When the going gets tough, Tony gets nasty. . .

Peter Mckay

Last updated at 00:00 17 February 2003

TONY BLAIR'S 'trust me, I'm a regular guy' act fails those who want a war against Iraq and those who don't. There's a respectable case for using force to disarm Saddam Hussein, but the slippery Mr Blair and his cohorts with their cobbled-together dossiers, security scares and take-it- or-leave-it rhetoric betrays it.

You would no longer buy a used ex-Army truck from this man, let alone an argument for war. He's long on exhortation but short on sincerity. We see a nasty side to him when he doesn't get his own way.

Instead of patiently and with good humour tackling their arguments one by one - as a decent leader with genuine humility would do - the Prime Minister insults those who don't want a war with Iraq by suggesting Saturday's marchers were dupes who'll have the blood of innocent Iraqis on their hands.

That's a disgraceful thing for a premier to do. It's arrogant, highhanded and plain nasty. He forgets he's our servant, and we're not his. In his Glasgow speech, Mr Blair said: 'I do not seek unpopularity as some badge of honour, but sometimes it's the price of leadership.' What preening nonsense.

We know perfectly well he didn't set out to be unpopular. He found himself there - to his great surprise - after failing to talk us into supporting war. He can't change his mind now without looking ridiculous.

Would he be urging an attack on Iraq if this wasn't the desire of President George W. Bush? Of course not. Would America have supported Britain if we'd had the idea of arranging 'regime-change' in Iraq? Not a chance.

Mr Blair's attachment to Mr Bush is one of the wonders of the age.

Historians will write lengthy volumes about it, especially if it leads to Mr Blair's undoing.

Who'd have thought a Labour Prime Minister would give unstinting support to a dodgilyelected Republican president so Rightwing that some of America's wealthiest people have got together to protest about the tax advantages he's fixed for the rich?

Mr Bush and his people take our support for granted. The President doesn't come here to explain his aims. Nor does he address us directly. He sees this as a leader-to-leader conversation. There's no need to involve us, though we'll be paying our full share of the cost.

It comes down to trust. Do you have faith in Messrs Bush and Blair? Are they wise leaders doing their best for their people - or, damaged, untrustworthy individuals who'll say and do almost anything in order to preserve their power?

Mr Bush is difficult to judge. Every single public utterance he makes is scripted. Even then, he makes a Horlicks of simple statements. Broadly speaking, though, his presidency is characterised as toadying to the rich and spitting in the faces of the poor.

He's only had one job to do since September 11, 2001: find and punish those responsible for the carnage as well as prevent it happening again.

After bombing the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan his campaign against terrorism has lost focus.

In a terrifyingly short space of time, America under George W. Bush has squandered the sympathy all but the worst Islamic bigots felt for the victims of September 11 and their families.

OSAMA bin Laden and Mullah Omar have become joke figures in America. (A New York paper suggested last week that, since he's rich, elderly and ill, the Government should ask fortune-hunting Anna Nicole Smith to find Mr bin Laden).

After almost six years in power, Mr Blair's credibility is low. You could have a million-plus march every day of those who feel let down by his failure to reform the NHS, tackle serious crime and do something to improve public transport. Mr Blair's perksenjoying crony, Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine, is worth a Whitehallswamping protest march all on his own.

This Government is tired, seedy and hasn't done a thing for the country.

Unless there's a miracle, Mr Blair can look forward to retiring on a pension worth more than Pounds 3 million but not the thanks of those who put their trust in him.