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Blair's constituents against military action – Echo poll

Tony Blair has been urged to step back from war with Iraq – in an exclusive poll of his own constituents by his local paper, The Northern Echo.

The poll conducted in Sedgefield revealed that 64.6 per cent believe the Prime Minister should not support a US-led bombing campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.

The overwhelming rejection of any British involvement in an attack on Saddam Hussein’s regime came amid growing disquiet from Government backbenchers and the unions.

The Northern Echo’s poll – carried out by the paper’s canvassing team – surveyed 887 people in Mr Blair’s constituency.

Only 17.6 per cent said Tony Blair was right to support the bombing of Iraq while 17.8 per cent were undecided.

Peter Barron, editor of The Northern Echo, said: “This represents a clear message to Tony Blair from his own backyard that there is great unease about this country’s role in military action against Iraq.”

North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who is a member of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, said The Northern Echo poll reflected the feelings of his own constituents.

“People are fearful about what we could be getting ourselves into and what might happen,” he said.

Fellow Labour MP Ashok Kumar said he was happy to support military action, provided that firm evidence of weapons of mass destruction was available and that parliament was recalled for a debate.

Mr Kumar said: “I am not really surprised by The Northern Echo poll. The essential thing is to produce the evidence that is needed so that we can carry the public with us.”

The feeling of many was summed up by pub landlord Neil Hetherington, who runs the Nags Head in Sedgefield.

He said: “Tony Blair seems to be like George Bush’s puppet. We should only go to war if there is a genuine threat against us.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “He is aware of different opinion on this issue. People, though, are getting too far ahead of themselves as we are not yet at the point where a decision needs to be made.”

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