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President Blair: The great escape

Issue 427

Anna Chen heaves a sigh of relief as Tony’s plans to conquer Europe are halted.

Which movie are we in? The final act of The Omen? Or maybe Goodfellas?

After heroically stalling the advance of Tony Blair by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty, which would (among other horrors) create the role of President of the United States of Europe, the Irish were told to vote again until the required result was reached. So they finally caved in and midwifed the birth of the monster like something out of The Omen and for a few moments it looked like only an act of God stood between us and a Blair shoo-in. Cue shrieking horror chords.

With his abasement before the rich and powerful, free holidays, dodgy dossiers and phantom weapons of mass destruction, dead government scientists, a mushrooming property portfolio, a million dead Iraqis and British soldiers returning in body-bags, first President of the US of E is not the final destination many of us find most appropriate for Blair, even if the imaginative demises in the Final Destination movies are suitably poetic.

Presiding over this country’s wealthiest decade ever, where the gap between rich and poor widened into a chasm with oceans of money siphoned off by various privatization schemes, millionaire status is hardly just desserts for someone who was supposed to be serving us as Labour Prime Minister.

Garlanded with praise from powerful men welcoming the newbie into their club, swaddled in the warm embrace of the high-paying lecture circuit, honoured among the élite, the ego massage did enough damage for an army of wannabe Masters Of The Universe, and now they want to make him unelected President of Yurp? Move over, Pope Benny, ‘cause he’ll have his middle finger in your Big Ring, next.

Blair has made his bones and claimed his dues. He’s been having a high ol’ time, travelling the world and hoovering up his rewards. Some £2.5 million a year from JP Morgan, the bank that co-ordinated the ‘revamping’ of Iraq’s financial system and made a fortune from the war he started. A million-dollar honorarium from an Israeli university for Britain’s Middle East peace envoy. Some might holler ‘conflict of interest’ and set the cops onto him but maybe they do things differently now.

When he looks in the mirror, does he know that it isn’t the beatific numinous aura of the martyr he’s beaming out? This is the thousand-yard stare of empty space. Blair may aspire to Gandhi as played by Ben Kingsley but he’s more like Sir Ben as Don in Sexy Beast.

If the unelected post of President had gone to this man, what would the rest of the world have made of our much-vaunted western civilization? ‘It would be a good idea,’ as Gandhi once said. Or is that the voice of Blair’s inner Don I hear, telling himself, ‘You got some fuckin’ neck, ain’t you? You should be ashamed of yourself. Who do you think you are? King of the castle? Cock of the walk?’

Anna Chen is a writer, performer and broadcaster.

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This article was originally published in issue 427

New Internationalist Magazine issue 427
Issue 427

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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