Category Archives: Tony Bliar

Tony Blair tells Labour to return to the centre ground to win again

Editor’s Note: A Century of Spin by David Miller and William Dinan contains two excellent chapters (8 and 9) on the rise of New Labour that are well worth a read.

Toby Helm reports for The Guardian:

Tony Blair Ed Miliband's resilience.Tony Blair has insisted that Labour can recover from its disastrous general election defeat only if it reoccupies the centre ground of British politics, proudly championing a pro-business agenda and bold new ideas to reform public services.

As the party attempts to come to terms with a devastating result that saw the Conservatives returned to office for five more years with an unexpected Commons majority, the former prime minister and three-times election winner said Labour has to be “for ambition and aspiration as well as compassion and care”.

While generous about Ed Miliband – praising him for showing “courage under savage attack” and campaigning brilliantly – Blair made clear in an article in the Observer that he believes Miliband’s left-of-centre agenda alienated the business community and failed to appeal to those wanting to get on in life. In an unashamed call for the party to return to the approach of New Labour which Miliband abandoned, Blair wrote: “The route to the summit lies through the centre ground.’

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The Tony Blair connection: from Abu Dhabi to Colombia

Edward Malnick, Robert Mendick and Harriet Alexander report for The Telegraph:

P5210987Quartet Representative Tony Blair en route to Israel from a World Economic Forum meeting at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt (Israeli fighter aircraft were scrambled to intercept Tony Blairs jet - the two warplanes adopting an attack position  no one on board was aware of any problem at the time). May 21, 2008     Perhaps Tony Blair always had half an eye on lining his pockets once outside the confines of Downing Street. Or maybe it was simply that the commercial opportunities presented themselves as he criss-crossed the globe on one do-gooding philanthropic mission after another.

Whatever the truth, the reality is that eight years after leaving high office, business is booming for Mr Blair.

His global consultancy offers investment and strategic advice to governments, corporations and billionaires. Mr Blair, although he denies it, is reckoned to be worth between £50 million and £100 million with several houses and a country estate among his assets.

The road to riches — make that the private jet flight to a fortune – began almost the moment he stepped out of the front door of Downing Street as prime minister for the last time in June 2007.’

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Interview with Francis Beckett, co-author of ‘Blair Inc: the Man Behind the Mask’

‘Francis Beckett, one of the co-authors of Blair Inc: the Man Behind the Mask, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about former PM.’ (Going Underground)

Tony Blair Is Terrible at Promoting Human Rights, Great at Enriching Himself

Murtaza Hussein writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Tony Blair Is Terrible at Promoting Human Rights, Great at Enriching Himself[…] After almost a decade as envoy, it’s hard to see anything Blair has done to bring Israelis and Palestinians any closer to peace. The two parties are farther apart than ever by most accounts, with Israeli leaders publicly disavowing the “two-state solution” the Quartet on the Middle East was created to bring about. During Blair’s tenure, a Palestinian official described the group as “useless, useless, useless.” A Brookings Institution report concluded that “the Quartet’s role was usually relegated to that of a political bystander.”

But although he failed to broker peace, Blair did manage during his time as special envoy to transform himself into a well-paid and outspoken apologist for some of the most brutal autocracies in the world. The former prime minister, who once positioned himself as a principled supporter of democracy, even famously waging a war to bring democracy to Iraq, now leads a consulting firm that has reportedly received tens of millions of dollars doing advisory work for dictatorial governments in the Middle East and Central Asia.’

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Report: Tony Blair to resign as Middle East peace envoy

Haaretz and JTA report:

Tony BlairTony Blair is preparing to resign his position as a peace envoy to the Middle East, a report said on Sunday.

According to the Financial Times, the announcement of the former British prime minister’s resignation from his role as the Middle East Quartet’s special envoy will possibly be made this week.

On Saturday, the former British prime minister reportedly met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Red Sea resort city Sharm el-Sheik to discuss a job change, according to the newspaper. Blair also spoke with UN foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Blair is currently negotiating over a “recast” of his position in the group, sources told the Times, adding that Blair intends to remain involved in the Middle East peace process.’

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Iraq War report delayed until after UK election

BBC News reports:

Sir John Chilcot‘[…] MPs have demanded that the report be published before voters go to the polls in May.

However, Nick Robinson said the process of giving witnesses time to respond to allegations against them, which began last autumn, cannot be completed in time for this to happen.

He said he expected Sir John to set out the reasons why the report could not be completed in time, a development first reported by the Guardian, on Wednesday.

Ministers had made it clear that the report would have to be finished by the end of February to allow enough debate on its contents before Parliament rises at the end of March ahead of the election.’

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Angry MPs challenge ‘stitch-up’ over delay of Chilcot report on war in Iraq

Jamie Doward and Chris Ames report for The Guardian:

Tony Blair and George Bush shake hands‘Furious MPs are planning a parliamentary debate to challenge an alleged “stitch-up” that could delay the report of the Iraq war inquiry until after the general election.

A cross-party coalition has demanded that parliament’s backbench committee allocate half a day to discussing the continuing delay in publishing the Chilcot inquiry’s findings, which are expected to include severe criticism of the UK’s decision to join the US-led invasion in 2003.’

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Tony Blair ‘could face war crimes charges’ over Iraq War

Christopher Hope reports for The Telegraph:

Tony Blair‘Tony Blair could face war crimes charges as a result of the Iraq war inquiry report, the House of Lords has been told.

Lord Dykes of Harrow Weald, a Liberal Democrat peer, claimed that the publication of the inquiry by Sir John Chilcot was being delayed “to prolong the agony” of the former Labour Prime Minister.

Lord Hurd – who as Douglas Hurd was Conservative foreign secretary from 1989 to 1995 – said the delay was now “becoming a scandal”.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire, a Government minister, disclosed for the first time that talks over the publication of the gist of conversations between Mr Blair and George W Bush, the former US president, were now completed.

These talks have held up the publication of the report. But he said that if the report is not published by the end of February, it will be delayed until after the general election.’

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David Cameron: I am not in control of when Iraq war report is published

Rowena Mason reports for The Guardian:

‘David Cameron has conceded he has no control over when the Chilcot report into the Iraq war will appear after previously urging the inquiry to publish before Christmas.

[…] There have been lengthy delays to the five-year inquiry because of diplomatic negotiations between the US and UK about what can be revealed from correspondence between Blair and former president George Bush.

There have been reports, however, that Blair and others criticised by the inquiry have now received official notifications of what it will say about them and been given the chance to respond.

Blair’s office insists that he has no interest in delaying publication and he would like the report published so he can justify his actions in the face of claims that he misled the public about the reasons for going to war.’

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Tony Blair: ‘I’m worth £9.5m not £100m and, like role model Henry Kissinger, will not retire’

Lewis Dean reports for the International Business Times:

‘Tony Blair has cleared up the issue of his wealth by claiming it is equal to what he has donated – about £9.5m. Since leaving Downing Street in 2007, reports have estimated the former prime minister’s wealth as being up to £100m. But in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Blair said his wealth had been overestimated.

[…] During a wide-ranging interview, Blair, who led Labour to three consecutive election successes between 1997 and 2005 and cast a looming shadow over the Labour party and British politics, named former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres as his role models.’

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Save the Children staff furious over ‘global legacy’ award for Tony Blair

Harriet Sherwood reports for The Guardian:

Tony Blair at the Save the Children Illumination Gala in New York City‘The international charity Save the Children has been engulfed by a furious backlash from staff after it presented Tony Blair with a “global legacy award” in New York last week – despite privately acknowledging that he is a controversial and divisive figure.

Amid widespread criticism on social media, many of the charity’s staff have complained that the presentation of the award has discredited Save the Children (STC). An internal letter, which gathered almost 200 signatures – including senior regional staff – in the first six hours of dissemination, said the award was not only “morally reprehensible, but also endangers our credibility globally”, and called for it to be withdrawn.

It said that staff wished to distance themselves from the award and demanded a review of the charity’s decision-making process.’

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Tony Blair’s Murky Millions

Tony Blair’s secret deal with Saudi Arabia

Jon Stevens reports for The Daily Mail:

‘Tony Blair has amassed a personal fortune since standing down as prime minister – often acting as an adviser to controversial businesses and regimes.

But yesterday the hefty fees he charges to act as a go-between were revealed.

A previously secret contract with a Saudi oil company headed by a member of the country’s royal family has been leaked showing Mr Blair charging £41,000 a month and 2 per cent commission on any of the multi-million-pound deals he helped broker.

The emergence of the Saudi deal led to new criticism of Mr Blair’s role as a Middle East envoy, but he strongly denied there is a conflict of interest.’

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Tony Blair named as one of top gay icons of past 30 years

Editor’s Note: Another award for Tony Blair when he should be serving a long jail sentence for war crimes. He may have done some good things for the LGBT community in Britain, but what about the LGBT community in places like Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships that Blair has cuddled up to for many years? Don’t they count? 

The Press Association reports:

Tony Blair has been recognised as one of the top gay icons of the past three decades, along with figures such as Boy George, Sir Ian McKellen and Barbra Streisand.

He has been given the accolade by Gay Times to mark its 30th anniversary.

Blair’s period as PM saw the lowering of the gay age of consent, bringing it into line with that for straight couples, as well as the introduction of civil partnerships.

Gay Times said Blair’s status as an ambassador of gay rights was undeniable.’

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The new ‘Blair rich project’: Pushing the Trans-Adriatic pipeline against Italians’ objections

Claudio Gallo writes for RT:

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (Image from wikipedia.org by Genti77)‘[…] Yo, Blair – what are you doing this time? He is pushing a huge global project in the name of some big guys who care less than nothing that the local people don’t want it.

The scheme is, as always, a case of powerful elites against ordinary people, and guess which side he is for? He is gazing now at Puglia’s southern coasts in his capacity of facilitator of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, nominated in 2012 for Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the TAP consortium of energy, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, formed by British oil giant BP (20 percent), Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR (20 percent), Norway’s Statoil (20 percent), Belgium’s Fluxys (16 percent), France’s Total (10 percent), Germany’s E.ON” (9 percent) and Switzerland’s di Axpo (5 percent). It’s a 2,000-mile pipeline transporting gas from Shah Deniz-2, the biggest Azeri gas field in the Caspian Sea, across Turkey, Greece and Albania to Italy.’

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‘Tony Blair is a crusader’ says former deputy PM John Prescott

Tony Blair Faith Foundation ‘assessed’ by charity watchdog after concerns raised about former PM’s influence

Lizzie Dearden reports for The Independent:

‘A charity watchdog will meet with representatives from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation after a former employee claimed the ex-Prime Minister uses it as a “think-tank” for his private office.

The Charity Commission said it was “assessing” the concerns raised and will publish a report but has not started an official investigation or identified any “regulatory issues”.’

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Disbelief as Tony Blair is handed ‘jaw-dropping’ philanthropist of the year title at GQ awards ceremony

Tamara Cohen and Jim Norton report for The Daily Mail:

‘Tony Blair was last night improbably named philanthropist of the year by a leading magazine. The former prime minister was handed the award to a ‘muted’ response at a celebrity-packed gathering in central London. It was in recognition of his ‘philanthropy, establishing three charities’.

GQ magazine’s decision drew immediate criticism, with Labour MP John Mann saying last night: ‘It sends the wrong message. This sort of award should go to an unsung hero who has given up their time for charity.’ Tory MP Charlie Elphicke pointed out that Mr Blair has advised Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, including on how to improve his image after his police killed 14 unarmed protesters. He said: ‘It is jaw dropping that he should be given this award given his involvement in spinning the alleged brutal massacre in Kazakhstan.’

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Tony Blair advises Kazakh president on publicity after killing of protesters

Haroon Siddique reports for The Guardian:

Tony Blair‘s role advising countries with poor human rights records has come under scrutiny again after he gave Kazakhstan‘s president advice on how to avoid his image being tarnished by the killing of 15 civilian protesters by police… The former Labour leader’s consultancy, Tony Blair Associates, set up in the capital, Astana, in October 2011, signing a multi- million pound deal to advise Kazakhstan’s leadership on good governance, just months after Nazarbeyev was controversially re-elected with 96% of the vote and weeks before the massacre.

[…] Activists say Blair’s appointment has produced no change for the better or advance of democratic rights. In its World Report 2014, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the country’s “poor human rights record continued to deteriorate in 2013″. It said torture remained common and referred to restrictions on free speech, dissent and religious worship… Blair and his companies have been awarded a string of multimillion consultancy contracts with private corporations, dictatorships and regimes, including, Kuwait, the UAE and Colombia.’

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Tony Blair’s Egypt links in spotlight after HRW report on Rab’a Massacre

Chris Green reports for The Independent:

‘Tony Blair’s close ties to the Egyptian government have been called into question after some of the country’s key officials were accused of collaborating in the “widespread and systematic” killings of more than 1,000 protesters. A year-long investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that Egyptian security forces “systematically and deliberately” killed large numbers of mainly unarmed demonstrators who had gathered in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo last August to protest about the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The group said the massacre was as bad as Tiananmen Square and that it “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”. It called for several senior Egyptian officials to be investigated for their role in the incident – including the country’s current President, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who was defence minister at the time. Tony Blair, who is a Middle East peace envoy, supported the coup against president Morsi and has voiced his support for the new Egyptian government. He is also acting as an informal adviser to Mr al-Sisi on economic reform.’

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Tony Blair sees his millions as modest – only in the world of the super rich

Simon Jenkins writes for the Guardian:

Tony Blair Marks The 20th Anniversary Of His Election As Labour Party Leader‘How rich is Tony Blair? What are the needs of an ex-prime minister with grown-up children, a working wife, £25m in property and bodyguards costing the state £1m a year? Blair protested yesterday that he is not worth £100m, “not half of that, a third of that, a quarter of that, a fifth of that, and I could go on.” That gets us down to below £20m. In addition, he pleaded that, “I spend two-thirds of my time on unpaid work,” such as bringing peace to the Middle East. How dare anyone suggest he was motivated by money?’

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Chilcot inquiry: Blair and Straw to get warning letters ahead of publication of report into Iraq invasion

Mark Leftly reports for The Independent:

‘Sir John Chilcot, chair of the public inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is poised to send formal letters to those whose conduct he criticises in his final report.

The then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, are among those expected to be sent what are known as “Salmon” or “Maxwellisation” letters in the coming weeks. Anyone criticised in public inquiries is entitled to see and challenge extracts related to them before publication. The letters are named after Lord Salmon, who held a public ethics inquiry in the 1970s, and the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell, who challenged the way criticisms of his dealings were handled in a public report.’

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Tony Blair to advise Egypt president Sisi on economic reform

Seumas Milne reports for the Guardian:

Tony BlairTony Blair has agreed to advise the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year, as part of a programme funded by the United Arab Emirates that has promised to deliver huge “business opportunities” to those involved, the Guardian has learned. The former prime minister, now Middle East peace envoy, who supported the coup against Egypt‘s elected president Mohamed Morsi, is to give Sisi advice on “economic reform” in collaboration with a UAE-financed taskforce in Cairo – a decision criticised by one former ally.

The UAE taskforce is being run by the management consultancy Strategy&, formerly Booz and Co, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, to attract investment into Egypt’s crisis-ridden economy at a forthcoming Egypt donors’ conference sponsored by the oil-rich UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Blair’s decision to become involved in Gulf-financed support of the Sisi regime, which is estimated to have killed more than 2,500 protesters and jailed more than 20,000 over the past year, has been attacked.’

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Tony Blair accused of conflict of interests in Middle East, plans to advise Egypt’s el-Sisi next?

Ian Black and Patrick Kingsley write for the Guardian:

Governments advised by Blair‘Iraq’s latest bloody crisis and its links to the 2003 war brought Tony Blair back into the headlines this week, along with calls for him to step down as a Middle East peace envoy – but new evidence has emerged that his private business interests in the ever-volatile region are expanding. Aides to the former prime minister confirmed that he was actively considering opening an office in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, which is in the frontline of the struggle against political Islam. But a spokesperson denied suggestions by a leading Arab economist that he was being considered for a job advising Oman on its long-term development, after his controversial £27m consultancy project for the Kuwaiti government in recent years.

Retired diplomats and political enemies united to demand Blair be sacked as the envoy of the Quartet – the UN, US, Russia and EU – after achieving little to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace in seven years. Blair’s Middle Eastern activities cause some irritation in Whitehall, where officials say they are not always aware of what he is doing and exactly who he is representing in meetings abroad – even though he is routinely briefed by British embassies. “He moves in mysterious ways,” quipped one senior figure. “The Blair organisation is like a sort of government with different departments doing different things,” an ex-employee said. “His office is run on Downing Street lines. It’s like he’s never not been PM.”‘

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Little Tony Blairs of Kosovo: The boys named after the “great man”

‘When Nato eventually intervened in 1999 to stop the ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, the UK prime minister Tony Blair was hailed as a hero. As refugees returned to the province, several new parents of baby boys called their sons Tony Blair. Now, fifteen years on, the Guardian’s Julian Borger returns to Kosovo to hear how their lives have turned out – and their hopes for the future of a fledgling state still struggling for full international recognition.’ (The Guardian)

Is Blair mad – or just defending himself ahead of Chilcot report?

From The Week:

Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London, has this morning accused Tony Blair of being “mad” and in need of “professional psychiatric help” because of his refusal to face the fact that the 2003 invasion of Iraq has led inexorably to the Isis attacks on cities across Iraq. But is the former Labour prime minister “mad” – or is he carefully getting his defence ready for the imminent publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war? Is it, in short, a pre-emptive strike? The speculation has been fuelled by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who said this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme that he believed the Chilcot report would be “coming shortly”.’

READ MORE @ THE WEEK…

Tony Blair: west must intervene in Iraq

Patrick Wintour, Tracy McVeigh and Mark Townsend report for The Guardian:

Tony BlairTony Blair has urged western governments to recognise that they need to take an active role in the Middle East, saying the west should consider military options short of sending ground troops. The former prime minister said there was a huge range of options available, including air strikes and drones as used in Libya.

Blair was speaking on UK morning TV shows after writing a lengthy essaysetting out how to respond to the Iraq crisis, including his belief that theinvasion of Iraq in 2003 was not the cause of the country’s implosion. He said: “It is in our interests for this jihadist extremist group to be stopped in its tracks. I understand entirely why people say ‘it is nothing to do with us and I don’t want to hear about it’.” But he said the jihadis “are not simply fighting Iraqis and they are also willing to fight us and they will if we don’t stop them”.’

READ MORE @ THE GUARDIAN…

Iraq Crisis: Created by Bush & Blair and Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

‘So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.

From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.

Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks?

The story of Iraq and the story of Syria are the same – politically, militarily and journalistically: two leaders, one Shia, the other Alawite, fighting for the existence of their regimes against the power of a growing Sunni Muslim international army.

While the Americans support the wretched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his elected Shia government in Iraq, the same Americans still demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his regime, even though both leaders are now brothers-in-arms against the victors of Mosul and Tikrit.’

READ MORE @ THE INDEPENDENT…

The Chilcot Inquiry: British Government Blocks Transparency

Felicity Arbuthnot writes for Uruknet:

‘Amidst howls of “whitewash” from media commentators and interested observers of all political hues, it seems the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war are finally to be published by the end of this year.

The Inquiry, Chaired by Sir John Chilcot, ran from autumn 2009 to February 2011. The Report is expected to run to several thousand pages with the total cost incurred from the date of the establishment of the hearings “on 15th June 2009 up to 31st March 2012 — £6,129,000.” As of 16th May this year, “On the present timetable, the Inquiry may incur further costs of some £2 million.”

From June 2013 to November 2013 the Inquiry “submitted ten requests covering some two hundred Cabinet-level discussions and twenty five Notes” from Tony Blair to President Bush “and more than one hundred and thirty records of conversations between either” Tony Blair or subsequent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush.

Finally, on May 28th, Sir John published his letter to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood recording their “agreement on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet level discussions between the (former) UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States which the Inquiry has asked to use in its Report … My colleagues and I judge that this material is vital to the public understanding of the Inquiry’s conclusions.” In the letter he also recalls some of the hurdles that have been put in the Inquiry’s path by the British government, past and present.’

 

READ MORE @ URUKNET…

Tony Blair is a tragic narcissist with a messiah complex, says former friend

From the Press Association:

Tony Blair is a narcissist with a messiah complex who lives a tragic life, according to his former friend Robert Harris. The bestselling author, a once close confidant of the former prime minister who has since become a fierce critic, lashed out at Blair for turning his back on parliament once he quit as PM to go and “hang out with a lot of rich people in America”.

In his latest attack on the former Labour leader, he also holds up Lord Mandelson, who has been known to associate with a super-rich crowd, as a paragon of plain living and frugality compared with Blair. Harris, a former political journalist, is the author of The Ghost, a book turned into a film about a former British prime minister who faces being hauled in front of the international criminal court for alleged war crimes, which he previously described as being somewhere “between reality and fiction”.’

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