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Amol Rajan: In Defence of Tony Blair getting very rich

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Thursday, 5 November 2009 at 08:24 am
I've been too engrossed in books about Sydney Barnes to blog much on my week off.  Did you know that when he took his record-shattering 49 wickets - 49 - in the 1913-14 series against South Africa, he actually bunked the fifth Test? He was cheesed off that tour organisers wouldn't pay his wife's hotel fare. It's conceivable that he might have taken 60 wickets in the series otherwise. But foregoing that opportunity on grounds of marital solidarity is, I think, basically my definition of pure heroism. I hope his wife thanked him for it.

Anyway, I wanted to flag up a piece by Edward Heathcoat-Amory in last Saturday's Mail.  It's entitled 'Inside Blair Inc'. It's what we in the industry call a cuts job.  Or, even worse, a copy-and-paste job, because funnily enough the FT had a superb piece just two days earlier, also called Inside Blair Inc. The Mail piece contained very little fresh material.

Now, in my humble estimation, Heathcoat-Amory is actually a rather good writer, and goodness knows how little time he had to turn that piece around.  My main intention here isn't to be horrible about him.  It's to question why people have a problem with Tony Blair being very rich.

I can see why it could be galling to see somebody you dislike suddenly acquire vast wealth. I'd be narked if my old Maths teacher had turned into a millionaire during my gap year, for example. And there might be an argument that Blair is whoring his contacts, his experience, and his knowledge in a way that is detrimental to the interests of the people he served, and so betraying them.

None of these arguments is in either the Mail or the FT piece. They are motivated by three things: an interest in the private lives of others, jealousy, and political spite. Neither piece shows Blair in a particularly bad light: in fact they show him working on some very worthwhile causes, and getting well paid for speaking.  I support most of the causes he is working on (who's against peace in the Middle East?) and that my former Prime Minister is becoming wealthy pleases me, because I am a patriotic Englishman.

At a time when the whole of our foreign policy establishment is working out how to manage British decline, I rather like the idea that one of our politicians can stop traffic in far-off capitals, and indeed get paid tens of thousands of pounds for an after-dinner speech. It shows something British and political is in demand. (And good on William Hague for milking it too, after he was dumped as leader).

I am not a Blairite ultra (though not that far off it), but until somebody explains to me what benefit to civilisation might accrue from placing limits on Tony Blair's wealth, I shall think ill of those who write jealously of it.

In the meantime, I shall continue to be intensely relaxed about former Prime Ministers getting filthy rich.

Comments

Blair getting rich
palestinian_ian wrote:
Thursday, 5 November 2009 at 12:02 pm (UTC)
It's the way he's getting rich that is the problem. He goes to war against the will of the country, with ill-prepared and poorly equipped troops, and probably illegally too. His expenses claims were destryoed so we have no idea what his mortgage reimbursements. And he made no effort to ensure our maimed and disfigured servicemen were adequately compensated and cared for. His enormous speaking fees are for what? Telling us how courageous he was to go to war with Bush? I wonder if he still writes letters of condolence to families who have lost loved ones in Iraq - or has he drawn a line under that to concentrate on his speeches?
Re: Blair getting rich
blairsupporter wrote:
Monday, 21 December 2009 at 07:14 pm (UTC)
No, palestinian_ian.

This "against the will of the country!" is another lie that has been allowed to build up in order to try to disparage Tony Blair's reputation. If you are talking of opinion polls, well over 60% agreed with the decision. However, and this little fact excapes a lot of critics: no prime minister/government faced with a situation they consider needs to be acted upon, war or even a lesser reason, asks the people. They'd invariably say "no" unless we had already been attacked. They'd be aided and abetted in that by the liberal press, whose instinct is to fail to recognise that not every leader or county believes in liberal democracy as we see it. They don;'t give you brownie points for what they perceive as weakness, as the US president may now be finding out

We in Britain do not have government by issue referendum. That's why we have general elections, so THEY can make the hard decisions, and so we can rip them to shreds for it afterwards. It's the British way, don't you know?

I'm also with the writer here on Blair's success financially. I am very proud that Tony Blair is the world's superstar politician. And if they pay him his market value for advice which THEY reckon is worth it for their countries' futures, who am I to complain? Why should I? It's none of my business.

Same with you, palestinian_ian. Methinks you are fighting a different battle.
Re: Blair getting rich
blairsupporter wrote:
Monday, 21 December 2009 at 07:19 pm (UTC)
You might want to see what Blair gets up to as he "cashes in" on his worldwide popularity:

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/what-tony-did-next-you-gotta-love-his-style/

And the writer here, a self-confessed ultra-Blairite, might consider adding his signature to this petition to Ban Blair-Baiting at the Iraq Inquiry:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-blair-baiting/signatures.html

There are already three mainstream journalists listed there, as well as several Iraqis, Afghans and even Iranians.
reinertorheit wrote:
Friday, 6 November 2009 at 06:58 am (UTC)

Do you work for John Rentaghoul, Amol?

Because you have zero credibility of your own.
Torheit means 'Foolish', for those who do not know
blairsupporter wrote:
Monday, 21 December 2009 at 07:27 pm (UTC)
Unlike YOUR credibility, reinertorheit? Such a worthy man are you that a moderator at Rentoul's removed your posts because of your language.

I did wonder about that, I must admit.

If you'd written what you wrote at MY blog, I could understand a mainstream paper deleting you. But swearing? That's par for the course for Blair haters, isn't it?

Julie here examines a slightly more worrying remark you made than straight-forward anti-Blair cursing:

http://puschiii.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/the-phenomena-of-hate-speech/

Just so readers know.
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