Blair gets support on the home front

PRIME minister Tony Blair had a pretty rough time at the G8 summit this week – effectively being isolated as the main leader supporting the war in Iraq.

PRIME minister Tony Blair had a pretty rough time at the G8 summit this week – effectively being isolated as the main leader supporting the war in Iraq.

And his party back at Westminster isn't all happy about the failure of the allies to find the much-vaunted weapons of mass destruction that the war was supposed to be all about.

But one MP that won't be causing too much trouble for the premier – for the time being anyway – is Ipswich's Chris Mole.

Mr Mole is one of the Westminster "switchers."

He voted against the government in the first vote on the Iraq war – but supported them the second time it was debated just days before the fighting started.

Part of the reason for this switch was because of the imminent threat of biological or chemical weapons.

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But while many of his colleagues are getting edgy, Mr Mole isn't allowing himself to be fazed by the issue.

"There's still time for them to be unearthed. Iraq is a large country and it may be that we only find out the truth when we start questioning the scientists.

"So far as I am concerned there is still plenty of time for these weapons to be found – although if nothing has been turned up by the end of the summer then it might be necessary to have a full public inquiry."

Mr Mole said any inquiry would have to focus on the advice given to the government by security forces in the run up to the war – and how much spin was put on it by politicians and their advisors.

"That will be the key question – but we're still some way off that," he told me.

MY piece about car parking – and the way Ipswich moved to ease the problem while parks in Norwich and Colchester were demolished – touched a nerve in Essex.

I've had a rebuke from the Colchester Chamber of Commerce.

They point out that when the Queen Street Car Park was demolished in the 1990s, a new NCP park opened immediately nearby.

I'm happy to record that fact – but on the rare occasions I have been to Colchester shopping (note the use of the word rare) I've always found the place something a nightmare for parking.

You go round in circles. I always end up in the wrong lane – and when the car is parked, you find the shops are no better than those in Ipswich!

LABOUR might be determined to hold all the reins of power at Ipswich Buses – council leader Peter Gardiner this month insisted that the borough-owned company's directors would only come from the ruling group at Civic Centre – but it wasn't always so.

When Ipswich Buses was first created in 1987 after public transport deregulation, one of the directors was Tory councillor Graham Pulford.

Mr Pulford remained on the board until his sudden death in 1994.

When a replacement was needed at that stage, Labour chose one of their own – and the company has been a single-party state ever since.

I'M puzzled by all this talk about the government trying penalise smokers who won't give up the weed.

After all they pay more in taxes than the rest of us and their addiction plays a very important role in the economy in another way.

Because they usually die early, they save the nation a fortune in pensions!