He fears that the long shadow of the Iraq war is diminishing the UK as an actor on the world stage. He suspects that part of the reason David Cameron was defeated in the Commons when he proposed to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons was a “sense of guilt” over Iraq.
Clarke opposed the war at the time – unlike David Cameron and the majority of Tories – but acquits Tony Blair of the charge that he deliberately lied over Iraq’s weaponry. He remembers Blair addressing the Commons long after the invasion, still arguing his case with total conviction like “the last man living who still really believes they are going to find weapons of mass destruction…
"One of the funniest things ever said to me about Tony Blair – it was by Paddy Ashdown – was: ‘The trouble with Tony is that he always believes everything he says when he is saying it’."It is enjoying a summer break at the moment, but this is a chance to say how good McSmith's diary in the Independent is.
In an era when other such columns subsist on yesterday's leavings from social media, he still finds original stories.