Thanks to author Tom Bower, whose new book, Broken Promises, is packed with devastating revelations about the post-political career of Tony Blair, we now have a rich, full portrait of a man who turned his generation’s most successful career in British politics into a formula for a massive money grab. We’ve spent the last week examining some of the more egregious examples of Blair’s stoogery.
But let’s not forget that behind every avaricious man is an equally money-grubbing woman. Well, sometimes, anyway. So it’s appropriate that one of the Daily Mail‘s illuminating excerpts from Bower’s book is devoted to Cherie Blair’s international cash-collecting activities. Bower notes that when first accused of having dealings with the government of Qatar, Blair denied it, because he naturally didn’t want to be tied in anyone’s mind to “a corrupt dictatorship that supported extremist Muslim groups, suppressed freedom of the Press and was accused of offering bribes to win the FIFA football World Cup in 2022.”
It’s true. Strictly speaking, as far as Bower has been able to determine, Tony Blair has had no dealings with Qatar. But his wife did. Since his retirement, their careers have been in remarkable parallel. When he left No. 10, she quit her barrister job, too; while he founded two charities, she started two charities of her own, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the Africa Justice Foundation. He established Tony Blair Associates; she created Omnia Strategy, through which she worked as a “consultant” to governments in the Middle East and Africa.
In her capacity as doyenne of Omnia, Cherie Blair collected a handsome sum from the wife of a Qatari sheik who wished to meet with Hillary Clinton, who at the time was the U.S. Secretary of State. After Cherie had pummeled Clinton with 19 e-mails, the former First Lady agreed to meet with Cherie’s Qatari client. Ka-ching! Cherie also made money off of the Albanian government. And Rwanda, too. In the case of Rwanda, the Blairs operated as an efficient tag team. Bower tells this charming anecdote about it:
Cherie had been due to meet the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who was widely accused of being a mass murderer, to discuss the creation of a justice ministry in his impoverished country.
But she didn’t show up to their planned dinner in London. Instead she explained she had an “emergency.” “I can’t come,” she said, “but Tony says he’d happily join you.”
At the dinner, Blair set out his stall. “You are a man with a vision, a leader I’ve always admired,” he told Kagame. “Now you need advisers to show you how to run a government, and I’m your man.”
Kagame agreed to welcome Blair’s team. In return, he was also introduced to the international circuit of leaders’ conferences across America and in Davos, where Blair presented him as Africa’s “Mr Clean.”
No one mentioned the continuing massacre of Hutus in the neighbouring Congo by militia dispatched by Kagame….
Blair’s friend won the Rwanda election in 2010 – but the beheaded corpses of leaders of the small opposition party were found strewn about the countryside.
Blair ignored all this and hailed his protégé’s success.
Nor was Cherie out of the picture. Last year, when General Karenzi Karake, the head of Rwanda’s spy service, set foot on British soil, he was arrested on an international war-crimes warrant issued in Spain. Whom did he hire to fight extradition? Why, none other than Cherie, natch. With a straight face, she walked into a courtroom and described the repellent war criminal as a “hero.” Released on bail, he was let go on a legal technicality, whereupon he quickly flew back to Rwanda, and safety.
Cherie had earned her pay.
In a sentence that is a masterpiece of understatement, Bower sums up the former PM’s family business: “Today, with his tangled web of charity and private interests, Blair remains at the centre of a bewildering number of enterprises.” Yet amid all this bewilderment, there’s one fact that’s beyond doubt: almost a decade after Blair left office, he and his wife are truly rich. Bower reports that they’ve “spent more than £25 million on UK property alone.” Yet, like the Clintons, “Blair cannot resist seeking new deals.” More often than not, those deals involve ignominious Third World despots and hangers-on who amass fortunes on the backs of oppressed multitudes. Blair, who once promised to rid the planet of such leeches, is now getting his big, juicy cut of their purloined pies. Somewhere, Churchill is not smiling.