Britain plans gulf war victory parade WAR IN THE GULF

March 05, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,London Bureau of The Sun

LONDON -- British forces returning from the gulf will stage a victory parade, despite initial misgivings by Prime Minister John Major and criticism from a church leader.

The bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. David Jenkins, denounced the parade plans as "obscene" and warned that the war would become a "disaster" if it led to "triumphalism."

Mr. Major, according to sources, decided to back the parade after being convinced it would have the support of all parties and would be a national celebration.

"He has formed his view based on the military enthusiasm for a parade and the public reaction. He is most anxious there is no political reason behind any parade," said one Downing Street official.

Michael Mates, Conservative Party member of the House of Commons Defense Committee, said: "The people of this country want to say 'thank you' to the soldiers for the way they have done their job.

"It need not be based on triumphalism."

Mr. Major had hesitated at first, fearing that he would be open to charges of political opportunism.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had no such misgivings in 1982 when she ordered a victory parade after the Falklands war to honor the returning troops, saying: "Military parades and pageants are part of the history of the City of London."

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