The curious fate of Tony Blair: Feted by foreign governments, citizen’s arrests in the real world

Sarkozy has revealed Blair feels ‘marginalised’ – though his £70m fortune must provide some comfort

Share

If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like your kids mixing with problem families, the type who are always getting arrested, you wouldn’t want them going near Tony Blair, would you? Five times now he’s been the subject of a citizen’s arrest. This fits with what the police often say, that the vast majority of crimes are committed by a handful of troublemakers, offending over and over again.

Whenever he’s asked in interviews about the war that caused his problems, he gives an exasperated sigh and says, “Oh look, I mean, huh, we’ve been through this many times before.” I can see why this may be irritating, but in the mania of modern politics, if you lead your country into an invasion for reasons that turn out to be entirely made up, it is likely to pop up in conversation now and then.

It’s like a murder suspect saying to a detective, “Oh for goodness sake, every time you come in my cell you ask me about this axe and my fingerprints. Surely we should draw a line under the matter and let’s discuss my ideas for boosting trade in a modernised Europe.”

His frustration at discussing the issue he’s most remembered for suggests he isn’t entirely comfortable with his own legacy. When Genghis Khan was interviewed after he retired, he rarely said, “Look, I mean, huh, can we talk about something apart from the massacres? I mean, they were 10 years ago now and I’m sure viewers would rather hear about the achievements of the Mongolian Surestart scheme”.

As further evidence that Blair isn’t entirely at ease with himself, Nicolas Sarkozy has said he wishes to become President of France again because he wants to “avoid the fate of Tony Blair”, adding that Blair dislikes being “marginalised”.

Blair is said to have amassed £70m since resigning as prime minister, so some people might wish they could be that marginal. Much of this money comes from global figures he’s befriended and advised, although figures he’s befriended and advised in the past include President Mubarak of Egypt, Colonel Gaddafi and President Assad of Syria. So it wouldn’t be surprising if his next accounts showed he’d also advised Rolf Harris on how to ensure a quiet retirement and Manchester United on how to take penalties.

Recently he’s advised JP Morgan bank, and the governments of Kuwait and Kazakhstan. He claims one issue he’s advised Kazakhstan on is improving human rights, though the opposition leader said while Blair was in his job there was “a deterioration in the human rights and political freedoms situation”.

This may be true because, if you were to be cynical, you might wonder why a government that wanted to stop torturing people would need an adviser to help them manage it. Is there a 12-step programme they have to follow, where they stand up and say, “I’m the president of Uzbekistan and I haven’t boiled anyone for nine days, except for a student agitator but he deserved it”, and everyone claps?

But you might wonder how likely it is that, even if you were looking for advice on how to stop being so dictatorial, you’d say, “I know the ideal man; Tony Blair.” Maybe he’s put out an effective advert that goes: “If you’re one of those people who rules a country by whizzing millions of volts through your opponents, don’t suffer alone. Call the Tony Blair Foundation Tyrants Helpline in complete confidence, where our experienced counsellors will listen to your difficulties and help you deteriorate the political freedoms situation even further. If you’ve someone to batter, first call for a natter.”

I’ve no inside information on what he advises the Kuwaiti government on, so it’s a fair guess that it’s on how to hold regular elections and not be a dictatorship ruled by one family. And he tells JP Morgan bank how to distribute money evenly without in any way benefiting a small minority and thereby jeopardising the economy.

Despite all this, Sarkozy’s comment suggests that Blair is frustrated at his image, and his legacy, which he was said to be obsessed about. He faces the likelihood that for the rest of his life he’ll be feted and paid vast amounts by seedy corporations and vindictive governments, but if he ventures into the rest of the world he’ll be demonstrated against, and possibly arrested, as he nearly was by a barman this week.

Maybe that means the opposition to the Iraq war had more of an impact than it seems. Blair can’t have believed that supporting the invasion of Iraq would end up with him being reviled like this, and future wars may be less likely as a result.

So it might be healthy to remind him of the issue he’d like to forget, as often as possible. Andrew Marr could arrest him on his Sunday morning TV show and then as soon as he’s released from the station, Blair’s driver should arrest him again. Blair could be a guest on MasterChef, and asked, “After dicing that onion, can you prepare that beetroot? What do you mean, you can’t see a beetroot? I’ve got a dossier here that proves it’s there. Now prepare it”. Until in the end he turns himself in at The Hague for a quiet life.

The ‘Mark Steel’s in Town’ live tour of London starts 30 January; marksteelinfo.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker