September 30, 2004


The woman who helped swing the vote at the Labour conference over pulling troops out of Iraq today accused party members of naivety about the situation in the country.

Shanaz Rashid – whose husband is a minister in the interim Iraqi government – was earlier given a standing ovation when she made an emotional appeal not to pull troops out.

Close to tears, she told party activists that many friends had perished under Saddam Hussein and she had kissed the ground with joy on arriving back at Baghdad after the war.

She praised the Prime Minister for “standing up” to Saddam and liberating the country.

“Yes, there have been difficulties. Yes, there have been mistakes perhaps many mistakes. No, you did not find weapons of mass destruction.

“But for the great majority of Iraqis WMD was never the issue. We don’t understand the criticism of your Prime Minister. All we wanted was to be free.”

She added: “I appeal to you all … to help us build a new democratic federal Iraq that would respect the lives of human beings.”

Asked later if she considered Labour members naive about the situation for Iraqis, she said: “Yes I do think so. They don’t know the reality of their lives. . . . If they are concerned about the Iraqi children they should not be asking the British Government to leave them alone at the mercy of others.”

Blair won with 80% of the vote.

UPDATE: Sorry, the 80% is wrong. “The call for Mr Blair to set an early date for withdrawing the troops was defeated by 86% to 14%.”

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