Sunday, September 10, 2006


The humiliating Yo Blair scene at the G8 meeting in St Petersburg when American President George W Bush, his mouth full of food, dismissed the British Prime Minister’s wish to visit the Middle East as war raged in Lebanon, revealed the real state of their ‘special relationship.’
Tony Blair looked like a lackey making nuisance of himself as the US Commander-in-Chief tried to enjoy lunch.
The image has haunted him ever since and will doubtless be republished when he finally leaves office.

From the start, as he soared onwards and upwards in politics, Blair has always known how to get what he wants from people.

Conservative at heart, all he really had in common with Old Labour was a mutual need for power, which he could never achieve in the Tory Party and Labour’s divisions had denied it for fifteen years when they elected him leader in 1994.

His admiration of the very rich, who he has lavishly entertained at 10 Downing Street, soon became common knowledge and, as he struggled to pay mortgages on property in Bristol and London’s Connaught Square, was believed to have regretted his power did not bring loads of money.

The dynamism of the powerhouse that is Washington DC is dazzling. For Blair the court at the Bush White House proved fatally seductive.

Bush became his Sun King and the Bush White House his Versailles.

Soon he was running his premiership like a presidency with Parliament relegated to outer darkness as he treated MPs as lobby fodder and disdained the House of Commons tearoom where he could meet them.
Disliked and distrusted as he became, his ruthless, iron rule style of government forced Labour’s warring factions to hold their peace and gained the Party three consecutive election victories for the first time in its history.
But in the thrall of the White House, he pursued a disastrous foreign policy which has fomented home-grown terrorism in Britain with his slavish support for Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and failure to utter a single word of criticism of either Israel or the US in the Lebanon war.
Iraq will hallmark the legacy about which he remains so concerned, even as British casualties both there and in Afghanistan continue to rise and the bodies of the war dead arrive home almost daily.
What he seemed to forget, until Bush painfully reminded him in St Petersburg, is that the very rich and powerful can take gladly without feeling any obligation to give in return.
At best Blair has been no better off than a 19th and early 20th century merchant who grew rich and titled on trade and tried to impress an Old Aristocracy who accepted his hospitality but never considered him an equal. He has seemed nouveau, though the American word for it, shoddy, may be more apt.
Blair and Britain have gained nothing but trouble and the loss of young men’s lives from the fatal relationship which has been a powerful element in his being forced to agree to give up his job a lot sooner than he wished.
But if he can cling to office long enough to allow several contenders to get leadership campaigns going, he may help to spare the country from Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister.
Brown, who is reported to have demanded a dual premiership during the alleged shouting match at No 10 last week, is simply not a leader – something he proved beyond all doubt when he didn’t have the guts to swing his supporters to vote against the war in Iraq. And lost his best chance to become PM.
Blair’s future?
British Prime Ministers do not always make a success of life after leaving office. Until shortly before his death Edward Heath sulked for decades on the backbenches. Margaret Thatcher has never got over her brutal dismissal.
But not long after his plea was so contemptuously dismissed by Bush in St Petersburg, Blair was lauded and applauded by the rich and powerful when he addressed a meeting of the American foreign relations great and good in Los Angeles. As he moved among them afterwards, his body language radiated that he felt at home, as if he had found where he belonged at last.
It might suit him best to go west for good and join his wife on the lucrative lecture circuit with several highly paid multinational directorships and a multi-million dollar book deal thrown in.
It would not make good the damage and pain he has inflicted on Britain but, at a personal level, becoming rich at last might be some consolation for the tragedy of his seduction by the White House of George W Bush.

Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2006. All Rights Reserved.