One issue has defined Tony Blair's legacy, perhaps destroyed it: foreign policy, or rather Iraq, the Middle East crisis and the Prime Minister's uncritical support for George W Bush. Over the summer, as Israeli forces swept north across the border into Lebanon, even the most loyal ministers could not take it any more. One of them was David Miliband, a former policy chief at Downing Street and everyone's next-leader-but-one.
Miliband, who had just been promoted to Environment Secretary, was reported as telling a cabinet meeting at the end of July: "Where is this all going to end?"
Until this past week, Miliband has refused to elaborate, for fear of undermining further a leader who has treated him well. But this has not been one of those ordinary weeks in politics. Many MPs saw Blair's refusal to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon in the first weeks of the conflict as the last straw. So how did Miliband feel about it?
"I don't think anyone was relaxed about the situation," he says. He does not deny making the remarks to cabinet. "I felt very worried because, put it this way, I don't think that Israel is safer and stronger now than it was two months ago. I don't think the prospects of a secure and just two -state settlement in the Middle East are closer than they were two months ago."
Miliband's approach to international affairs is based on a different understanding of Britain's role from that of his older cabinet colleagues. His group of politicians--the thirty--and fortysomethings--sees no need to prove his party's credentials towards America or anywhere else. Ronald Reagan's refusal to meet Neil Kinnock in 1987, in protest at Labour's anti-nuclear position, is, to Miliband, ancient history. To others it is not, and this is where the …