Let’s not mince words. Tony Blair liked rich people. Also God and the Pope, it turned out, but he kept that secret. His liking for rich people he never hid. He admired their success and, well, their wealth. He didn’t seem to mind how they came about their wealth and success. Tony Blair liked to go on holiday with Silvio Berlusconi, a man who runs Italy like his personal fiefdom – through corruption, propaganda and changing the laws to suit himself. Here is Blair on the boat out to another millionaire’s yacht – he’s the one at the back not quite relaxed enough yet to take off his jacket:
And who wouldn’t want to relax on millionaires’ yachts in the Mediterranean? We’d all do it given the chance. But is the liking of Tony Blair and other politicians for rich people and the lovely things they have to share a good basis on which to operate a government? Should they appoint their rich friends to the House of Lords? No matter what their actual business record? And should they hold up their friends with dubious business records to the rest of us as an example of how we should all be behaving?
Tony Blair has not been content with hanging around with rich people. He is determined to become one of them. Since leaving office he has been utilising the knowledge, contacts and fame he gained in public office to turn himself into a successful businessman. This year his business signed a contract with Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, who Blair also describes as a ‘friend’.
President Santos is the former head of the Colombian military. Under cover of the ‘war on drugs’, then the ‘war on terror’, the Colombian military and their paramilitaries allies have been fighting an ongoing ‘low intensity war’ for many years, increasingly appropriating land for wealthy businessmen and corporations in the name of ‘security’, killing, torturing, raping and driving out people in their way. Many thousands of civilians have been assassinated or executed and about 5 million people displaced. Under Santos the military was rocked by the ‘false positives’ scandal in which soldiers murdered thousands of unarmed civilians from poorer areas and presented them as ‘guerillas’ killed in combat.
Tony Blair’s company is to advise Santos on foreign policy.
But presumably, even if being a friend of Tony Blair is a dubious credential for government, Lord Browne must have been well qualified to lead an education review or why would Peter Mandelson have commissioned him to do it and why would the current government be listening to him…