Mark Steel: Will we ever be rid of Tony Blair?

 

Share
Related Topics

Tony Blair keeps popping back to annoy us, doesn't he? Every few months, just as you think he's slid into history, he emerges getting paid a million pounds for something, like brokering an arms deal with Josef Fritzl and you realise we'll never be rid of him. At least in the past, leaders did their damage, then disappeared, but he'll never go. It's like finding out the next leader of the UN will be General Franco or that Emperor Hirohito is to be a judge on X Factor.

A Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Monday concerned one of Blair's business dealings, but they needn't have bothered with the investigative bits. It could just have gone "Tony Blair is paid £2m a year by JP Morgan bank," and any reasonable person would shout "Oh you dirty pig, how have you pulled that off?" while the rest of the hour was adverts.

Because you might ask why the bank feels he's worth this salary. It's possible it's because he's really good at banking. He went for an interview and did a test and they said, "We've never met anyone who can count so fast, and you can even multiply. Name your price". Or, if we were to be cynical, it's because he has influence and connections as he was the Prime Minister.

The programme went on to claim that his role with the bank compromised his position as Middle East peace envoy, but in his defence that can't be true, as he's already as compromised as it is possible to be on an account of him being Tony Blair.

This is where his genius has to be acknowledged. You'd think that when someone invaded one part of the Middle East for having weapons that turned out not to exist, then was the most strident leader in Europe in supporting the bombing of Gaza, you'd done all you could to ridicule the post of Middle East peace envoy. But he keeps finding new ways, like praising Mubarak as a force for good, or having six business meetings with Gaddafi.

He's like a stadium rock band that has to make each show even more spectacular. Next he'll float through Mecca on Pink Floyd's inflatable pig, then announce he's making progress on bringing all sides together.

A few people give him the benefit of the doubt. For example one writer in this paper yesterday defended his business dealings, concluding that if he "strives to make his family financially secure, how does that harm us?" Maybe this explains the behaviour of Blair's friends as well. The Gaddafis would sit in bed together saying, "We need another couple of palaces for the kids, to make sure they have a decent opportunity in life. After all, we won't be here forever, and the cost of torture chambers keeps going up."

The Blairs have amassed somewhere between £15m and £50m pounds so far, so it's unclear how much more security they need. Still, there might still be a few countries where they don't have any property, and you wouldn't want to leave open the possibility of one of your family getting stuck in Paraguay without a country estate, so he'd best keep toiling away at JP Morgan, because you've got to put your kids first.

The Blairs will probably scrape by, because every moment seems dedicated to providing this security. They sell Tony's signature, and the opportunity to have a photo taken with him, and this summer when they threw a kids' party they charged 10 quid for every child who came. It must be like Ryanair in their house. They'd offer you a Custard Cream, then charge you 85p plus 10 per cent service.

And this is what matters – more than whether he's broken some official code in his business dealings. Because this was the attitude that drove him when he was Prime Minister, obsessed with being close to money and power, which is why he let the banks run riot, and let Murdoch do whatever he pleased, and went to war with Iraq to stay next to Bush. And that, if we're being picky, you might say did harm us.

React Now

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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A couple calculates their costs with the help of some paperwork  

It’s the dream of escape that makes couples keep their finances secret from each other

John Walsh
Theresa May  

It's not hard to imagine Prime Minister Theresa May standing on the steps of Downing Street

Jane Merrick
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?