For all Tony Blair’s great achievements in office, the British public will never forgive him for taking us to war.
That is the conventional wisdom, anyway.
Personally, I am not so sure. We Brits can be quite a forgiving bunch, particularly when it comes to beating up Johnny Foreigner.
Rightly or wrongly, I suspect many British people were always quietly pleased we wiped that smug grin off Saddam Hussein’s face. For others, the indignation will fade.
“You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”, say those old enough to remember the invasion.
“Whatevs”, say those who were not.
If there is something the British public will not forgive Blair for, it is not Iraq. Nor is it his abolition of Clause 4, introduction of university tuition fees, or cosying up to crackpots like Colonel Gaddafi, Robert Mugabe or even George W. Bush.
For vast swathes of the population, phony Tony’s most damning moment will always be his alleged mis-recollections of watching his “beloved” Newcastle United as a boy.
“Tony Blair?” we will mutter in our dotage, eyes glazing over beneath the cataracts, “wasn’t he the one that lied about watching Jackie Milburn in the Gallowgate End?”
As it happens, he did not lie. His comments were misreported by a Newcastle newspaper.
Still, such details are irrelevant. We knew he did not really like football and that he was faking an interest to boost his populist credentials.
So what if the evidence was flawed? There is no smoke without fire, and we all know a wrong’un when we see one. (Oh Tony, you taught us so well.)
I mention all of this because David Cameron appeared to suffer his Gallowgate moment this week, musing fondly about how his daughter badgered him into voting for Will Young on Pop Idol.
Great story, Dave. Bang on trend. Loving the family angle and the slightly downmarket positioning.
Just one small problem, though: your daughter was not alive when Will Young won his talent show. In fact, none of your children were.
They are almost identical crimes: two harmless little fibs which did not tally with the facts.
However, it will be fascinating to see whether Cameron’s X Factor fib defines him in the way Blair’s plastic Toonery did.
My prediction is that it will not. Partly, this will be down to the fact that singing contests are not held in as high esteem as football clubs: the former is a bit of fun, the latter a quasi-religion.
More damningly, however, we will not get as aerated by Cameron’s fib because such treachery no longer has the power to shock.
He is a former PR man living in an age of spin – of course he lies.
To be remembered as a shocking liar or as a man who thrived in an age when lying was considered normal. I am not sure which epitaph is more damning.