Spanish politician labels Blair an 'imbecile' on live television
By Isambard Wilkinson in Madrid
Tony Blair has been called "a complete dickhead" by a leading Spanish politician live on television. The comment was made by Jose Bono, one of the three most powerful figures in the Socialist Party. His remarks were not intended to be heard, but were recorded by a television team while he was talking to Joaquin Almunia, a former Socialist leader.
Mr Bono said: "Hey, and our colleague Blair? He's a complete dickhead (un gilipollas integral). He's an imbecile."
The comments contrast with the Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar's carefully cultivated friendship with Mr Blair and will embarrass the Socialists.
The party is irritated by Mr Blair's friendship with Mr Aznar and dislikes the resulting Anglo-Spanish alliance.
There is little question that were Spain's conservatives to lose power, the London-Madrid axis would collapse.
Mr Bono, a staunch Catholic, is regarded as a potential leader of the Socialist Party of Spanish Workers.
The present leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, could be dropped if Mr Aznar's centre-Right People's Party wins a predicted third successive victory in the March 14 elections. That would mirror the upheaval in the Popular Party where Mr Aznar will step down at the election and make way for his successor Mariano Rajoy.
Mr Rajoy will visit Downing Street this week to cement the relationship with Britain.