Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tony Blair's millions


Today's First Post reports:

As the stock market plummets and house prices slump, Tony Blair, the man who as Prime Minister championed the "light touch" system of financial regulation blamed by many for the current crisis, is enjoying an unprecedented boom in his fortunes. The Times reveals today that the former Prime Minister's earnings in his first year since leaving Downing Street topped £12 million, more than six times his previous lifetime income.

The lion's share of his income does not come from his various advisory jobs, but from the lucrative international lecture circuit where he is now said to be the highest-paid speaker in the world. Since his first gig last October, Blair is understood to have earned £5.3m, which is even more than Bill Clinton did in his first year after leaving the White House.

Blair, who works exclusively through the blue-chip Washington Speakers Bureau, is certainly popular – there is currently a two-year waiting list for bookings, with clients prepared to pay $250,000 for a typical speech of roughly 90 minutes.


In my 2007 Spectator review of Geoffrey Wheatcroft's book 'Yo, Blair!' I wrote:
By his endless war-making, he has destroyed one English tradition which had found a home in the Labour Party — the radical tradition of pacifism and non-interventionism. And by his attack on ancient civil liberties, carried out in the name of the ‘war against terror’, he has destroyed another — the liberal tradition.

Why was it all done?

Blair’s apologists would like us to believe that their man acted out of conviction, but the truth may be rather more prosaic. The going rates for retired politicians on the American lecture circuit are impressive: Bill Clinton gets $250,000 a time, and Blair, as Washington’s most loyal lapdog, will certainly be at the top of the scale. In addition, there are those lucrative book contracts. As Wheatcroft concludes, vast numbers of lives may have been cruelly sacrificed by the Iraq enterprise, but Anthony Charles Linton Blair will surely be a richer man as a result.


Anyone out there who still thinks Blair acted out of 'conviction'?

5 comments:

Nick said...

"Light touch"? Surely that's a joke! But yes, I think he acted out of conviction - a conviction that feathering his own nest (and that of his bizarre wife) was more important than governing for the benefit of his country and its citizens.

jock mctrousers said...

Yes, Nick has it right. I think it's the public school training - they're brought up to see the oiks as prey, and that everyone's full of shit so why should they be any better. Same as street muggers but better connected.

KNaylor said...

'Anyone out there who still thinks Blair acted out of 'conviction'?

Yeah, Blair.

That's the real point as Blair peddled tele-evangelical kitsch from the beginning in 1994.

Old Tories drawing on a deeper the pessimistic strain of conservatism like myself, who saw how 'progressive politics' of Blair could dovetail with a catastrophic indifference to reality, were written off as cranks but we were right.

The vice here is the reduction of politics to PR instead of the clash of political opinions contending over what's truly at stake and what truly matters to the destiny of nations in Parliament, polemic and the papers.

Few now are of independent mind or have reached political views through a process of thought they have developed on their own. Instead of just being fake and trying to please those they know will lap up the curreny market for cliches and pre-formulated opinions.

The important thing to succeed in politics or business is that one becomes a thought parasite , trying to feed back to people what sounds good, eases their consciences and rationalises greed, rapacity, and the uncontested right of mediocrity to occupy positions of power and influence.

It's futile to blame Blair for being Blair, because he only gave enough British people what they thought they 'really wanted' , no less than trashy tabloids, banal adverts, and the one-dimensional consumer society.

Blair can rationalise accruing his great wealth because it's 'motivators' like him that set forward progress and the wealth creation process in perfect tandem.

Leading from the front. Innovation. Raising the standard. Standardising the raised standards in wealth. Balancing rights with responsibilities, squaring circles, tailoring sententious vacuous guff with specific current client needs.

So long as the economy seemed to be 'delivering' then the pseudo-religious and mind numbing up beat boosterism could be farted through whiffling soundbites that left a lingering sensation for as long as required.

He got paid for being a megaphone for the aspirations of 'the people' entering the millennium and like a method actor he came to believe in that role, surrrounded as he was by craven sychophants who projected their vapid fantasies on to the totemic idol.

Now in the USA you'll see more of it from Obama.

Charlie Marks said...

Let's hope his next conviction is criminal!

Dan said...

Excellent as usual Neil;
I'm just wondering if Pierce has read your article before his Telegraph piece about Blair's millions. I bet he did.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/3276585/Tony-Blair-earns-12m-since-leaving-Downing-Street.html