The sheer venality of the current political class, while not necessarily a radical departure from what has been the case in the past, still has the capacity to make me rub my eyes in amazement. Get a load of this:.
Tony Blair waged an extraordinary two-year battle to keep secret a lucrative deal with a multinational oil giant which has extensive interests in Iraq.
The former Prime Minister tried to keep the public in the dark over his dealings with South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation. Mr Blair – who has made at least £20million since leaving Downing Street in June 2007 – also went to great efforts to keep hidden a £1million deal advising the ruling royal family in Iraq’s neighbour Kuwait.
In an unprecedented move, he persuaded the committee which vets the jobs of former ministers to keep details of both deals from the public for 20 months, claiming it was commercially sensitive. The deals emerged yesterday when the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments finally lost patience with Mr Blair and decided to ignore his objections and publish the details.
Of course, the fact that Mr Blair makes a lot of money is hardly a reason for criticism per se, and given that the story is in the Daily Mail, a noisy mixture of rightwing populism on social issues, economic nationalism and Blimpish anti-Americanism, I tread a little carefully. But even so, it is pretty galling that a man like Blair who has largely risen to where he is on the back of artifice and bullshittery of heroic proportions should be making so much money. Also, considering that one of his most contentious decisions to support the war to topple Saddam was always going to be attacked by the usual types as being “all about oil”, it does seem incredibly crass for this man to validate the usual Blair/BushHitler/Halliburton/Blackwater/blah blah conspiracy theory tropes of the Michael Moore left and Raimondoesque right.
Oh well, at least he can keep Cherie Blair in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed. I would not be at all surprised if Blair ends up becoming a tax fugitive from the UK.
Mr Blair is, of course, a classic example of the political class so ably described by Peter Oborne, the British journalist. No doubt Messrs Obama and Sarkozy are taking notes.
In some ways UK politics has reverted to the 18th Century model, as described by the likes of Lewis Namier, when different gangs of folk with remarkably similar views scrapped for the spoils of office. And as Mr Blair now shows, those spoils are remarkably lucrative indeed.