Editorial comment.

Author:Lancaster, Pat
Position:CURRENT AFFAIRS - Editorial

I didn't agree with Britain joining forces with President George Bush to launch a war in Iraq. And I marched, with over a million others, through the streets of London in February 2003 in the hope of urging the Prime Minister to change his mind. He didn't.

Although, I have it on good authority that Mr Blair is a reader of/he Middle East, he has repeatedly turned down requests to be interviewed by us on his regional policies which, I confess, put another bee in my anti-Blair bonnet.

Like much of the British electorate I was not sorry to see him leave 10 Downing Street in July. Nothing personal Tony, domestically you have made some good and important changes and your policy in Kosovo, which saved many Muslim lives, was impressive but I think you made a spectacularly bad decision over Iraq, for which I cannot forgive you.

While your sagacious and erudite advisors urged caution and restraint and a huge part of the British electorate cried out for further international intervention before invasion, you and your mate George blundered clumsily into all out war, with all the political finesse of a pair of high spirited short trousered schoolboys on a scrumping expedition in a private orchard.

I am just six months younger than Mr Blair, born in the same year and in the same locality as his wife Cherie. I have friends who know and have worked with the Blairs who insist that I would like them. I have met and talked to a number of Mr Blair's cabinet ministers and, generally, been impressed. I really want to trust Mr Blair but which ever way I try to look at it, I can't help coming back to the Iraqi debacle.

It was for this reason I was perturbed to hear that, having thought I had seen the back of Tony, when he left Downing Street and resigned from his parliamentary constituency, he popped up frighteningly close to home as Middle East envoy to the international Quartet, comprising the EU, US, Russia and the UN.

So, now it looks as if I am stuck with Tony, and he is stuck with me; not an admirer, not a sycophant, not even somebody who thinks we have got the right man for the job. However, since I firmly believe that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is probably the most important political issue of our time, I am prepared to give him a chance.

One of his great achievements as British prime minister was in Northern Ireland where, after generations of internecine fighting, there is now peace. Nobel Peace Prize winner Miread Corrigan Maguire...

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