Bush will kick Blair if it means re-election

Tony Blair was forced to concede to an inquiry into the existence or otherwise of weapons of mass destruction because his partner in crime George Bush had already done so, writes Charlie Whelan.

The Butler inquiry will, of course, shed no more light on the whole issue than Hutton did. If you thought Hutton was establishment, just wait until Lord Butler reports. As a former head of the civil service, he will be about as thorough in his investigation as his replacement was in finding Blair had done no wrong in letting Cherie dip into his 'blind trust' to buy a couple of flats. He was also the man who actually believed Jonathan Aitken's lies.

Whereas Butler presents Blair with few problems, George Bush presents one big one. The President now has a real fight on his hands to get re-elected and no one will be allowed to get in his way, even his closest allies. The Prime Minister still believes it will be good PR to pay his friend a visit in the run-up to the election, presumably to lend support to his campaign. He seems to believe Bush getting re-elected will help Labour win the general election. He has to be joking. The reality is that Bush looks more and more likely to follow in his father's footsteps and become a one-term President.

John Kerry, who now looks certain to win the Democratic nomination, is fighting a superb PR campaign against Bush, with polls now indicating he is ahead. Of course, the economy will probably determine the eventual outcome, but the war has been every bit as disastrous for Bush as it has for Blair. What's worse for Bush is that his own military record is coming under the microscope as never before, mainly because Kerry is a genuine war hero.

During Vietnam, George Bush Snr ensured his namesake son got called up to the National Guard. It is even believed that he went AWOL from that too. This PR battle between the man who won medals and the one who never wanted to is now raging in the US; and even if some of the allegations against Bush aren't true, mud sticks - especially to a man who is seen to have screwed up the war.

Bush won't take this lying down. He will do anything to get out of the mess he has created in Iraq, even rat on his friends. Blamed for crap intelligence, the CIA will want to pass the buck, and where better than MI6, which came out with the 45-minute rubbish? The CIA director has already said how much sensitive reports from 'foreign partners' influenced his thinking. When these reports are proved to be wrong, the CIA and Bush will have found someone else to blame.

The Prime Minister should ditch Bush before it's too late. This will not only be popular with the voters but also restore trust with his MPs.

Don't hold your breath, though.

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