Courtesy of Michael Segalov @ The Independent:
Over the weekend, it was reported that Tony Blair pulled out of addressing The World Hunger Forum in Stockholm because his £330k price tag for turning up and talking just couldn’t be met.
According to one source, the food company organising the event, Eat, dropped Blair because “his star power is fast diminishing”. But regardless of whether this is true or not, many agree that he was wrong to ask for such an astronomical payment in the first place. It was apparently going to be given to The Cherie Blair Foundation. So if his claim that he didn’t turn up and speak due to “prior commitments” is true, that’s a real shame; it would have been a huge donation.
But either way, I think it’s time we give the man a break. His impeccable record as a selfless public servant aside, Blair’s approach to life after his Downing Street days display the exact same values that both the government and opposition want us to tattooed on our foreheads: “aspiration” and “wealth creation”.
The next Labour leadership favourite, Andy Burnham, last week suggested “wealth creators must be valued as highly as NHS staff”. Burnham reckons these wealthy people are “everyday heroes”, in which case Tony Blair is basically Superman, creating cash money left right and centre.
Since leaving Downing Street he’s had to deny reports that he has amassed a personal fortune of £100m, and has insisted that it’s closer to £20m – a far more modest amount. But regardless of how many millions he has, Tony’s real message to us all is that we shouldn’t be bothered by those bleeding-heart liberals who think we should be paying a fair level of tax – in fact, a company he set up managed to halve its tax bill to just £300,000 on an income of £14m.
For years we’ve been recoiling in disgust at people reliant on state hand-outs, shamelessly avoiding a hard day’s work. People like Lesley Roberts, who thinks being terminally ill should in some way entitle her to some tax-payer funded support. Unlike the work shy Lesleys of the world, Tony has taken whatever jobs have come his way; from advising the Columbian government on how to spend £2bn earned on mining deals, to advising the Kazakh president on publicity after the killing of 15 civilian protestors.
His 20-minute speech in Stockholm would have cost £275 per second. So what if people aren’t happy? Tony isn’t part of the “job-shy generation”, he’ll take on work whether it’s popular or not. He knows that work pays, unlike the lazy youth of today who are moaning about being expected to work for £1.91 an hour.
And it’s not just the speech money that’s at stake; he’s creating jobs for others, too. Just a couple of years ago it was reported Blair continued to cost the country £400k a year, with much of that money going to his 24/7 taxpayer funded security team.
He’s also never been afraid to get his hands dirty in the process of finding us work – even if it meant telling a couple of little white lies about some weapons to make sure that 46,000 Brits were dutifully employed in Iraq.
And not everyone who works for Blair is an unpaid intern. Well, just about.
Without Tony, the Arrest Blair site would never have appeared, and those wishing to attempt “a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former British prime minister, for crimes against peace” wouldn’t be able to claim the £7k that’s currently up for grabs. This is wealth creation at its best.
Tony is an aspirational wealth creator, and he personifies the traits that we as a society should most admire. So far as I’m concerned, the only mistake Tony made was claiming that his no-show in Stockholm was due to “prior commitments”. Come on Tony! Your aspiration should be an inspiration to us all – what about the next generation of evangelical warmongering millionaires-in-waiting? Be proud! You’ve already let down enough ordinary Brits and Iraqis; don’t go and let them poor guys down too.