At the Labour Party Conference the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made brave and effective speeches on domestic issues, the public services in particular. Their emphasis on the need for modernisation and for maintaining the pace of reforms already started was consistent and impressive. In terms of vision, commitment and presentation it is hard to see how their speeches could have been bettered. Critics will say, “All very well, but what about delivery?” In fact, much of what the Prime Minister, in particular, had to say was directed at the need to remove obstacles to delivery put in place by the trade unions. Yesterday he was talking over the heads of the unions to the conference delegates from the constituency parties – and even beyond the Blackpool conference hall to the wider constituency of those in the country who know that willingness to change, by both professionals and trade unionists, is the greatest barrier to improvement of the public services.

On Iraq, Mr Blair was less impressive. His formulation that “the authority of the United Nations will be at stake” should the Security Council fail to agree on use of force if Iraq remains in breach of UN resolutions, does not recognise that the entity known as the United Nations is essentially its member states and their majority opinion. It that opinion does not coincide with the views of the United States and Britain, it does not mean that the UN has lost its authority.

Ray Fleming

Seeing doubles

A new and hitherto unanticipated problem has arisen over the Iraq situation. Finding a way to topple Saddam Hussein has seemed difficult enough but it has suddenly become three times more difficult. According to evidence presented at a conference in Germany at the weekend, Saddam has no fewer than three “doubles”. Careful examination of 450 recent photographs of the Iraqi leader have shown small, but significant, differences in the facial characteristics of the man officially identified as Saddam Hussein. The research has been undertaken by Dieter Buhmann, a forensic pathologist, who told the conference: “The anatomical specificity of the faces are different. One, for instance, has a very large middle face, The distance from one ear to the other is very much different to Saddam Hussein. In another case the region under the mouth is too small and not high enough.” There have been similar stories for many years but none with such careful scientific back–up. The only problem in accepting the new evidence is that we do not know how Dr Buhmann has determined which of the four faces is the real Saddam Hussein.

So, if the American plan for regime change involves the possibility of assassination – and there have been reports that it does – how will those given the job know that they have got the right man? Since those closest to Saddam are most dependent on him, would they immediately vouch for the authenticity of another of the doppelgangers?



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