It has recently been revealed that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair earnt £41,000 per month from a Saudi oil company, as well as 2% commission on any deal he helped them secure. Blair has also been making extra cash through providing PR tips to dictators who have recently killed off protestors in return for around £7 million.
His exploitation of questionable political regimes doesn’t stop here though. He’s also working with BP and the Azerbaijini government to help the construction of a pipeline run smoothly in the face of opposition. Many of his activities as a consultant seem to revolve around subverting democracy and manipulating public perceptions through offering PR counsel to rogue regimes (whatever pays the bills!).
Tony Blair’s ‘business’ and ‘charity’ dealings are shrouded in mystery and as Seamus Milne said in the Guardian the former leader now ‘embodies corruption and war’. Tony Blair Associates, his consultancy company, appears to be more about getting rich off propping up dictatorships than any strong political agenda. Human Rights Watch, commenting on his relationship with the Kazakh regime described Blair as ‘shameless’ Yet, he rarely receives the criticism or scrutiny he deserves. There are odd pieces in big publications, such as this in The New York Times, but generally speaking the majority of people don’t really care what New Labour’s former darling is up to in his spare time. Other than from firebrands on the left, there aren’t widespread calls for him to be held accountable for his actions. Nor is his wealth widely scrutinized.
Since leaving office he has gotten rich by presenting himself as a ‘globe-trotting-do-gooder’ when in reality he is a bit more of a globe-trotting-hustler using the political connections he amassed as a politician to gain a huge personal fortune and embed himself with some of the world’s most corrupt (but also rich) regimes. He counts amongst his friends the questionable leader of Rwanda Paul Kagame who is implicated in war crimes during the Rwandan Genocide and more recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has also undoubtedly used his role as Middle Eastern envoy to push his business agenda and personally profit.
Can we really be surprised though? Blair wasn’t much better when he was in power. He was responsible for the scandal involving LSE and Gadaffi. He also used to enjoy luxurious family holidays in Egypt for free courtesy of Hosni Mubarak. Blair was never a model of democratic values or justice that he presented himself (few modern leaders- if any- are). Let us not forget the illegal war he started in Iraq…
What we can take from this is clear. Many people get into politics clearly keep an eye on their second coming after they leave office. We see this on a huge scale with politicians who aren’t even at the same level of profile as Tony Blair who leave public office and trip over each other in a rush to join the private sector and gain a big pay day.
Politics is a dirty old game and few come dirtier than Blair whose actions almost border on illegality. Were he a former rule of an African state and these allegations had arisen there would be public outcry. ‘Liberal’ members of the media and the House of Parliament would be tripping over each other to condemn the acts of this rogue politician. But, few in Parliament question the motives or actions of Tony Blair. Why? Much of it is to do with the fact that many of them will follow suit and similarly look to exploit their connections. Blair has just done this on a huge scale, possibly the hugest scale of any former British politician. In many respects his career has just begun since leaving office as he gets richer and richer and delves even deeper into murkier moral territory. The latter doesn’t seem to bother him as long as the former is good.
Blair, like many members of the establishment, is concerned with profit above all else. He has been incredibly successful in amassing a personal fortune since leaving office and will continue to do so unchecked. He is now unaccountable and whilst many people in the UK dislike him few are calling for his head, not only should he be held accountable for the war in Iraq but he should also be unable to prop up foreign dictatorships and profit off of this. Tony Blair is someone who should be in prison, not utilizing his expertise at circumventing international law to get rich. The sooner people like him are weeded out of politics the better. The silence of current Westminster politician though, suggests that we have a long way to go at changing the nature of British politics, which like politics anywhere is about profit not morals. With Blair though, there exists gross double standard that he is allowed to behave in such a manner, when any politician from outside of Western Europe who was behaving in the same way would be vilified and probably hauled up in front of The Hague. Although to be fair, Italy are more progressive than Britain, having put Silvio Berlusconi behind bars for four years. This is a sorry state of affairs.
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