It’s not often that a British Prime Minister appeals exclusively to the readers of one local newspaper in an impassioned defence of his policies.
But after the Wrexham Evening Leader – covering north-east Wales and Chester – had invited readers to voice their feelings on the impending Iraq conflict with the promise that all letters would then be sent to Downing Street, Tony Blair’s reaction was immediate.
The readers’ response was huge. The letters page was swamped with opinions – largely against military action – and the pages showing the strength of local feeling were duly dispatched to the Prime Minister’s office.
The result was the publication of Blair’s reply to Leader readers as a two-page spread under the strap headline “As the letters to the Evening Leader show, I am not taking this position for short-term political popularity.”
Blair argued against specific points raised by the paper’s readers and stated emphatically that he did not want military conflict but that Saddam Hussein might force the hand of war.