OVER the next few days and weeks George Bush and Tony Blair will attempt to muster support for military action against Iraq.

The President initiated proceedings in his State of the Union address, asserting that Saddam Hussein supported and protected terrorists, including members of al Qaida.

His sentiments were echoed by the Prime Minister, who told the House of Commons that there was evidence linking Iraq and Osama bin Laden's network.

This allegation represents a new tack for the US and Britain, who previously said there was no suggestion of a link between Saddam and the September 11 terror attacks.

It is clear now that an invasion of Iraq will be justified on two counts. Firstly, on the long-standing charge that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction which pose a threat to world security. And now a second charge that Iraq has links with terrorist organisations.

The time for trial by innuendo has to end.

If the US and Britain has evidence that Saddam is guilty on either charge, then they should make it public.

If they do not have the proof then they should give the United Nations weapons inspection teams the time to verify the allegations.

Mr Blair yesterday appealed for national unity against Iraq. He warned that any division in public opinion would undermine efforts to disarm Saddam.

It is unfair of Mr Blair to make such an appeal. It is not for those who question the justification for military action to keep quiet.

It is time for Mr Blair to provide the evidence which justifies putting the lives of our armed forces at risk.

That is the way to create national unity and strengthen efforts to disarm Saddam.

Royal secrets

IN today's age of scrutiny by the mass media it is difficult to imagine events within the Royal Family escaping the attention of the public.

How different it was 67 years ago, when the monarch could have an affair with an American divorcee, with only a few people aware of the constitutional crisis.