Sunday, 13 November 2016

Tony Blair Allegedly and Without Prejudice

When Blair rode the New Labour waggon to victory in 1997, people like me, progressives long tired of Margaret Thatcher’s Neo-Conservatism with its free trade ethos, welcomed the virgin Prime Minster with open arms. It was obvious, even then, that he and his changed Labour Party were less Socialist than they were Liberal. In fact, Blair, a long-time admirer of Bill Clinton’s Third Way politics, had reshaped New Labour in a similar style. As time passed it became apparent they were not even Liberal for they pursued, as did the aforementioned President, a Neo-Liberal course.

Still, I cannot deny that I voted for Blair. My reasons were simple. I would rather the seemingly gentler approach of New Labour to that of the right of previous administration. Blair had to be better than Thatcher after all, didn’t he? Well, didn't he?

The answer to that only became clear during his period in office. Like Thatcher, he was passionate about his views. He informed us he was centre-left. Patently he was nothing of the sort. Right-of-centre perhaps but a million miles away from Anuran Bevan, Clement Attlee and that wonderful, progressive Labour Party that gave us the National Health Service and the Welfare State. No wonder Blair and Paddy Ashdown toyed with the idea of merging the two parties.

That first term in power did indeed see a more moderate approach even if it remained equally as transfixed on big business, on following a Hayekian free-trade approach to capitalism, on the privatisation of the NHS, and on playing second fiddle to the likes of Rupert Murdoch.  This third way was not the third way as espoused by G.K. Chesterton or Hilaire Belloc. This third way has proven to be nothing more than another way to make money for the few, not just more money but huge, obscene amounts of wealth. Moderation is fine but when moderation means making money at the expense of morals then you are no longer moderate. Moderation is fine but when moderation means murder then you are no longer moderate, you are a murderer.

As that first term closed a second opened. With it came the evangelical Blair, the man who saw himself as a latter-day Gladstone. Margaret Thatcher also saw herself in those terms. With that second term came a man with a vision. Not only of how the world should be run but of himself. His views of the UK and the USA as partners not one subservient to the other were, and still are laughable yet still he aligned himself and the British people with a Neo-Conservative American President. All the good he and New Labour achieved during their first term were soon eclipsed by Blair’s desire to wage war. Even if Kosovo was a success Iraq was not.

The Iraq war, that is the second war with that nation, was a war based on a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Both Bush and Blair wanted from the start a regime change. Getting rid of WMD may be reason enough to wage war if it makes a larger peace but making a regime change is the act of imperialism. It is both immoral and undemocratic.

Tony Blair had conviction. He was evangelical in his passion. It was a dream of his overseeing a return to Britain’s imperial past, of his vision of Atlanticism, of his being able to bridge the divide between the old world and the new, of his being the world’s peacemaker, its mediator between Europe and the USA.

That failure to foresee how overstepping of the mark he was with fervent views in the eyes of the British public washed over him like a dream. He really thought he was Teflon, that he had testicles made of solid gold rather than balls of brass. He believed in his own myth created by those New Labour spin doctors Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell.

Then came Tony Blair's autobiography which revealed a man who never intended, let alone desired, to beat Margaret Thatcher's eleven years in power, no, he clearly states he never wanted that as he had his falcon eyes on making big bucks.

No sooner had the removal men removed the Blair's from their stay at number ten Downing Street than Tony Blair set about assuring his name wouldn't be removed from the pages of posterity nor his financial position in life become that of just another Prime Minister. He went for gold.

As Tony Blair left one office so he entered another. He accepted the invite to become Special Envoy of the Quartet to the Middle East on 27th June 2007. He literally walked out of one job into another. Sadly, the success Blair had in Northern Ireland has not been repeated in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. 

Reading "Blair Inc," the  forensically detailed, precise, almost surgical report found in authors Francis Beckett, David Henke and Nick Kochan's illuminating book, I was stunned by what I read. Tony Blair's pursuit of money seems as driven as was his desire to wage war. If he is, as he says he is, a practising Christian, then the God he worships is unlike any God, even the Biblical deity, for his is the God of greed, of power after true power has faded. He has constructed a network of companies, all seemingly independent of each other yet bound closely by invisible threads so that no one can easily identify where one company begins and the other ends. This has been done so it is extremely difficult to trace where the billions changing hands ends up; in who's hands, or rather who's purse, it jangles. No one knows Blairs True wealth but it is thought to be around £80 million. This all has been made in the nine years since he left office.

The thing that saddens me is the fact I voted for Blair in 1997. I knew, even then, he was not Labour. He said so. He, along with Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, created New Labour. It was a neoliberal political force forged out of the policies of Margaret Thatcher and spin. It was the British version of Bill Clinton's Third Way politics. I thought it would be a softer, gentler form of Thatcherism, a form that would provide a slightly more progressive political persuasion, one that would take us on a path away from neoconservatism. In some ways, it did in others it didn't. 

What saddens me more is the way in which a great many of those who sought public office so as to make a difference have crossed the lines of morality. With  the Clintons, with Blair and with the likes of Donald Trump, it seems the thirst for power is only equalled by their thirst for money. Morals make no part of their agenda. Having power for the sake of wielding power seems to be all they seek. When they leave office, with all the worldly attention such elevated positions grant, they, like an addict, crave the same lifestyle, the same position in life they enjoyed when either Presidents or Prime Ministers. It is their absolute need for wealth though that plays large in their minds. 

People like the Clinton's and the Blairs seem morally deficient. The more they claim spiritual leanings the more fraudulent seem the claims they make. Real Christian's do not wage war nor do they worship at the altar of avarice.

That old axiom, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely shall surely be chiselled on Tony Blair's tombstone. If not that then maybe the title of an old Mothers of Invention album - "We're Only In it For The Money." Ain't that the truth.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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