GULLIBLE, nave and a poor judge of character: I may be all those things, but in the ten years since I first met Tony Blair I have always believed that he is a decent, honest and trustworthy human being. Admirable, even.

You may scoff, but in person he is not the "phoney Tony" who smiles hugely and says whatever soundbite he thinks you want to hear. Instead, he comes across as a very likeable fellow who has a genuine and passionate commitment to improving the lot of the ordinary person.

Now, though, he is asking me to take on trust - without any demonstrable proof - that it is right for him to destroy the lot, and probably the lives, of thousands of ordinary people.

Amazingly, it wouldn't take much to convince me of the merits of this mass slaughter of humanity.

After all, Saddam Hussein is thoroughly evil and the world would be best without him.

After all, if the United Nations is to stand for anything, it has to stand up to a country that has so flagrantly flouted its resolutions.

And after all, Tony Blair was right about Kosovo and Afghanistan; he is right about the need to sort out the Palestinian problem; and his handling of George Bush since September 11 has not just been right, it has been impeccable.

Indeed, since I first met him clinging to the radiator in Myrobella House in Trimdon as he explained at great length why the Labour Party had to radically modernise if it were ever to be elected (and he was right about that, too), he has done pretty well for himself. Back then, he was barely a household name in Sedgefield; now he is the only person in the world who could seriously suggest to Mr Bush, as he did yesterday, that the American president should stay his nuclear holocaust for a couple of weeks while international support grew.

Yet still I cannot bring myself to commit to his war.

It all comes down to evidence. The weapons inspectors have found no damning evidence; and even if there were evidence of weapons there is no evidence that they would be a real threat to the West; and there is no evidence to link Iraq with the very real danger posed by the sinister forces of al Qaida (in fact, the evidence that exists points the other way as fundamentalist Osama bin Laden said the secular Saddam Hussein was "a bad Muslim").

But the only debate at the moment is whether the Russians can be bought off with money for their ailing economy and a blind eye towards Chechnya, and whether the fussy French will fold as ever at the last minute, so that the UN passes a second resolution. This will make the war look right - but there will still be no evidence to say that the war is right.

And yet I know, from ten years of fairly close observation, that Mr Blair is not the sort of person who will casually kill thousands of innocent Iraqis without due reason. He will not, I'm certain of it.

But still I doubt. So as well as being gullible and nave, a list of my character defects also now includes treacherous disloyalty.