The Sketch: Trojan Tony is a lesson for us all

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The Independent Online

I suppose when we're depressed enough to consider suicide we're usually just strong enough not to. "There's always tomorrow," we think. What courage we have, what resilience. What a desire for life we keep up, even when there's nothing to live for.

Tony Blair is magnificent in this regard. His appetite for existence is a lesson against despair. But what a toll it's taking on him: he's starting to look as though he really did the things people accuse him of.

No one disturbed him in PMQs. This, in the week when our once-bitten head of the security services in effect accused him of lying about national security. And what about the terrorists, murderers and sex offenders who were asked to join the Cabinet (or have the details got away from me?) and the 27,000 criminal records lying around the Home Office for seven years? No one made any of it stick. Cameron couldn't get past the PM's psychotic defence: "The problem is not the backlog," (what did that mean?) "the problem is there hasn't been a proper system of reporting."

There was a terrific answer to this which Cameron didn't have. One of his backbenchers had it. And he got it off an ex-Labour MP called Terry Davis who now runs something called the Council of Europe (a very different thing, for those of you who think they know about these things, from the European Council).

Terry has put out a press release attacking John Reid for blaming our failure to record criminal records on European delay. In fact, Robert Walter, the Tory backbencher with the press release said, a 2001 protocol was put out on this very subject and Britain has refused to ratify it.

Ker-rikey! As the PM might have said, in different circumstances. Instead he said, in his instant-psycho way: "He's completely wrong about that," (in what way?) "there was no proper system prior to 2005 and the decision of the European Council." Yes, but there was no proper system because we didn't ratify the wretched protocol.

And why didn't we? And why didn't the Home Secretary know about it? And why didn't Cameron know, or know Blair didn't know? Probably for the forgiveable reason that government is now so vast, so many-tiered and multi-dimensional there's too much to know. But the PM can't say that. His stubbornness is Trojan. Which is why he's still there.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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