Sunday, 8 August 2010

Blair, Bobbies and Egotism

We pay an estimated £50m a year to protect VIPs, including royalty, diplomats and politicians - one of whom is Tony Blair. His Metropolitan Police protection squad ran up a £250,000 expenses bill over the past year as they provided round the clock protection on business trips and private holidays across the world.

Home Office sources said a Government review of funding arrangements will question whether former politicians should pay towards their own bodyguards, particularly for business or private trips. As well as protecting Mr Blair while he works as an international envoy to the Middle East, the officers also accompany him on holidays when officers ran up a bill of more than £20,000 on a two-week break Mr Blair took in Borneo. It means that the expenses bill for Mr Blair's officers was far higher than the £135,000 claimed by officers protecting Mr Brown during his last year as prime minister.

John Pilger in the New Statesman, states Tony Blair must be prosecuted and not indulged like Peter Mandelson. Both have produced self-serving memoirs for which they have been paid fortunes; Blair's, which has earned him a £4.6m advance, will appear next month. Will we be paying for protection at his book signings?

Pilger is obviously no fan of Blair and I can understand why. The Iraq inquiry has repeatedly exposed his self-centred style of government and his determination to be the bosom buddy of the US. He was not without his collaborators though and most of his cabinet have protected him. That shows his power within the labour party which will have a certain toxicity about it for many years to come.

He is described by Pilger as 'Britain's Kissinger, who plans his travel outside the US with the care of a fugitive'. And Pilger goes further:

Two recent events add weight to this. On 15 June, the International Criminal Court made the landmark decision to add aggression to its list of war crimes that can be prosecuted. It defines this as a "crime committed by a political or military leader which by its character, gravity and scale constituted a manifest violation of the [United Nations] Charter". International lawyers described this as a "giant leap". Britain is a signatory to the Rome statute that created the court and is bound by its decisions.

On 21 July, Nick Clegg, standing at the Commons despatch box, declared the invasion of Iraq illegal. For all the later "clarification" that he was speaking personally, the Deputy Prime Minister had made "a statement that the international court would be interested in", said Philippe Sands, professor of international law at University College London.

We should be paying protection for Mr Blair at only one of his UK homes and when he is in the middle east undertaking his duty as envoy. Mr Blair should take responsibility for his other activities.

Much as I would like to see him brought to an honest account for his actions regarding the Iraq war, I think it's too late and he has too many influential friends in the US.


Dramfineday said...

Dr David a starter for a few hundred thousand

wisnaeme said...

Uh Huh, Dramfineday ... seconded.

I've met Mr Pilger on a few occasions and been quite useful to him with the investigations. I have the highest regard for himself and his judgement and integrity.

...and if he holds Bliar in low esteem and finds him wanting
... then I can but agree with his analysis of Bliar, the warmongering criminal, murderer and liar. Himself lacking in any smidgeon of mitigating morals or integrity for the trail of destruction and human wreakage he's left behind for others to deal with.
He11 mend him and his so called moral compass.

Leg-iron said...

If he's so popular and well liked, why does he need a 24-hour guard?

It's an interesting paradox that the very people who would like to tear him limb from limb are the same ones paying those who prevent them from doing so.

Well, the country is skint. I say throw him to the wolves.

subrosa said...

Thirded Dram.

subrosa said...

Aye wisnaeme, I wondered if you'd read this. I too respect John Pilger's opinion - although I don't always agree with him. That's why he's a good journalist. He leaves you food for thought.

subrosa said...

Lots of them have a 24 hour guard LI and we pay for it. What a nonsense it is. They're supposed to be serving the public, not vice versa.

As for Blair, he should pay for his own protection for his own rackets.

Indyanhat said...

I'm afraid I disagree Rosie Tony Bliar 'should' have 24 hour protection for the rest of his life preferably in a 6x8 cell with armed guards making sure he never bothers anybody ever again!!!

subrosa said...

There seems to be a lot of support for your suggestion Indyan. I'm drifting that way myself these days.

William said...

Tony Blair was the lawfully elected British Prime Minister. The idea that he should be held legally accountable for his decisions to a foreign body or court is an idea that could only be floated by an enemy of Britain and only supported by enemies of Britain.

And I say that as someone who wanted, and wants, nothing to do with Iraq or Afghanistan. The fact is, though, the decision to deploy British troops was Blair's to make.

There's no legitimate reason why security for a British Prime Minister should be withdrawn or scaled back because some people disagreed with his policies and are using cost as a figleaf for their prejudices. This kind of petty-mindedness doesn't do anyone any favours.

subrosa said...

Yes William, Tony Blair was the lawfully elected PM. He's legally accountable to his electorate and the people of the UK. He's legally bound by the laws of the UK. That why we pay for a massive department of government legals.

He was told the Iraq war was illegal. It's becoming more and more obvious he hid that legal evidence and influenced our international lawyers.

Oh, of course who gave away our legal powers to the EU? Can't think for the moment but I'm sure you have the answer.

Wakey wakey William, not even a Prime Minister is above the law.

William said...

Powers have been handed over to the EU by successive Conservative and Labour governments. I'm surprised (though not really) that someone like yourself, who affects to be anti-EU, should so quickly seek to subvert the authority of Parliament when it suits.

Any port in a storm, I suppose, eh?

The Attorney General's official legal advice to the PM was that the war was lawful.

subrosa said...

Auch William, you're on form today. Bad weekend or too good? Don't like Mondays?

You know full well that I don't support the UK being a full member of the EU. I was not 'subverting authority' I was stating a fact. A fact which, if we were given the promised referendum, very probably would be changed.

Have you studied the Iraq inquiry papers? Have a wee look.

To save you time, the paper saying it was lawful was given to Blair after several memos stated it wasn't lawful. One top international lawyer resigned from her post in protest because she knew her boss was wrong. So did her boss.

William said...

Robin Cook and Clare Short also resigned. And.......what? It was an unpopular decision in some quarters and not everybody agreed with it - haud the front page.

The AG's official advice is that the war was lawful. He may not have always have said so but, having had the misfortune of experience with lawyers, they don't always give straightforward answers - partly because the law itself is rarely straightforward and is subject to interpretation.

The legality of the war in Iraq is a separate issue from Tony Blair's security arrangements unless you're actually admitting that you simply want to punish him for doing something that you didn't like.

Indyanhat said...

Maybe politicians wold not be so ready to ignore the wil of the people they are supposed to 'serve' if there was no security detail to protect them after they are out of office....

subrosa said...

You omitted the word 'eventual' William. The AG's eventual final advice was the war was legal.

Yes indeed the legality of the war is a separate issue. You're getting two for the price of one in this post. :)

It's not a sake of not liking William, millions 'didn't like' the idea of war in Iraq, it's a matter of truth. There's no doubt the decision was very dubious.

As for funding the protection of the man while he parties all over the world, it's absurd.

subrosa said...

What needs to happen is that the taxpayer will fund one home and only one Indy. No protection on holidays or freebies.

Surreptitious Evil said...

It's easy to take one hideously unpopular example and make a bad case out of it.

"What needs to happen is that the taxpayer will fund one home and only one Indy. No protection on holidays or freebies."

I think you're aiming at the wrong target here - firing cross-lane, as it were - having been more or less on the zero in the main article. I agree that shouldn't be paying T&S for protection when he is working, unless it is for HMG. His employer, or the politician themselves, should. Wages - more dubious. (Slightly OT: And I'm not a fan of the opinion that just because some SO1/14/DPG officers can make a bit of a killing on overtime that we should stop that. Of course, we could employ more of them, with the concommitant increase in T&S!)

And we clearly need to look at who gets what levels of protection. As I think they already had done with the Irish situation becoming, until recently, less fraught.

However, should becoming a target because of your role effectively ban you from having a foreign holiday (yes, Blair seems rich - well, he seems to have lots of income but he's an easy target because he is so obviously a preening egomaniac with a dodgy reputation for il- or extra- legal acts whilst Head of Govt)? Some future PMs may be both less well off (quite likely) and less morally dubious (God, do I hope so!)

subrosa said...

You're too generous SE. :)

I'm not knocking the officers for making the most of their position, I'm criticising Blair who expects 24 hour protection for his every action.

Also I think any foreign holiday protection should be stopped. That would encourage them to holiday in the UK wouldn't it. Benefit the economy and all that.

Of course some may be less well off and in that situation they wouldn't be having regular foreign holidays or own several homes.

Alex Porter said...

PM Blair did not have the authority to go to war - that's parliament's job. Blair made a decision to go to war and had the evidence fit the crime and it is clear the AG was hand-picked to do such-like favours.. In any case, the info that was supplied to cabinet members and parliament was hugely misleading. There was enormous doubt over the legality of going to war. This was expressed internationally as well as domestically. In such circumstances procedures should have been followed including at the UN. Alas, Blair was in a hurry.

And 2 days after leaving office he got a consultancy with JP Morgan worth millions a year. The same bank that 'won' the contract to run the Trading Bank of Iraq. He also has other jobs advising middle-east regimes like Kuwait and Libia on oil-related business possibilities. He's raked in tens of millions on profiting from the war he facilitated.

I haven't looked into the matter in some time but I remember reading many legal opinions and concluded that the only thing preventing him being tried is political will. He's protected.

He is complicit in the deaths and injury of many millions of people.

William said...

"PM Blair did not have the authority to go to war - that's parliament's job.

And Parliament voted for it.

Tbh, I don't think we fought in two World Wars simply to go running to the United Nations whenever we want to do anything. I really don't recognise the UN as a body that should have any input into our decision-making. Ditto the EU.

Our Prime Minister approved the decision; our Attorney General approved the decision; our Parliament voted for the decision. That's really the beginning and end of the 'legality' debate - there isn't one unless one wishes to submit to the authority of foreign powers and organisations.

Not me, thanks.

subrosa said...

Very well put, thank you Alex.

subrosa said...

William, as Alex says above, parliament voted on hugely misleading information.

You're living in Utopia and the UK isn't that. We need the likes of the UN to stop madmen doing what they want.

Alex Porter said...

Hi Rosie,
Great entry. I heard someone attempted a citizen's arrest a year or two ago and got pounced on by bodyguards. Blair apparently looked dazed and was sneering.


Parliament was mislead on the legality of war! It voted for a war which was and IS illegal - that's according to UK law which has encorporated international law on the subject.

The UN was set up to prevent wars from happening again. It's authority has helped protect the world from innihilating itself. Undermining it and ignoring international law (that we've signed up to) is a disgrace and belittles the efforts of the millions who died in order to create a safer world.

We simply can't live by the law of the jungle. That's the world that Bush and Blair has helped bring back. We are now closer to a world war than we have been since the cold war.

With the disintegrating superpower that is the US and its UK imperial henchman there is is growing vaccuums geo-politically. That is an extremely dangerous situation and at a time were the world reserve currency is suffering duress and other currencies are forecast by many to collapse soon we face a world were power is shifting ground right in front of us.

In the absense of international law, I am increasingly afraid that the view of law of the jungle (as espoused by William) may well take us to the point of WW3 and that won't be pretty.

The evil of Bush's and Blair's legacy may prove to have been hugely underestimated.

subrosa said...

Of course you're right Alex. Nobody has paid much attention to Russia's determination to rearm with the latest hardware either. We do face a serious problem and I don't think we have enough skilled politicians to deal with it.

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