You have to give it to Tony Blair.
He managed to broker peace for Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, that initial success seems to have gone to his head and one can only think he came to regard himself in the delusional light of being heaven’s gift to the planet and equipped to tackle all its ills.
The corollary to this is that, as his reward, the planet owes him a living and he can safely side-step the usual decent restraints on what is and is not a conflict of interest for a former public servant when it comes to amassing a personal fortune.
After watching Dispatches, ‘The Wonderful World of Tony Blair’, on Channel 4 last night, I couldn’t help reflecting on how the high and mighty seem able to set themselves above the law, or at least find ways of ignoring the limits that the law is supposed to set on all our activities.
The picture today is one of politicians, especially those on the Labour side, who profess to look after the poor and strive technically to create an equal society, but move on to engage in profiteering – evidently having regarded their terms of office as merely a preliminary to joining the gravy train.
In Peter Oborne’s measured and reasonable Channel 4 investigation, I found the picture he drew in the case of Tony Blair, of influence being manipulated to make shameful amounts of money, quite disgusting.
Kuwait had given his commercial interests a contract worth £27 million; J. P. Morgan were paying him £2 million a year as adviser.
Alongside this there went an ability to blur the dividing line between his business interests and his responsibilities as a ‘peace envoy’ that questioned the whole basis of ethical standards in public life.
I was astonished and disillusioned in equal measure to hear of the fees Blair is being paid by Arab countries in his capacity as a ‘Quartet’ representative, his role here being to seek peace in the Middle East.
Even this has turned out to be more of an exercise in controlling the situation to keep the initiative in the hands of Israel, with America’s support, than listening sympathetically to the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
He even has the American habit of refraining from mentioning the illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, as if it would be bad manners to do so, even though these lie at the very heart of the problem.
His exorbitant and luxurious lifestyle seemed appalling, given the current financial situation the world over, with his catalogue of large suites in the best hotels, private jets and keeping company with unsavoury despots.
We used to mock the oil-rich Arabs who came to London and flaunted their spending power, but now it looks as if Blair is their equal in behaviour. It all leads one to believe there is more to it than meets the eye.
The one thing I know, from all that I see today, is that I will never believe in Labour again unless they cleanse themselves and their policies from this Blairite legacy.