What a true statesman said about a war-monger:
Nelson Mandela expressed fury to the British government over Britain’s decision to join with the Americans in invading Iraq, it emerged yesterday.
The former South African president picked up the phone and called London to spell out his anger about the decision to join the US-led mission to topple Saddam Hussein.
He might be famed for his politeness, but in an extraordinary call to a member of Mr Blair’s Cabinet, Peter Hain, Mr Mandela’s angry feelings boiled over.
Diplomatic niceties were abandoned as he warned that Britain’s reputation around the world would suffer “huge damage” because of the invasion and that all the Blair administration’s good work in Africa would be forgotten.
Details of the call are disclosed in a new biography of Mr Mandela by Mr Hain, a long-standing friend who was Welsh Secretary at the time.
Mr Hain recalled: “He said: ‘A big mistake, Peter, a very big mistake. It is wrong. Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally’.”
He said last night that he had never encountered his old friend as angry as he was during that conversation: “He was virtually breathing fire down the phone on this and feeling a sense of betrayal.”