Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "It's all the fault of the French"

What's the difference between a slice of toast and a Frenchman? You can make a soldier with your toast. What do you call a French soldier defending Paris? I don't know, there's never been one.

I didn't get these so-called jokes from the Sun but from a pro-war Labour MP.

I was in Westminster to hear Robin Cook's resignation speech. There is no doubt in my mind that, given a free vote, the majority of Labour MPs would have joined the former leader of the House the next day in voting against the government motion supporting an attack on Iraq. Only the most Blairite MPs believed the pathetic line blaming everything on the French.

No 10 always knew that it would have trouble winning a second UN resolution but it thought that a majority of the Security Council would support one. Hence, the PM's stance against an "unreasonable" veto. He failed to convince anyone of the need for immediate war, and the French became a convenient scapegoat for Britain's failed diplomacy.

Alastair Campbell was behind this line, which was despatched to all the key spokespeople in the usual manner. I didn't actually see the "line for the day" sent out - I'm not on the list any more. But I didn't need to: I heard the same rubbish pouring out of every pro-war MP's mouth. Given that none of those parroting the line believed a word of it, how on earth do they expect the rest of us to buy it?

There was just one MP who seemed to have accepted this nonsense and that was none other than Bomber Short. I can't repeat what MPs from all sides were saying about her after Cook's principled stand, but it was far worse than what the Sun has been calling the French president.

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