The poodle factor
In Whitehall they call it "the poodle factor" - the widespread perception that Britain is America's poodle or, more specifically, that Tony "Yo" Blair is George Bush's. This is the only reason I can identify for the foreign secretary cutting up rough about US planes carrying bombs for Israel using Prestwick airport as a stopover.
The key question in this affair is: "Would the British government have said yes if the Americans had asked?"
The answer, I'm told, is "yes".
Indeed, the next few weeks will see more such flights. But under CAA regulations the carriage of dangerous goods has to be notified and in this case there was no notification. Failure to tell the authorities can result in a fine of - wait for it - £5,000. Hardly enough to cause even a transatlantic ripple.
Margaret Beckett is making a stand - making it clear that the UK should have been asked. It's an argument which might appear to be about mere process but is really about pride, politics and poodles.
This a day before Tony Blair turns up at the White House.