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'?