1997 was the year a sheep named, “Dolly” was cloned; six billion pairs of eyes turned skywards for a first-ever glimpse of Comet Hale-Bopp; an earthquake near Ardekul, in northeastern Iran, killed at least 2,400 people, and just one week before that dramatic event the Right Honorable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair MP became prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
While the cloning of Dolly was probably unrelated to Tony Blair’s ascension, perhaps we all ought to have paid more heed at the time to the implications of the other two major events, given what transpired over the following decade. But then, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
When Blair first appeared on the political scene in a big way, he was hailed in much the same way Barack Obama is storming America today. Long gray years of Margaret Thatcher, followed by an even grayer John Major, had a depressing effect on the British public. Blair’s cheery, good-natured, smile was a ray of sunshine after a prolonged bout of chilling, winter rain.
To many in America Tony Blair is something of a hero. His staunch support for that country throughout the Iraq War, often at the expense of his relationship with other European leaders, and a friendship with George and Laura Bush, fooled many in the United States into believing this was a truly great and compassionate man.
His political legacy at home tells a somewhat different story, particularly in the later years of his premiership. Just as Margaret Thatcher began as a promising leader and degenerated over the years, so Blair allowed the power of the position to overtake his better judgments. His decision to move the Labour Party from the left and into the center of the political spectrum, was one of his greatest disservices to the British people. It opened the door to a corporate invasion on scales only previously seen in the United States. The Labour Party, previously the defender of the working classes, became a pawn of corporate power leaving the populace with neither voice, nor choice, as both major parties now occupied a near identical position on the political spectrum.
In one fell swoop, Blair demolished a British political system dating back almost a century and replaced it with an American model. All that remained was for the prime minister to become President of the UK, and this Blair set forth to achieve, with alacrity.
He knew there was no way British society would accept an official title, but methodically he drew the reins of power ever closer to his chest, and mimicking the actions of his buddy across the ocean, gradually and slyly became president in all but name.
Like George Bush, he manipulated his parliament into voting for war against Iraq. There can be little doubt the frequent trans-Atlantic visits resulted in much secret discussion on the future of two nations’ fortunes once Iraq was subdued; how the spoils would be divided, and the personal rewards that would become available to both leaders.
When the time came for Blair to relinquish his political post, he chose his moment with great care. Iraq was bogged down in turmoil, his majority in parliament – and hence his power in government – was about to be slashed by a public disaffected by four years of useless and unworthy war.
Blair was still only fifty-four years old and a lucrative career awaited him, not in his home country, but in the land he’d sold out his European neighbors to woo – America. No sooner was his resignation in the mail, than Tony Blair upped sticks and moved to the United States to begin a series of lecture tours that have since reaped him millions of dollars.
Blair’s religious convictions were always kept well under wraps during his time in political office. The British are adamant about the separation of politics and religion and would tolerate no intervention of ‘God’ in their parliament. Once, when Blair was asked in an interview about his Christian faith, his director of strategy and communications, Alastair Campbell, leapt forward and abruptly responded, “We don’t do God.”
On leaving office, however, Blair lost no time in converting to Roman Catholicism, the faith of his wife. Unlike ordinary folk, who visited their local priest over such matters, Blair’s ego led him straight to the top – Pope Benedict XVI, who arranged for none other than the British Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, to be responsible for Blair’s conversion.
Like George W Bush, Blair has admitted to praying and receiving guidance from God over the Iraq war. Obviously, the Christian God has a real down on Muslims generally, and Iraqi Muslims in particular, having made it clear to both leaders that wreaking apocalyptic suffering on that nation was the right way forward.
Of course, it has to be remembered that God had already inflicted a huge earthquake on Iranian Muslims to celebrate Blair’s prime minister-ship in 1997, so perhaps this latest divine endorsement was not totally unexpected.
It would appear that faith, along with his egotistical power-lust and a demand for wealth, is now driving Tony Blair full-bore. Convinced he has a role to play in uniting the Abrahamic religions he has wangled a part-time job at Yale University teaching, of all things, “Faith and Globalization”. Part-time it maybe, but experts agree it will net him around $200,000 plus a generous expense account.
Yale has an attraction for Mister Blair; his son Euan is currently studying for a Masters degree there after obtaining a generous $100,000 scholarship. Of course, Yale is George Bush’s old educational establishment, which may account for the ease with which both son and father Blair obtained their positions. After all, those Bush/Blair cosy weekends must have produced some rewards, as already suggested.
The peak of Tony Blair’s egotistical endeavor has to be the “Tony Blair Faith Foundation”. In between teaching at Yale; his $150,000-a-time US lecture circuit; envoy to the Middle-East for the Quartet nations (a supposedly unpaid appointment) and advisory positions with the finance houses of J.P. Morgan and Zurich (which each earn him more than $4 million dollars a year), Tony Blair is forming a new charity this summer to ‘bridge the gap’ between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Interestingly, the director appointed by Tony Blair to run the foundation is none other than Jeremy Sinclair, one-time British Tory loyalist, a founding partner and now chairman of advertising agency M&C Saatchi.
Sinclair was responsible for the British Tory party’s notorious ‘demon-eyes’ campaign against Blair in earlier years……
…….. so it is somewhat ironic he should now be holding such a position.
It seems likely Blair’s manic ego may have caused him to overstep himself on this occasion. Perhaps he just doesn’t realize how much he is despised by Muslims for his role in the invasion of Iraq, and his support for the US alliance with Israel.
If Mister Blair is hellbent on building a bridge between the three Abrahamic religions it is unlikely the majority of the Muslim world will rush to support it.
While he may find Jews prepared to buttress the structure, with no foundations at the Islamic landfall Mister Blair will likely find himself staring at failure from the end of a very long jetty.
There have been a number of political leaders throughout history who have jettisoned their parties in favor of the opposition. Tony Blair has managed to go one step further than that. After dragging the Labour Party, kicking and screaming, to the center of the British political spectrum, he then proceeded to engage himself with the cream of right-wing, conservative society. Among his many close friends are George Bush, Richard Murdoch, Ehud Olmert, Nicholas Sarkozy, and most of the US Republican party. It may not be far from the truth to suggest that Tony Blair, in the space of fifteen years, has moved from left of center to neo-conservative.
Few, in history, have managed such an extreme exhibition of political acrobatics.
Filed under: Blair’s business