May I speak in defence of Tony Blair?
TO ME, the one constant throughout Tony Blair's reign at Number 10 was that nothing was ever as it seemed.
That's not to say nothing positive came from Blair's time in charge - it did. It's just that Labour always seemed determined to put a shinier gloss on even the most positive of upbeat stories.
He was often accused of being false, and of trying to be everything to everyone - ironically, both allegations now put at the feet of David Cameron.
To that end, it would have fitted the Blair form book if, when given the chance to express regret at the Iraq Inquiry on Friday, he'd have turned round and bowed to the so-called public mood and said he regretted what happened.
The surprise was that he insisted he didn't have regrets about the decision he'd taken. And the anti-war protestors and families of soldiers killed in action responded in force to the fact he'd not said sorry.
But to suggest that Blair doesn't regret loss of British soldiers, just because he didn't say so on Friday, is to paint an unfair picture of Blair. Countless times he has spoken of the bravery of our soliders, expressed sorrow at deaths of our soldiers, and insisted that they died doing something which will make the world a better place.
Of course, whether Britain is a safer place as a result of our involvement in Iraq is hard to call. There was no obvious link between terrorism and Saddam Hussein, and Blair pointed out this was a key difference in thinking between America and Britain. But Blair clearly believed there was the potential for Iraq to become a hiding place for the same terrorists.
And he clearly believes he still made the right decision. And he's perhaps the only politician so far not to have sought to pass the buck when sitting before the inquiry. Lord Goldsmith, Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon have all sought to suggest they weren't as emphatically behind the war as was thought in 2003.
Yet all lacked the courage to do as Clare Short did, or as government lawyer Elizabeth Wilmshurst did, and resign in protest.
The Iraq inquiry may yet rule that Blair's build up to war, with question marks over legal advice and the dodgy dossier, could have been handled better.
But Blair proved he remains convinced he was right on Iraq. And given the current PM is prone to dithering, while Cameron flip flops more than a pair of summer sandals, a leader who is convinced he is right seems quite a positive notion at the moment.
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