I met John Howard only once – at a breakfast in London – and he struck me as grumpy and charmless. I was obviously missing something. Howard was a phenomenally successful politician. He won four successive elections in Australia.
Now that he has finally lost, it is tempting to draw a general lesson – and there is an obvious one to hand. Foreign leaders who backed George Bush over Iraq have been punished. First Jose Maria Aznar, then Tony Blair. Now John Howard. One of Kevin Rudd’s first acts as Australian prime minister will be to start pulling troops out of Iraq.