Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Labour are revolting - 26th February 2003, 23.20

There will be plenty of mileage in this revolt and god knows how many column inches. The principal figures on the Tory side, who ignored the dwindling authority of IDS, included Douglas Hogg, co-author of the key amendment with Chris Smith, John Gummer and Kenneth Clarke. A description of the principal categories of Tory warsceptics was recently published in the Guardian.

There are several different types of sceptical Tory.

First, there are the "British interests first" brigade, who will argue that unless it can be shown that a fundamental British interest is at stake we should not risk the lives of British service personnel. They will have been horrified by the prime minister's change of tack in Glasgow and the line now being pushed by Downing Street that this is a moral war for the greater good of mankind.

Second, there are the military types - of whom there are still a good number - who are traditionally sceptical about most foreign expeditions, particularly given the current over-stretch of Britain's armed forces. They haven't just read about equipment problems and military fatigue after long postings overseas, they really know about them.

Next are the Americo-sceptics, like Ken Clarke, who value the special relationship with the US but are quite happy to say when they disagree. They tend more to the continental European approach and have a genuine believe in the need for UN endorsement. Blair certainly cannot count on their votes.

Then there are the confused and uncertain, of whom I am definitely one.

The vote tonight was based on the Smith/Hogg amendment, not the Liberal Democrat rival, and Charles Kennedy has effectively been sidelined by the backbenchers revolt in Labour. Warsceptics in the Tory party do not even merit a media echo so figures are not yet available.


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