I knew a woman in Northern Ireland who used to say that inside every man there was a wee boy trying to get out. It might be true.
I could never understand why Tony Blair wrecked his premiership and marred his place in history with the disastrous involvement in the Iraq War.
One friend suggested that the CIA must have something on him! The argument was that no-one would willingly sacrifice their name and their place in posterity for the sake of an adventure where there was no clear way out and that, therefore, someone must be applying pressure. It seemed and odd argument, what could he possibly have done?
Last week, it was suggested to me that the explanation was much simpler, that it came down to a simple matter of pride. In the days of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair liked to be seen at the White house. He might be the leader of a country that had not been a world power for a long time and that wasn’t even taken very seriously by its own neighbours, but with his best mate, big Bill beside him, little Tony was someone that people would listen to.
When Bill moved out of the White House, Tony counted on his friend Al Gore moving in. Instead George Bush, with whom Tony would not have formerly been a great friend, took up residence. But by this time Tony liked being around the White House and liked acting as though he were a big player in international affairs. Tony didn’t want to go back to being a regional politician like Herr Schroeder and Monsieur Chirac back in Europe.
So Tony struck up a friendship with George and when the events of 11th September 2001 took place, George assumed that someone who said he was a friend would act like a friend. Tony couldn’t back down, so British troops went to Afghanistan and to Iraq, and they are still there.
This hasn’t worked out well for Tony. Had there been a stronger opposition in Britain, he would have been thrown out of Government. As it was, he won the 2005 election with a share of the vote for the winning party that was a record low. It was left to his own party to tell him to go next spring.
I hope that this is a completely wrong reading of history and that Tony Blair has had more integrity than such a version of events would suggest. But I can hear the voice of the Belfast woman, “you’re a load of wee boys. Wee boys!”