Leading article: Prime Ministerial fantasies

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His analysis of the carnage in Iraq was also deeply flawed. According to Mr Blair, the insurgents are fighting a war against democracy and it is the duty of the world to unite against them. But he makes no mention of the fact that it was the failed US occupation that let the insurgents into the country in the first place. Nor does he acknowledge that the US and UK troop presence is stoking the resistance.

Mr Blair has spent much of this past week attempting to chivvy the UN summit in New York into accepting a universal definition of terrorism. In this he has failed. The motion was rejected by the UN General Assembly. And yet Mr Blair confidently asserted yesterday that "people don't have much difficulty agreeing what it [terrorism] is". This is patently untrue, as we have seen. The Prime Minister was equally blasé when discussing the problems presented by proposed new anti-terrorism laws back in Britain. There is a "definition" problem here too. The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, this week unveiled plans to make the "glorification" of terrorism illegal. The Prime Minister casually brushed off suggestions that this could affect those sympathetic to past activities by the IRA or Palestinian militants. But this is an important issue. Poorly framed laws do far more harm than good.

The truth is that since returning from holiday, Mr Blair has displayed a remarkably detached approach to some vital areas of government business. This gives rise to the suspicion that he has one eye on life after Downing Street. It would have been gratifying if more of these points had been made to Mr Blair in yesterday's interview. We trust the Prime Minister's misleading generalisations - as well as his attitude to the job - will be subject to a more robust challenge upon his return to the UK.