Paul Routledge: JACK'S WAR DRAGS ON.
FOREIGN Secretary Jack Straw occasionally lets the cat out of the bag in a totally non-New Labour fashion.
It is a refreshing tendency but that doesn't mean I always like to hear what he says.
Jack the Lad is now saying British troops could stay in Iraq for five - or even 10 - years. That is the length of time he thinks it will take for the country to become a stable democracy.
Iraq will never be a stable country. It is an artificial construct, with borders drawn by the masters of the British empire after the First World War.
It is composed of three main warring factions - the Kurds, who want independence, the Sunni Arabs who live in the central desert, and the Shia Arabs, who live in the oil-rich south.
No matter how long we stay there, no matter how many British squaddies spill their blood in the sand, we can never change the essential facts about this tortured nation. Joe Public understands that. That's why a BBC Newsnight poll showed 60 per cent in favour of withdrawal.