“I know Tony didn’t lie, I know I didn’t lie,” he said. “But when you have made as part of your case, the fact that you have stated in your honest conviction, that this is about tackling Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the inspectors go in and they don’t find them, that’s a pretty obvious trust moment.”
Campbell is trying the “I honestly believed” defence when the truth is that he wrote a whole dodgy dossier full of lies. This cnut’s proper place is rotting in a prison.
BRITAIN must not be complicit in Israel’s ongoing crimes against humanity, Palestine’s ambassador to Britain warned today after reports emerged that Tony Blair may become involved in Israel’s ethnic cleansing.
The former prime minister and warmonger visited Israel last week to discuss a possible role in mediating the relationship between the country and Arab nations after the war on Gaza.
The role would include a part in Israel’s plan of resettling Palestinians in other countries, according to the Times of Israel.
Mr Blair has so far denied the reports.
Palestinian Mission to the UK head Husam Zomlot said the role would help Israel to “implement the mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland under the guise of ‘voluntary migration’.”
He said in a statement: “We call on the UK government to ensure that no British figure will in any way take part in Israel’s ongoing crimes against humanity.
“We are adamant that any who do will have to bear the legal consequences of such immoral and criminal acts against the Palestinian people.”
Rachel Reeves engages in a New Labour tradition of plaguarism in her book. Tony ‘c********r’ Blair and Alastair Campbell engaged in huge plaguarism in drafting the Dodgy dossier and were also found out in short order.
Labour leader’s 28 junkets include Spurs hospitality, two Coldplay concerts and a £380 dinner from Google at Davos
Keir Starmer has accepted more free tickets to events such as sports matches, concerts and parties than the combined total of every other Labour leader since records began in 1997, openDemocracy analysis has found.
While the Labour leader spent his first year and a half in the role under lockdown, he has quickly made up for it, accepting gifts from donors including multi-millionaires, gambling giants, the online shopping app GETIR and the construction giant Mulalley & Co on 28 separate occasions. The gifts include days at the races, hospitality at Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur matches, an Adele gig, and two separate Coldplay concerts. In total, they are worth nearly £30,000.
In his five years as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn only accepted one such freebie: tickets to Glastonbury, where he spoke on the pyramid stage in 2017. Former Corbyn adviser Andrew Fisher told openDemocracy the Islington North MP had made a point of turning down corporate hospitality.
“Politicians at any level shouldn’t be beholden to corporate interests,” he said. “They’re elected to represent the people, and are well paid for it.”
His predecessor, Ed Miliband, only accepted tickets to the London Olympics and Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies, and a number of the contests during the games. Gordon Brown accepted no such gifts during his time as Labour leader and prime minister.
While Tony Blair led a jet-setting lifestyle – including accepting summer holidays with the regional president of Tuscany and in Cliff Richard’s holiday home in the Caribbean – he accepted fewer gifts than Starmer in his whole time as prime minister, and usually donated the value of any such freebie to a relevant charity.
‘An indulgent retreat’
Companies giving Starmer and his office gifts include the groceries delivery app GETIR, the fast food delivery company Just Eat, and Matthew Moulding, chief exec of the online retail warehouse firm The Hut Group, which has recently expanded into the hotels business.
openDemocracy understands Moulding put Starmer and three others up in his luxury Manchester hotel The King Street Townhouse on the night of 1 June. The boutique hotel has an infinity pool with views over Manchester’s iconic town hall. Its restaurant advertises “a dining experience you’ll remember forever” while The Telegraph has described it as “an indulgent retreat in the city centre”.
A spokesperson for The Hut Group would not comment on why they provided Starmer and others with free accommodation in their hotel.
Meanwhile, GETIR gave Starmer “four tickets with hospitality for Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal,” worth £1,600. The match attended by Starmer, who is an Arsenal fan, took place at the Spurs stadium, where the executive suite advertises “private gourmet dining” and “beautifully crafted menus… crafted by world famous chefs”.
Speaking to openDemocracy, a staff collective of GETIR employees in Germany, where the firm is more established than the UK, said it was “like working in a cartel”, and that employees are often too afraid to speak out against the violation of their rights. GETIR didn’t respond to openDemocracy’s request for comment.
Just Eat handed Starmer two sets of tickets in 2021 – to the British Kebab Awards, and the ‘Taste of London’ event, both of which he gave to staff in his office. The firm is currently facing legal action from lawyers representing thousands of its workers over allegations that it denies them basic rights like holiday pay and minimum wage by categorising them as self-employed.
Recent reports have indicated that Starmer is now considering rolling back on previous commitments to enhance rights for workers in sectors like the online delivery market, where jobs are notoriously precarious.
In total, Starmer has accepted tickets to 11 football matches, in most cases in exclusive executive suites, and also two rugby matches.
Starmer has also attended two glamorous days at the races, including six tickets with hospitality for Doncaster Races in autumn 2022 worth more than £3,000, thanks to the Arena Racing Company. The race course’s fine dining restaurant offers a package which includes a glass of prosecco on arrival, a “three course plated lunch” and exclusive views of the track for the day.
In June this year, Starmer accepted a “private box for four people at Epsom Downs Racecourse, including catering and admission tickets, total value £3,716”, courtesy of the Jockey Club. Epsom Downs’ VIP experience includes a champagne reception, free bar and a four-course meal, as well as exclusive views of the race track.
Speaking to openDemocracy, Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, said: “The same Labour leader that refuses to meet with climate justice campaigners is selling off his time to the highest bidder. Concerning for gambling reform campaigners is his willingness to accept hospitality from the gambling industry, including racing which has actively lobbied against affordability checks in defence of the operators. Policy drafted by the vested interests that have Starmer’s ear will only benefit corporations at the expense of protecting consumers.”
In January this year, Starmer accepted a meal for himself and an aide worth £380, as a gift from Google while he was in Davos at the World Economic Forum. In June, the Labour Party abandoned plans to introduce a digital tax on big tech firms like Google, which had been estimated to be worth £3bn.
North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll, who quit the Labour Party last month and has spoken out against Starmer’s leadership, said: “I’ve been offered tickets for the executive boxes at [Newcastle United stadium] St James’ Park, expensive dinners by lobbyists, hospitality for sporting events – and I turn them all down. It’s wrong to take perks when you’re elected to do a job.
“Why does an MP need free tickets to the football or Coldplay concerts to do their job? At best it’s a culture of entitlement.”
Starmer is paid £149,682 a year for his work as an MP and as leader of the opposition, and also received an £18,450 advance for a book in 2022 from the Rupert Murdoch-owned publishing house Harper Collins. The Labour Party did not respond to openDemocracy’s request for comment.
Today the NHS is in a deep crisis. Its millions-long waiting list condemns patients to seriously delayed treatments, often painfully, sometimes dangerously. Its hospitals are so overloaded ambulances line up outside, waiting hours to discharge patients.
Those who can afford it are going private: the number paying for private hospital treatment has risen by nearly a third since 2019.
This raises demand for trained medical workers in the private sector, with reports earlier this year that doctors were being offered £5,000 to recruit NHS colleagues to undertake private work, accelerating a vicious cycle in resource competition when the NHS already carries over 100,000 vacancies.
The logic is towards a two-tier healthcare system in which those who can pay get faster treatment while the “universal” health service is reduced through under-resourcing to basic cover for the poor.
Preventing this means challenging the two main drivers of NHS decline: underinvestment and privatisation.
Since Tony Blair first introduced private provision within the NHS, the service itself has become a lucrative source of private profit. Extortionate PFI contracts, state collusion with big pharma over drug prices and reliance on private providers all waste NHS money.
The last risks turning our health service into a commissioner rather than a provider of services, a brand name that masks a for-profit health system.
That betrayal of Bevan’s vision is the current prospectus from both Tories and Labour. Saving the NHS means building a mass campaign for real solutions to its twin crises: a serious increase in investment, and an end to all private-sector involvement.
The Labour leader was appearing on Times Radio on Thursday when he quizzed on briefings from senior figures within his own party that he was planning to fill the House of Lords with “dozens” of new peers – despite previous pledges to abolish the chamber altogether.
I’ve started looking at the excusing of establishment paedophiles under the ‘establishment man’ Keir Starmer after he’s accused Rishi Sunak of excusing paedophiles. Greville Janner got away with it for decades and Tony Blair ennobled him in an act of establishment paedophile excusal.
Alex Carlile may well have had no idea Janner was a paedophile. After all, he shared a cramped parliamentary office with Cyril Smith for many years, and apparently never realised that Smith was a prolific paedophile. Possibly Alex Carlile is simply a particularly unobservant man.
It is however unfortunate that Starmer chose to appoint as the legal eagle to exonerate him over Jimmy Savile, the wife of the stalwart parliamentary defender of Britain’s second most prominent paedophile. I presume that Starmer never noticed that either, just as he did not notice the decision by his office and the staff under him not to prosecute Savile.
It is extraordinary that these people manage to become so rich and powerful when they are entirely unobservant. Especially as Levitt, Starmer, Carlile and Jenner were all top QCs.
Anyway, that is just an everyday tale of unobservant folk.
21/4/23 , Tony Blair’s former flatmate was featured in a post on this blog in an extremely unflattering way, accused by me of behaviour close to the subject of this post. My blogs have had incidents with posts disappearing and that one now appears to be absent.
21/4/23 Oops, made a mistake there Charlie Falconer was Blair’s flatmate.
OPINION: Instead of launching a war, the US and UK could have weaned us off the fossil fuels that pay for the brutal regimes of dictators
Twenty years ago today, [20 March] war was once again unleashed on Baghdad. In the UK – and much of the rest of the world – people sat in front of their TVs watching the skies above the ancient city flash with flame as buildings were rendered to rubble, the limbs and lives inside crushed.
The real victims of George Bush and Tony Blair’s shock and awe were, of course, the people of Iraq. Estimates of violent deaths range from a hundred thousand to a million. That doesn’t include the arms and legs that were lost, the families devastated, the melted minds and broken souls, trauma that will shatter down generations. It doesn’t include anyone killed in the conflict since then: there are still British and US troops in the country. It doesn’t include the poverty resulting from crushed infrastructure, the hopes abandoned and the potential immolated.
And that’s just the 2003 war: Britain has bombed Iraq in seven of the last 11 decades.
But in far gentler ways, the war was to shape the lives of those watching through their TVs, too. The invasion of Iraq – along with the other post-9/11 wars – was a road our governments chose irrevocably to drive us down. And we, too, have been changed by the journey.
The financial cost of the Iraq war to the US government, up to 2020, is estimated at $2trn. The post-9/11 wars together cost the US around $8trn, a quarter of its debt of $31trn. Much of the money was borrowed from foreign governments, in a debt boom which, some economists have argued, played a key role in the 2008 crash.
It was in this period, in particular, that China bought up billions of dollars of US government debt. Just before Barack Obama was elected in 2008, Beijing had overtaken Tokyo as the world’s largest holder of US Treasury bonds. Today, America’s neoconservatives are obsessed with China’s power over the US. What they rarely mention is that this was delivered by their wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Britain’s financial contribution was more meagre – in 2015 the UK government estimated it had spent £8.1bn on the invasion of Iraq, and around £21bn on Afghanistan. But these are hardly figures to be sniffed at.
Also significant, in both cases, is where this money went: the Iraq war saw a revolution in the outsourcing of violence. In 2003, when the war began, the UK foreign office spent £12.6m on private security firms. By 2015, just one contract – paying G4S to guard Britain’s embassy in Afghanistan – was worth £100m.
Over the course of the wars, the UK became the world centre for private military contractors – or, to use the old fashioned word, mercenaries. While many of these are private army units, others offer more specialist skills: retired senior British spooks now offer intelligence advice to central-Asian dictators and, as we found out with Cambridge Analytica during the Brexit vote, psychological operations teams who honed their skills in Iraq soon realised how much money they could make trialling their wares on the domestic population.
This vast expansion of the military industrial complex in both the US and UK hasn’t just done direct damage to our politics and economy – affecting the living standards of hundreds of millions of people across the world. It has also distorted our society, steered investment into militarised technology when research is desperately needed to address the climate and biodiversity crises.
Similarly, the war changed British politics. First, and perhaps most profoundly, because it was waged on a lie, perhaps the most notorious lie in modern Britain, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Acres of text have been written about the rapid decline in public trust in politicians in the UK in recent years. Very few grapple with the basic point – that, within the memory of most voters, a prime minister looked us in the eye, and told us that he had to lead us into war, based on a threat that turned out to be fictional. There are lots of reasons people increasingly don’t trust politicians – and therefore trust democracy less and less. But the Iraq war is a long way up the list.
Obama – who had opposed the war – managed to rally some of that breakdown of trust into a positive movement (whatever you think of his presidency, the movement behind it was positive). So did the SNP in Scotland.
But often, it went the other way. If the war hadn’t happened, would Cleggmania have swung the 2010 election from Gordon Brown to David Cameron? Probably not. And this, of course, led to the second great lie of modern British politics, the one about tuition fees and austerity.
Without the invasion, would Donald Trump have won in 2016? Would Brexit have happened?
There is a generation of us – now approaching our 40s – who were coming into political consciousness as Iraq was bombed. Many of us marched against the war, many more were horrified by it. The generation before us – Gen X – were amazingly unpolitical. Coming of age in the 1990s, at the end of history, very few got involved in social movements or joined political parties.
When I was involved in student politics in the years following Bush and Blair’s invasion, student unions across the UK were smashing turnout records. Soon, those enraged by the war found Make Poverty History, the climate crisis, the financial crisis and austerity. A generation of political organisers grew up through climate camps and Occupy and became a leading force behind Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, helping organise a magnificent younger cohort of Gen-Zers which arrived after us.
But I shouldn’t end on a positive note. The disaster predicted by the millions across the world who marched against the war has played out. Hundreds of thousands have died. The Middle East continues to be dominated by dictators.
This war was justified on the grounds that Saddam was a threat to the world. But while his weapons of mass destruction were invented, scientists were already warning us about a very real risk; already telling us that we had a few short decades to address the climate crisis.
Rather than launching a war that would give the West access to some of the world’s largest oil reserves, the US and UK could have channelled their vast resources into weaning us off the fossil fuels that pay for the brutal regimes of dictators. Instead, we incinerated that money, and the world, with it.
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Dublin City University (DCU) has rejected a proposal to award Tony Blair an honorary doctorate for his work on the Good Friday Agreement.
The former British prime minister had been proposed for the honour alongside Bertie Ahern.
However, the Sunday Independent understands the university’s governing authority rejected the nomination over fears it would lead to a backlash due to Mr Blair’s role over the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
“The decision was made that Mr Blair would be too controversial. They felt the Iraq war would bring too much negative attention to the university,” a source said.