Since leaving office in 2007, former prime minister Tony Blair has, according to the Daily Telegraph, amassed a £20 million fortune (estimates vary). How’s he done it? Selling himself to the highest bidder.
On the very same day he handed over to Gordon Brown, Blair stepped into the job of official representative to the Middle East for the UN, EU, USA and Russia.
He then set about collecting a series of consultancies, advisory positions and board memberships for institutions like JP Morgan Chase, Zurich Financial Services and the UI Energy Corporation — a South Korean oil firm that operates in Northern Iraq.
He put himself on the “lecture circuit” where he imparts his wisdom at the cost of $250,000 per ninety minutes.
Now he has set himself up as a “friend for hire”. According to the Telegraph he “developed a relationship” with Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev when he was prime minister. Now Nazarbayev is paying Blair to “improve [Kazakhstan's] standing in the West.”
Nazarbayev runs one of the world’s most oppressive governments. According to diplomatic cables released through Wiki
Leaks, torture, abuse, suppression of democracy, the death penalty, political oppression, arbitrary arrest, corruption and discrimination are hallmarks of his regime.
Exactly how is Blair to “finesse” these realities? He could simply lie or explain such state driven measures as people trafficking as geographical and cultural quirks. But a simply internet search would reveal these facts very quickly.
But Blair will not have to “explain away” the realities of Nazarbayev's despotism. The people Nazarbayev wants to do business with are not troubled by such things. Nazarbayev needs Blair to open doors to the JP Morgan’s of this world.
With friends like Tony Blair, Nazarbayev will be going places. With friends like Nazarbayev, Blair will continue to line his pockets.