Andy McSmith's Diary: It’s not the money - Blair just wants to 'make a difference'

Being an ex-Prime Minister is vastly more lucrative than actually doing the job

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Indy Politics

Monday’s humble brag of the day came from Tony Blair, who repudiated the suggestion that he is worth £100m with the jokey comment “Cherie’s kind of asked me where it is.” He is not even trying to make money, he implied, because “It’s not about making money, it’s about making a difference” – though he did leave the possibility hanging in the air that he had amassed, say, £20m.

Being an ex-Prime Minister is vastly more lucrative than actually doing the job. Gordon Brown would be exceedingly rich by now, except that he puts all the money he makes outside Parliament into the Office of Gordon & Sarah Brown, which employs staff and supports various charities and good works.

The updated register of MPs’ interests, which went online today, shows that the fees and payments in kind, such as transport and accommodation for him and his staff, which Gordon Brown has generated in the past two years come to £1,016,623.31. That beats a PM’s salary of £142,500, even if he doesn’t get to keep it.

Just Biden his time?

The current issue of The New Yorker relates how a visiting British minister confessed to not knowing the protocol for addressing a vice-president. Joe Biden reportedly “gave a theatrical glance to either side and joked, ‘It looks like we’re alone, so why don’t you call me Mr President and I’ll call you Mr Prime Minister.’ ” The report does not say which minister became Mr Prime Minister for a day. Perhaps it was William Hague, the prime minister so many Tories think they should have had.

Night of the Petticoats

Richard Drax, the Tory MP for South Dorset, dislikes the “tokenism” of the cabinet reshuffle, which promoted women. On his blog, he calls it “the Night of the Petticoats”. Are there women who still wear petticoats? I suppose there must be, in the circles Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax mixes in.

Last laugh for Ladbroke’s

Ladbrokes seems pleased Evan Davis is to replace Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, despite having made Laura Kuenssberg the favourite, ahead of Eddie Mair, Andrew Neil and Krishnan Guru-Murthy, with Davis an outsider at 25-1. That could have been expensive, except the total risked by punters was a miserable £3, leaving the bookies quids in.

‘Double exit’ tragedy

Because Parry Mitchell was one of the last peers to speak in last Friday’s epic debate on assisted dying, the story he told received less attention than it deserved. Lord Mitchell is married to the documentary film-maker Hannah Lowy, whose Jewish father Jack Lowy was left “scarred for ever” when his family was wiped out in the Holocaust. He was also a biophysicist, when the danger of radiation was little understood. In 1998, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, which he knew to be fatal.

As the illness worsened, Jack and his wife Ruth cut off all contact with their daughter and son in law. “When we said there was a chance Ruth would commit suicide along with him, people shook their heads in disbelief,” Lord Mitchell told his fellow peers.

Nobody can know for certain why Ruth Lowy chose to join her husband in a “double exit”, but Lord Mitchell suspects one factor was the risk of criminal prosecution for helping her husband to die. Had there been legislation of the kind being considered in the House of Lords, she might have lived on.