TONY BLAIR CASHES IN
As expected, Tony Blair has started the serious business of reaping the rewards from his time as Prime Minister. He is on the brink of becoming seriously rich; joining the ranks of speakers on the US lecture circuit and now becoming an advisor to Investment bank JP Morgan for an estimated £500,000 a year.
There are many precedents:
- Margaret Thatcher reputedly earned $50,000 for a 30 minute speech on the US lecture circuit. She also earned $250,000 a year as a consultant to tobacco company Philip Morris.
- John Major also made a pile on the lecture circuit, about £28,000 a shot.
He was also able to reap rich rewards as a director and corporate advisor. For example he was a roving ambassador for Mayflower plc, an automotive company that went bust, leaving its employees without pensions. Mr Major was reported to have 'earned' £110,000 for attending some 4 Mayflower meetings a year. Major's highest profile involvement was with private equity group Carlyle, which is in bed with US defence industries and pulled off a major (no pun intended) coup when it invested in QinetiQ, the recently privatised UK defence research organisation. Many commentators regarded Carlyle's profits on the deal as obscene.
- And now, as expected, Tony Blair has boarded the gravy train. He has always appeared to have had a 'thing' about wealth and the very wealthy, see relationships with Silvio Berlesconi, Mittal, the Hinduja brothers, Bernie Ecclestone and the like. As Prime Minister, Blair obviously set out to be regarded as 'business friendly', with a particularly soft spot for the finance industries. Social commentator Polly Toynbee once accused him of "A cringing appeasement of the rich and powerful". She was chiding him in the Guardian of March 25, 2004, for a speech that he made to a City audience at Goldman Sachs, a company not untainted by scandal, the CEO of which had earned $21.4 million in 2003. Mr. Blair praised Goldman for encouraging their staff to "Contribute a day of their time each year to charitable and community activities". He went on to enthuse: "What is being done here at Goldman Sachs, indeed the emphasis placed by more and more companies on corporate social responsibility, symbolises the recognition that prosperity is best achieved in an inclusive society". So never mind the pay and the continual habit of financial services companies to mislead and swindle their customers. Never mind the studious silence from government about the effects of the speculative excesses of so-called 'investors' (including Goldman Sachs, who, if we are not mistaken, are heavily into Hedge Funds and dodgy loans) on innovation, investment and R&D expenditure.
Now the investment banking industry is repaying the support they have received from Prime Minister Blair.
Like many other observers, this website has consistently deprecated the way in which an almost completely unregulated City has eviscerated many parts of the UK economy by short-termism and resisting investment, swindled and exploited its customers, robbed the poor and grossly over-rewarded its leaders. These industries have also made a major contribution to the shocking levels of inequality in the UK. What have Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron et al had to say on these matters? Nothing, their silence has been deafening.
Many commentators have been negative about the supposed greed of Tony Blair and his quest for wealth. This does not worry us unduly. If the man has a need to pursue money for the power and lifestyle that it brings, good luck to him.
What worries us most is the likely impact on top politicians' judgment, moral compasses and behaviour that the prospect of future preferment and wealth might bring.
It is quite simple. Top politicians interested in keeping the wolf from the door after retirement can ensure success by following two simple rules:
- Do nothing to upset or alienate the US establishment, or you might not be invited to join the lecture gravy train.
- Ensure that all your words and deeds convince the finance industries that you are staunchly on their side, no matter what......