Tony Blair has made the news again this week, as he wades in on the current Labour leadership debate to criticise Comrade Corbyn and to suggest he would be bad for the Party and any potential election victory in the future. This comes amidst a frantic scramble to discredit Jeremy Corbyn after he took the lead in a recent YouGov Poll.
His speech wasn’t as well received as some might have expected, but he definitely got his point of view across and may have influenced the vote of some undecided Labour Party members.
“If your heart is with Corbyn, get a transplant says Blair”
Blair has been so heavily criticised for his shady dealings, conflicts of interest, alleged war crimes and high post-PM earnings that he is toxic even amongst the Labour faithful.
John Prescott even took to Radio 4 to criticise Blair and his antics.
We all know of his earnings, his abuse of power to further Big Business and his phoney ‘Peace Envoy’ role. What we might not piece together, however, is the timeline of ‘coincidences’ which have led me to question what else Tony Blair could and should be questioned and/or investigated about.
The latest delay into publication of the Chilcot Enquiry on the Iraq War have been blamed widely on the portions relating to Tony Blair and no doubt to some serious negotiation over retractions to protect himself. We reported lately on this delay and still maintain the view that no criminal prosecution will ever occur, which will disappoint those who have been calling for Tony Blair’s head for quite some time.
I have though, begun to believe those who have suggested there is a link between the Oil Companies, the US, UK and the Iraq War. In my previous article, I stated that I was convinced that Tony Blair ‘believed he was doing the right thing’ in invading Iraq, but now I am leaning towards undue influence and potentially billions in revenue for Big Business. Previously I would have seen the Oil revenues as being simple opportunity benefits post-war, but now I’m beginning to think the pursuit of these profits may have held sway over decision-makers.
Tony Blair, Lord Browne & the Male Prostitute
It was reported in the Mail on Sunday in 2007 about a scandal involving the then Chief Executive of BP (British Petroleum), Lord Browne, having had a lengthy relationship with a much younger male prostitute (Jeff Chevalier).
The relationship lasted from 2003 until 2006, with Chevalier being moved into Lord Browne’s £5m Chelsea apartment and appearing ‘on his arm’ at many prestigious functions. Chevalier shone a light on the fast-moving, high-life led by Lord Browne and more importantly, the casual meetings at which business would be discussed among some very influential people.
Chevalier had reached out to Lord Browne after their split in 2006, asking for a hand-out as he was penniless. When Lord Browne refused, Chevalier went to the newspapers and sold his story.
The scandal at the time forced the resignation of Lord Browne, who has since reinvented himself and authored a book on Homosexuality in the business world. However in 2007, when the Mail on Sunday broke the story, Lord Browne took the matter all the way to the House of Lords in an attempt to silence Chevalier. When this failed, he simply resigned.
One of the claims made by Chevalier was a summer 2005 dinner with Tony Blair (PM at the time), to which he (Chevalier) accompanied Lord Browne. Anji Hunter (Tony Blair’s ‘gatekeeper’ at the time) was also present. Over a £3,000 bottle of Claret, business and personal issues were openly discussed amongst powerful men, comfortable in their own business and personal friendship. Chevalier suggested that Tony Blair and Lord Browne were firm friends and that Lord Browne often discussed meetings the pair had with Chavalier.
“Mr Chevalier found himself on the Blair Christmas card list – the handwritten greeting going out ‘to John and Jeff’. “
The Mail on Sunday was prevented, by Court Order, from disclosing the details of the dinner-table conversation between Lord Browne and Tony Blair, but they did hint at their content and suggested an ‘overlap’ between the two men and their business/personal relationships.
“We can say, however, that Mr Blair was in reflective mood, and mused on life after Downing Street. Lord Browne listened sympathetically and offered suggestions.”
A timeline of coincidences
Why would this story have any relevance?
Well, without going too much into already well-publicised information with regards to Tony Blair and Iraq, consider the following (particularly whilst remembering the ‘friendship’ between Tony Blair and Lord Browne):
“The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq “post regime change”. Its minutes state: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.”
2003: Tony Blair, along with his US ally, invaded Iraq in what has now been proven to be an illegal war. Prior to the invasion, it was reported that BP trained British troops on how to maintain and run the Oilfields
2005: Tony Blair and Lord Browne, Chief Executive of BP, have a dinner and discuss options after Downing Street for Tony Blair. It was also revealed that Lord Browne was a regular visitor to Downing Street during Tony Blair’s tenure.
2007: Lord Browne resigns as Chief Executive and Director of BP after his attempts to silence his male prostitute ex-lover fail and he is caught out lying in court. This resignation ended a 41-year career with BP.
2007: Tony Blair accepts the job of Middle East Peace Envoy with the Quartet (US, UN, EU & Russia)
2008: In December, Tony Blair founds Tony Blair Associates (TBA), an umbrella organisation under which he provided consultancy at astonishing rates. His first client was Kuwait, earning him £27million in fees, in defiance of all the calls of ‘conflicting interests’ with his post as Middle East Peace Envoy.
2009: BP (and Chinese partner CNPC) sign a deal with Iraq government to ‘run’ Ramaila Oilfields, which contribute 40% of Iraq oil production.
“We also gained access to new resource opportunities in Iraq, Egypt, the Gulf of Mexico, Indonesia, Jordan and on-shore US. We entered Iraq through a contract to expand production from the Rumaila field near Basra, one of the largest oilfields in the world”
2010: Tony Blair reportedly arranged a covert contract with Saudi oil company PetroSaudi, arranging ‘introductions’ with Chinese contacts and earning ‘TBA’ $60,000 per month plus 2% commission on any resulting deals.
2011: BP and Iraq contract rewritten, raising Ramaila Oilfield output and giving BP a ‘stranglehold over Iraq’ with unbelievable terms in favour of BP. BP refer to an initial 10% increase ‘target’ being met, which released some additional contract payments from Iraq in their 2011 Annual Report & Accounts
Should Labour voters be paying any heed to Tony Blair?
Whilst everyone can see the toxicity surrounding Tony Blair, he still wields a heavy influence within the top echelons of power in the Labour Party, with his own faction labelled ‘Blairites’ who were brought through in his lengthy tenure as PM in Downing Street.
One thing about Tony, he knew how to win an election. He was Prime Minister from May 2nd, 1997 until 27th June, 2007 when he finally moved aside to allow Gordon Brown to completely mess up the end of the Labour powerfest.
Labour had not known success like it since Harold Wilson and Blair dragged the Labour Party towards the centre of British politics, creating the ideology of ‘New Labour’. This success is still fondly remembered by many of the Party-faithful and Blair still gains accolades whilst his ‘misdemeanours’ are conveniently overlooked.
We can see from the demographic split of Labour supporters that support is most prevalent amongst the younger voters, who would have grown up with a Blairite Labour Party, or a New Labour style. This may go some way to explaining why Tony Blair is still held in any regard, let alone have the influence he still retains.
As it stands though, Tony Blair still holds some sway over Labour supporters, though how this is possible with the riches he has amassed on public display is beyond me. Surely, by now, the average Labour voter no longer rates this man?
The Corbyn Enigma
An average Labour voter could probably now be described as Working or Middle Class, with Centre-Left leanings and a focus on a larger state to provide for Education, Welfare and Health needs.
There is, however, a growing activism amongst the Left-wing section of the Party, with Marxists like Jeremy Corbyn being supported vocally by media publicity hounds such as Owen Jones, Diane Abbott, Ken Livingstone and loose policy agreement with SNP, Greens, Plyd Cymru, Sinn Fein and other ‘Socialist’ parties. There is some serious support building amongst the youngest voters who do not remember a pre-Blair Labour Party and who have been woo’d by the premise of Socialist Ideology which we’ve all experienced as the failure it eventually ends up becoming.
This ‘Corbyn’ enigma is troubling the established Labour hierarchy who see it as a return to the 1980’s and a direction they feel is impossible to gain enough public support to obtain any semblance of victory in a General Election. They are frantically trying to discredit the man and his policies, using poorly disguised smears, the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time within a single political party. There have even been threats of splitting up the Labour Party in the event of a Corbyn victory, alongside plots to oust him immediately.
This underhand campaign against Corbyn is actually awakening the left-leaning Labour Party faithful and might even be contributing to his ongoing and increasing support. Whilst I still cannot see how he gets to be leader, it is not outside the realms of possibility now.
Funnily enough, Corbyn with all his Marxist principles, is the only one of the current leadership candidates to offer any attempt at consistency within his policies and he has more than held his own in the ridiculous number of public debates this contest has spawned.
Corbyn is also becoming a firm favourite amongst the larger Unions, who favour a more left-leaning stance to offset the competitive nature of the workplace Tory rule enforces upon it’s members.
Labour Members will ultimately decide
Whilst previously the next Labour Party leader would have pretty much been decided by the Unions and the Labour hierarchy, the new rules introduced by Ed Miliband give every member an equally weighted vote. Whilst this was no doubt an attempt to remove the Union stranglehold on the Labour Party, it has actually resulted in the Labour Party hierarchy being terrified of their own members and their potential to vote for someone like Corbyn.
The One Member One Vote policy which Miliband adopted gives every Labour Party Member an equal vote, meaning that, even members of Labour-affiliated trade unions will need to additionally register as Labour supporters in order to vote.
This new voting system relies on the ability to bend public opinion, much like in a General Election, with candidates having to sing for their supper and win votes, rather than automatically receive a large proportion by Union or fellow MP/MEP endorsement alone.
The Union endorsement of Corbyn will definitely add some weight to his campaign, but it does not in itself guarantee the votes of every member.
The #ToriesForCorbyn effect
There was a call on Twitter, under the hashtag #ToriesForCorbyn, being promoted among Tory supporters who see Jeremy Corbyn as totally unelectable in a General Election and ultimately the return of a Conservative government in 2020.
This called for Tory supporters to pay the £3 and sign up as full Labour Party Members to vote specifically for Jeremy Corbyn. The media and some Labour MP’s have used this as an example of bias and over-play the effect as if it was this hashtag and its associates who were causing this unimaginable rise in popularity for Corbyn.
The numbers could not be significant enough to affect any leadership election outcome and I see this as merely some entertainment amongst Tory supporters on Twitter, which was the initial idea anyway – nobody would truly expect enough Tories to give £3 to the Labour Party expecting to vote their next leader into power.
Well, now we wait. We watch and listen to the multitude of leadership debates and we await the election of a new leader in time for the Labour Party Conference in September 2015.
I’ve actually now changed my position from one of lethargy and mild amusement at the efforts of the four leadership candidates, musing quietly as they distance themselves from one after another of the very policies they fought FOR in the General Election last May. Now, since the guns came out against Corbyn, in what I can only describe as a shockingly undemocratic fashion, I’m now fully supporting him as new Labour Leader.
I have little in common with the ideology followed by Jeremy Corbyn and I seriously doubt he could ever be seen as PM material, but Labour need to get themselves together and provide an effective Opposition in Westminster for the next 5 years, rather than focus on seizing power in 2020.
Jeremy Corbyn, with his dogged determination and his army of activists shouting his opinion loudly, is the only one of the four candidates that I can see who is capable of providing this opposition. Our government in the UK works best when not totally untethered, effective opposition is how this happens.
Sorry, I’m not worried about Labour’s hopes in 2020 – I’m more worried that the UK is governed properly and effectively until 2020.