Saturday, 29 March 2003

Even if he wins the war, Blair has been humiliated

It may not be time to write the PM's obituary, but he has had a truly disastrous week

by Jonathan Freedland


Tony Blair could still get his Churchill moment. Basra might fall, Baghdad could follow, with the British and Americans finally winning their long-promised tears-and-cheers welcome from a grateful Iraqi nation - and Blair would be vindicated as surely as Winston Churchill was six decades ago.

If that happens, the prime minister will carry all before him. "The doom-mongers got it wrong once again," he will say, allowing himself a wry smile. "They lost heart because the first days of war were difficult; they forgot that Kosovo and Afghanistan had their dark days too. But we stuck with it and we were proved right." Any doubters on future plans - domestic or foreign - will be swept aside. Opponents will be lumped in with the anti-war crowd: naysayers who lack the PM's wisdom and vision. For Tony Blair, victory in Iraq will mean victory everywhere.

But this week another scenario hoved into view. We are not there yet, not by any means, but in the past few days we have glimpsed an alternative future - one in which this ill-thought out and badly planned war claims the prime ministership of Tony Blair as yet another of its unintended victims.

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