a tank.

Labour Party members should test that argument on some Iraqi civilians. Explain to them how Margaret Thatcher's bombs would have been a lot worse for them. Tell them that John Major's sanctions would have bitten deeper than Labour's. Tell them that you are supporting the people ordering the bombing because you can change things from the inside.

Unless Labour Party members oppose the war and decide to leave, they will be regarded as the people who said: "We are the new master's servants now."

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