Weaponising Tony Blair

Blair smilingRegulars round these parts know I’m not a fan of Tony Blair. I don’t think much of his record in office, though I do recognise his legacy was more complex than Iraq and neoliberalism with a smile. Nor was I too enamoured of his new year interventions, which were widely read as a pop at Ed Miliband. If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all in my humble opinion. Well, a month on and there’s been a bit of a volte-face. The Observer reported on a reconciliation between the offices of the former and current leader, with Blair apparently happy to do whatever the party requires of him in the general election campaign. Continue reading

Statement by a former Labour Leader on the death of a brutal dictator… breathtaking

Blair and AbdullahThis statement was issued by the Tony Blair office today:

I am very sad indeed to hear of the passing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

I knew him well and admired him greatly. Despite the turmoil of events in the region around him, he remained a stable and sound ally, was a patient and skilful moderniser of his country leading it step by step into the future. He was a staunch advocate of inter faith relations. He founded KAUST, the science and technology university where women and men are educated equally. And today there are more women in higher education than men. He allowed thousands to be educated abroad people who have experience of the world and will play a big part in the future of the country. He appointed women Ministers. He invested in renewable energy. And of course he launched the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 which has stood the test of time as a potential basis for a solution to the Israeli Palestine issue.

He was loved by his people and will be deeply missed.

Quite how Mr Blair who claimed to reaches the conclusion that the brutal dictator of Saudi Arabia was “loved by his people” is unclear. For someone who still claims to have moved away from ideology to making evidence-based judgements, he seems stuck in the ideology not on this occasion of neoliberalism but of feudalism. Continue reading

Chilcot: Establishment writes its own rules to evade embarrassment

david cameron and tony blairThe Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war (March-April 2003, nearly 12 years ago) was set up in 2009 and took public evidence from its last witness in 2011. The announcement yesterday that the report after 6 years on inquiry is being strung out until after the election this May is truly scandalous. Cameron has tried to wash his hands of it by saying that he is not responsible and the inquiry is independent doesn’t wash. He closed down the Gibson inquiry into alleged UK involvement in US rendition when it became clear that its revelations could be highly embarrassing to the UK authorities, so there is no question that he could set a time limit for the Chilcot inquiry if he really wanted to.

What makes it all the more scandalous is not that more time is needed to complete the report (it has been completed), but rather that those criticised in the report have been given the option of indefinitely delaying its publication as a result of being given prior access to what it says about them and then being allowed endlessly to prevaricate by haggling over every detail they don’t like. On a matter that affects the whole nation and has left an abiding imprint of deep shame, this is outrageous. Continue reading

Blair pays less tax as business continues to boom (for him)

greedy BlairTony Blair (trading as Tony Blair Associates or TBA) suffered a  in profits last year according to the accounts of some of the principal companies in his complex network of companies and partnerships he maintains, presumably to obscure his true ‘worth’ and earnings and to limit his tax liabilities. Profits of Windrush Ventures limited dropped from £2.8m to £1,2m (as a result of which tax paid fell from £514,000 to £293,000) although turnover held up well (dropping from £14.9m to £14.2m). The Financial Times says of these arrangements: Continue reading

Blair had the wrong programme not the “wrong voters”

blair with red backgroundSorry to get snoring boring about Tony Blair once more, but I have to say a few words about the silly phrasing Neal Lawson used while penning a New Year’s message to the former Labour leader. The first rule of polemic is not to hand your opponent a shield that can parry your blows, and that is exactly what Neal did. By dropping in “your majority was too big” and “but in hindsight the wrong people were voting Labour“, he allowed himself to be painted as both a naïf and someone not serious about electoral politics. No wonder the remaining friends of Blair, such as John Rentoul, Dan Hodges, and some over at Uncut were able to make hay. They were able to body swerve the core of the argument – that Labour was always going to win in ’97, that the New Labour guff was unnecessary, that in power Blair was dismally unambitious and championed British capital to the exclusion of all else. A good job for them too because it’s an inconvenient truth some would prefer not to deal with. Continue reading