The Cartoon Convert from Hell
Amid the risible eulogies to 'Paisley the Peacemaker' which followed the recent retirement of Northern Ireland's celebrated bigot, a more earthy recollection was proffered by a colleague of Tony Blair. Apparently aggrieved by some aspect of the peace negotiations, Ian Paisley had phoned Mr Blair and delivered a trademark tirade, subjecting the British Prime Minister to a torrent of abuse. Asked how he coped with such a prolonged and bad tempered rant, Mr Blair replied that he couldn't take it too seriously because at the time he was with his kids, watching The Simpsons!
Aficionados of Homer, Bart and all the dysfunctional citizens of Springfield who feature in the satirical cartoon series will find this highly amusing, since Ian Paisley is a living caricature of the fulminating hell-and-damnation Protestant minister; made-to-measure for The Simpsons. The PM must have felt he was interacting with a Springfield inhabitant on the TV before him!
Yet this anecdote is also telling insofar as it speaks to Mr Blair's own dysfunction in mind and spirit. For the phone call would merely have served to reinforce Blair's warped and puerile view of religion: a world where ranting Paisleyites (those intolerant "forces of conservatism" he has blamed for British woes) stymie the cause of tolerance and peace advanced by the elastic 'faith' of progressives (like his sodomite buddies at Stonewall).
That, dear reader, is about as deep and nuanced as religion gets in the cartoonish parallel universe inhabited by Tony Blair. Certainly, one can easily mock the bilious, egotistical Paisley. Yet he is far more authentic than Blair will ever be because he holds to actual beliefs and principles, however wildly wrong some may be. The embodiment of the first generation in history to believe in nothing, it is the self-absorbed and vacuous ex-Prime Minister himself who belongs in The Simpsons. Its liberal creator Matt Groening would make hilarious mincemeat of the life and times, mind and soul of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair: the vanity and conceit; the inveterate lying and duplicity; the naked ambition and greed; the rampant cronyism and corruption; the grinning arrogance; the fanciful, shallow and ultimately ruinous moral, social and political purviews.... - all neatly wrapped in the self-justifying "inclusive" religion he recently espoused in England's primary Catholic cathedral.
Groening might even consider the rise of this surreal character to the heights of power and his eventual reception into the Holy Catholic Church by the scandalously inept Cormac ("Comic") Murphy O'Connor, as worthy of its own cartoon series, to run alongside The Simpsons. Perhaps The O'Blairs, starring "Comic" O'Blair: a composite of the two tragi-comic figures, political and ecclesial, who finally converged in faux-faith to effect the sort of non-conversion which defines our syncretic age.
The naive reader will ask: Who are we to cast doubt on the sincerity of anyone's conversion? Yet as we shall see, nobody fakes 'sincerity' quite like Mr Blair. Even so, they will say, it seems rather judgemental. Is not God our judge? True enough, God alone judges souls. Yet we are called always and everywhere to judge public behaviour which scandalises the innocent and injures our holy Faith. And since the patently unrepentant Blair's 'conversion' and his subsequent feting as "The Cardinal's Guest Speaker" in Westminster Cathedral rates with 'The Cardinal's Sodomite Masses' in Soho [CO, Nov. 2007] as England's greatest public scandal since the Council, we must do our critical duty and take a closer look at this politician who for so long and in so many ways has affronted the Church and aggrieved the Catholic faithful.
Let us see what Mr Blair's background, public life and political record tell us about the man and the true nature and worth of his 'conversion'. In so doing, we might also compare the diseased fruit he spawned with the fruitful abundance produced by the selfless Gabriel Garcia Moreno, as recounted by Frank Rega in the second part of his inspiring summary.
Cult of "change"
Contrary to Moreno, of course, who drew his strength and clear-sighted conviction from the pristine well of Catholic teaching, the fevered mind and imagination of "Comic" O'Blair dwells in the swamp of subjectivity. It is here, on this corrosive common ground, where religious Modernists and secular Liberals eschew the Gospel of Jesus Christ to preach their social gospel: a humanistic creed sustained by the cult of "change".
This is the evolutionary core and purpose of Liberalism: endless "change" as a means of negating immutable, objective truth. In this way, the stability, continuity and rationality of a world rooted in divine and natural laws is replaced by a dysfunctional, fractured, incoherent world in a state of flux, collapsing under the relativistic weight of man-made positive law.
Far from being deterred by such a disastrous pass, however, shallow churchmen and politicians embrace the mantra of "change" because it veils their lack of faith, principles and courage. If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, "change" is his buzz-word of choice. Nor has its saturation usage over two generations deterred the hollow men. During a 5 January 2008 TV debate between the Democratic presidential candidates, for instance, John Edwards and Barack Obama mentioned "change" no less than 62 times in 90 minutes!
Incessant talk of "change" is one thing. It is something else, though, to base your entire government rationale on this empty slogan and all its clichéd cousins ("new", "renew", "rebirth" etc.) and pass them off as weighty stratagems during three election victories, despite the manifest and shocking failure of one phoney initiative and headline-grabbing gimmick after another.
Clearly, habitual lying, voter apathy and the economic 'feel good' factor all helped to keep the gravy train on track, not to say gerrymandering (the first two huge Labour majorities being delivered on minority shares of the vote and the reduced 2006 majority garnering the votes of only 21.6 per cent of the electorate). But such a political feat requires additional elements. To parade the vacuous as substantial and rank failure as glorious success with apparent conviction over a ten year period as the country collapses in a heap around you, suggests a heightened level of conceit and self-delusion. Indeed, the warning signs were evident early on.
Cult of personality
In Free At Last! Diaries 1991-2001 [Hutchinson, 2002], veteran Labour MP Tony Benn records on 18 December 1994: "Talked to Joan Lester [Labour MP and former Party chairman]. She said she had tried to speak to Blair but he simply wouldn't listen. 'He's empty, there's nothing in him at all,' she said."
In two 1995 entries, Benn writes with prescience: "We just prattle on about values and fairness and equality, without any substance at all ... Blair and his cronies just want to get into power. ... He doesn't inspire anyone. Nobody loves him, because he doesn't want them to do anything except admire him, obey him and give money."
Blair set about creating what Benn quickly identified as "the cult of personality." He describes how in February 1996, for instance, each and every Labour MP was handed no less than 30 photographs of Blair with strictly controlled instructions from Labour Party Headquarters on how they were to be used in publicity. The Benn diaries repeatedly underline this corrupting mixture of ego, narcissism and control now synonymous with Blairism and present from the outset of the New Labour project.
A disillusioned former Downing Street aide, David Clarke, one of the architects of New Labour and Blair's rise to power, has plainly stated that "New Labour has been constructed around a cult of the personality and the conviction that Tony Blair's image is its only important asset."[The Mail on Sunday, 13/1/02]
This celebrity culture and preoccupation with "change" and "youth" all flowed from Mr Blair's formative years in the rootless, superficial Sixties. At Oxford, as lead singer of a student band, the Ugly Rumours, he was known for his Mick Jagger impersonations, and like Sir Mick (knighted during his tenure) the psycho-spiritual essence of Blair remains frozen in adolescence. Ever ready to pose with his Fender Stratocaster guitar, he once remarked that "Within everyone of my generation, there's an aspiring rock singer waiting to get out." Harmless in itself, this puerile mindset is disastrous when determining the fate of nations.
"This is a new age, to be led by a new generation," he proclaimed while launching New Labour in October 1995. "I want this country to be young again." In Tony Blair: The Man Who Lost His Smile [Robson Books, 2003], Leo Abse recalls how Blair hammered home these simple messages again and again, "repetitively, deploying the same staccato phrases, like some vulgar stage hypnotist":
His vision, he declared, was: "The party renewed. the country reborn. New Labour. New Britain" The imagery of birth positively saturated his words. At one point he told his followers: "I know that for some of you, New Labour has been painful. there is no greater pain to be endured in politics than the birth of a new idea." All this induced a frisson in observers of my generation. We have heard that language before in the mouths of fascist demagogues.
A Labour MP for nearly 30 years and then a prolific author on political psychology, Abse had observed the dangerous vacuum behind the rhetoric when he first met and worked alongside the young Blair in Parliament twenty-five years earlier:
I noted the newcomer's talent for combining the pronouncement of banalities with a distaste for anchoring them in solid detail. Above all, I observed his constant need to place himself and his politics in a conflict-free zone. [...] The young Blair wanted us to retreat from ... harsh reality into empty moralising. In the years that followed, as he rose to the leadership of my party and the country, such an approach became his trademark. Even when he appeared to be making a tough stand, it was usually a sham. The enemies he conjured up were often non-existent ones whom he could easily overcome: his well publicised 'battles' - such as the abolition of Labour's Clause Four commitment to public ownership - were, in reality, bloodless charades.
Crucially, Abse also notes that when confronted with real opposition, Mr Blair "invariably fumbles and seems non-plussed." One recalls his June 2000 humiliation, befuddled and dazed by the slow handclapping and heckling at a genteel Women's Institute conference ["Our Blairite Bishops," CO, Oct. 2000]. While televised sessions of Prime Minister's Question Time saw him reduced to a helpless, blushing mess whenever articulate Tory leader William Hague exposed his serial failures to devastating effect at the despatch box. Apropos this weakness, there is a telling entry in the Benn diaries:
3 June 1994: Telephoned by a woman who told me that, during the last election, her job was to drive Blair. She was with him throughout most of the campaign. She said that whenever he got bad press, he became very upset and would phone Gordon Brown, who would say: "Don't worry, Tony, it will be all right tomorrow." She got the impression that Blair was a weak man and wouldn't stand up to criticism. I found this a real insight into his character.
It also sheds light on his determination to limit his exposure to scrutiny as far as possible: bypassing Parliament (which huge Labour majorities turned into a passive instrument of the executive) while subverting collective Cabinet government. This ensured, as former Blairite insider David Clark explained in 2002, "that all power and authority in Whitehall flows personally from Blair. The few remaining checks and balances in the British constitution have been swept aside. The result is government by whim. With the exception of Gordon Brown, Cabinet ministers have virtually no autonomous policy-making function. Their role is to carry out the will of the Prime Minister."
Earlier, in a 17 November 2001 BBC documentary, the late Mo Mowlam, a Blair minister for four years, had said it herself. "Tony's acting more like a President than a Prime Minister and in that situation the Cabinet itself is dead. He makes decisions with a small coterie of advisers, just like the President of the United States." On the same programme, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott unwittingly confirmed that even the momentous decision to make the Bank of England independent, just after Labour's 1997 election victory, was taken without Cabinet consultation.
Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler, who worked closely with Mr Blair when Labour first swept to power, also said Cabinet government "virtually disappeared" under Mr Blair's leadership. Condemning Blair's "sofa" syle of informal government during a discussion at the Hay literary festival on 29 May 2007, he claimed that just one decision was taken by the Cabinet as a whole during the first eight months of Blair's tenure. In keeping with New Labour's modus operandi, where image and gloss trump reality and substance, Butler stated that Cabinet meetings were "not discussions or decisions about policy" but, rather, "What are the issues of the week and what is our message about them?" He lamented that Mr Blair would make crucial decisions with a handful of aides in his Downing Street "den". Instead of consulting Cabinet colleagues, the Prime Minister relied on a small circle including his Chief of Staff, Director of Political and Government Relations, Foreign Policy Adviser and his notorious Director of Communications, Alastair Campbell.
Having also observed this development at first-hand, David Clark reflected that "Those around Blair have no grasp of the fact that in diminishing the Cabinet they have diminished the Government itself."
Birds of a feather
It was mendacious spin-maestro Alastair Campbell, of course, who directed this strategic turning of Downing Street into a presidential bunker. Since you can tell a lot about a man by the close company he keeps, Mr Campbell adds much to our understanding of the real Tony Blair.
A thuggish, foul-mouthed former pornographer, ex-"red top" journalist, reformed alcoholic and, doubtless, future star as "Comic's" sidekick in The O'Blairs, Campbell became Mr Blair's right-hand man in 1994. In the eyes of many he was 'the real Deputy Prime Minister', famous for keeping the PM and his Ministers, all Labour MPs, a largely compliant media, Whitehall and anyone else he could bully - "on message".
As the late Daily Mail columnist Lynda Lee Potter recalled: "Tony Blair dispensed the charm and Alastair issued the threats. He was prepared to ruin the livelihoods and reputations of dissident journalists. His vindictive, haranguing telephone calls were legendary. Reporters who stood up to him were punished and isolated. Access to the Prime Minister and Cabinet members was denied, information withheld and smear campaigns orchestrated. [...] Alastair Campbell's ability to control the Prime Minister is unprecedented in political history."
In his 2002 article, David Clark recounted "a briefing for special advisers given by Alastair Campbell which he used to chide Ministers for failing to use certain approved slogans in their interviews and speeches." This was routine. According to one regular attendee at Campbell's daily 8.30am meeting in Downing Street, it was Campbell who decided what the ministers would say, including the Prime Minister.
Mr Blair feebly accepted such barking of orders by his ferocious guard dog because Campbell had orchestrated both the politicisation of the Whitehall press corps, replacing neutral civil servants with New Labour apparatchiks, and the near total stitch-up of the British media, Left and Right, which got him elected and ensured that he stayed in power.
Treachery and treason
Campbell's 'expertise' was vital because although he could count on the Left wing press and the liberal-Left bias of the BBC [CO, Feb. 2008], Blair desperately needed the support of the erstwhile Tory-supporting Murdoch press, which constitutes about 35 per cent of the newspaper circulation in Britain. He was prepared to sell his soul, his country and his very dignity to gain that endorsement. Campbell provided the contacts and direction.
In October 1995, when Mr Blair is making his first tentative approaches to Mr Murdoch, former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan confides in his published diary: "Blair is clearly terrified of [him]".(1) In that vein, Tony Blair became Rupert Murdoch's obliging creature from Day One of his premiership, flying half way around the world to speak at a Murdoch conference shortly after he became PM. Thereafter, the symbiotic relationship never flagged and Blair would plumb ever new depths in order to curry favour with Rupert's massive, voyeuristic Page Three readership. On the eve of the 2005 election, for instance, during an interview with The Sun, he and his wife boasted about their sexual prowess. Introduced with a lewd front page headline and carrying a photograph of a bare-chested Prime Minister inside, Blair was quoted as saying, in response to a question about his fitness, that he was "ready for it…five times a night" (emblematic of the vulgarity, impropriety and patent self-deception which marked their Downing Street years).
For his part, Murdoch gained in return an easy ride apropos predatory pricing of his newspapers and the monopoly enjoyed by his Sky satellite channel in televising British Premier League soccer matches. But his leverage was far more substantial.
Despite Alastair Campbell's sorry efforts to convince anyone who'll listen that the billionaire boss of News International in no way influenced his boss, Lance Price, his Downing Street deputy for three years and still a staunch New Labour supporter, preferred to tell the truth. In The Spin Doctor's Diary [Hodder & Stoughton, 2005] he called Mr Murdoch "the 24th member of the Cabinet": He went on: "His presence was always felt. No big decision could ever be made inside No.10 without taking account of the likely reaction of three men, Gordon Brown, John Prescott and Rupert Murdoch. On all the really big decisions, anybody else could safely be ignored."
The "big decisions" were just that, including those on Europe, about which Price wrote: "We've promised News International we won't make any changes to our Europe policy without consulting them."(2)
In July 2007, after four years of blocking disclosure of the contacts between Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch, the Cabinet Office finally released details under the Freedom of Information Act which lend weight to Price's account. It transpires that there were six telephone discussions between Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch in 20 months, all at crucial moments of his premiership. Among three conversations between them in the nine days leading up to the Iraq war was a call made by Blair to Murdoch on 19 March 2003, the day before Britain and the United States invaded Iraq. The war was strongly supported by Murdoch-owned newspapers around the world.
Another conversation took place on 25 April 2004, just after Mr Blair bowed to pressure led by The Sun for him to promise a referendum on the proposed EU constitution. Mr Murdoch is virulently anti-euro.
Thus, Blair's 'government by sofa' was all of a piece with his deceitful 'government by media' as micro-managed by Campbell. One newspaper pundit righteously thundered: "Our contempt should be reserved for Mr Blair. It's clear from the diaries of Lance Price that the PM has betrayed both his party and his country. Influence is one thing but giving a media proprietor such control over policy is spinelessness so outrageous that it cries out for punishment."
Certainly, this wicked strategy of retaining power through media patronage went far beyond the Tories' relationship with the Murdoch press, or the toadying of yesteryear when politicians like Winston Churchill and Michael Foot cuddled up with Express proprietor Lord Beaverbrook (3). And, yes, it was spineless and treacherous. Yet Blair's army of spin doctors did more lasting damage. By manipulating language to an unprecedented degree, draining words of their original meaning or giving them opposite meanings, his huge public relations machine corroded the political process: successfully blurring the line between words and actions.
In its 2008 Lexicon, a dictionary compiled to help decipher buzz words and phrases, the Centre of Policy Studies think-tank says: "New Labour has taken this disguise [of appearing to be active] to new heights in its desire to be seen to be solving every problem. Talking about a problem has come to mean the same as doing something about it."
In 2003, the spin backfired explosively when Mr Blair's "sexed up" dossier on Iraq intensified public distrust of government. Deeply concerned, former Prime Minister John Major lambasted the spin doctors, labelling spin "the pornography of politics". A fitting analogy given Alastair Campbell's first journalistic endeavour: writing accounts of sexual exploits for top-shelf magazine Forum, under his pen-name "Riviera Gigolo". (Storylines for The O'Blairs write themselves; even Matt Groening couldn't make them up!)
Subsequently, Major produced a booklet entitled The Erosion of Parliamentary Government, in which he insists that spin "perverts. It is deceit licensed by the Government. Statistics massaged. Expenditure announced and reannounced. The record reassessed. Blame attributed. Innocence proclaimed. Black declared white: All in a day's work."
Some of Blair's comrades concurred. Respected former Labour MP Frank Field was moved to comment: "Even if the Government's press releases were now approved by St. Peter, people would still wonder whether there was some trick on the way." And he added: "Although it's easy to blame Alastair Campbell, it's the Prime Minister who approves it, because if the Prime Minister wanted to stop it, he would stop it." Precisely.
In September 2002, Channel 4 ran Control Freaks: The New Labour Machine, a documentary by former top civil servant Martin Sixsmith which laid bare all the lying, cynicism and smear utilised by Blair for short-term political advantage. It was a frightening insider view of the gross abuse of political power in a moral vacuum. A place where pragmatism rules through the overriding dictum: "What works is what counts, and what counts is what works." The sort of environment which encouraged spin doctor Jo Moore not only to suggest that September 11, 2001, was "a good day to bury bad news," but to blithely ignore the furore she caused and repeat the dose five months later by suggesting that some railway news be released on the day of Princess Margaret's funeral.
An example of routine spin was the regular re-announcement of Government spending, made on the basis that people would think more cash was being provided each time. Or a difficult policy, especially involving welfare reform, was assuaged by offering a friendly journalist an "exclusive preview" but actually providing a carefully doctored version, suggesting the announcement was going to be much tougher than the Government ever intended. This created an outcry in the media (e.g. that widows' benefits were to be axed), so when the real policy was released (merely tightening the payment rules) it was accepted with a sigh of relief as a reasonable measure. "It was a technique used to great effect over and over again," said Sixsmith, who found the Civil Service being pressured to abandon its traditional and crucial impartiality to join the manipulation and falsehood. He considers this willingness to undermine the safeguards of trust and integrity of the Civil Service for personal and Party gain one of the most corrupting tendencies of the Blair government: "I found widespread alarm among public servants that Britain's democratic guarantees are being poisoned and abandoned."
Vicious and deadly
In addition to this institutional damage, Campbell's spin-and-smear tactics sanctioned by Blair were personally destructive. Martin Sixsmith himself was targeted and nearly destroyed for merely seeking to prevent Jo Moore's deceitful spin.
When Rose Addie, an old lady who had been left on a trolley in a hospital corridor without care or attention spoke out about her treatment, the bad publicity prompted the spin doctors to label her a racist to deflect attention from the failings of the NHS. "We can say she's a racist and refused to be tended by black nurses," was the cynical outcome of the daily 8.30am Downing Street discussion, said Sixsmith.
Survivors of the Paddington rail crash who simply wanted to prevent the same thing happening again were similarly treated. Pam Warren, who was badly injured in the crash and campaigned for new safety measures, told the Daily Mail that the spin doctors were looking for information about her private life that they could use to impugn her integrity. Subsequently, they branded the group as Conservatives with a Tory agenda, to show them up as political crusaders with an anti-Labour agenda.
The mendacity and deceit reached its zenith/nadir with the suicide or murder of Iraqi weapons expert Dr David Kelly.
After straying "off message" this unassuming academic was ruthlessly exposed as the BBC source for a story calling into question Mr Blair's WMD rationale for going to war. Displaying what his former supporter, novelist Robert Harris, writing in The Guardian recently called "the selfishness and indifference to others that have always been the least attractive marks of his personal and political style," Blair let the Downing Street attack dogs smear and dismiss Kelly as a "Walter Mitty" fantasist, ruining his career and reputation while thrusting him into the eye of a political storm.
Either the strain was too much and he took his own life (official verdict), or he was killed by sinister forces desperate to invade Iraq and topple Saddam for one reason or another. Either way, his body was found in woodland near his home.
The brother of Dr Kelly's widow is in no doubt where the blame lies. After years of dignified silence, he spoke up for the family last month in response to Cherie Blair dredging up the affair to promote her memoirs and absolve her husband. "It's somehow so typical of the Blairs to make use of Dai's death to show the world what a wonderful man Tony Blair is," he said. "So far as I'm concerned, my brother-in-law's death was caused by what went on at Number 10 and what they said about him. Where else was the furore created but in her husband's office, with all that wicked nonsense being fed to the media that Dai [the family's name for Dr Kelly] was a 'Walter Mitty' character and so on."
In defying the Cabinet Secretary's attempt to prevent publication of his aforementioned memoirs, Campbell's former deputy Lance Price verified all of this: confirming our worst fears about Mr Blair, how he ran the country and the way the Party he formed in his own image is prepared to lie and cheat to get its message across (in which Price candidly admits he was involved, if not always willingly). He paints a damning and chaotic picture of a Government making major policies on the hoof, sometimes minutes before Blair went on TV. This rings true, given so many of his hare-brained initiatives, clearly launched on a whim and never followed through. Who could forget his cunning plan to march thugs to a cashpoint for on-the-spot-fines, or his brainwave about free CDs and clothes for hooligans as an "incentive for responsible behaviour"!
Such thoughtless gestures reflect the intellectual incoherence marking all his schemes. The half-cock remodelling of the House of Lords; the back-of-a-bus-ticket scheme for a Supreme Court; the shambolic devolvement of Scotland and Wales; the Millennium Dome fiasco; the unworkable fox-hunting legislation....
Among his most catastrophic acts, however, was the target-setting culture he imposed on civil administration. This utilitarian plank of political correctness is a major reason why people fear the implementation of all Blairite legislation, since government "targets" have turned 6 million state employees (up 900,000 under Blair with nearly 1.25 million in central administration) into form-filling, box-ticking Stalinist robots. In the process, justice and commonsense have been obliterated. Some examples:
In Squandered [Constable & Robinson, 2008], a review of the financial cost of the Blair years, Craig details the astonishing waste of our hard-earned cash "in a sorry spectacle of ever-shifting policies, consistent stupidity and inveterate incompetence that is probably unequalled in British history."(4)
He reveals that between 1997-2007, despite increased public spending of more than one trillion pounds (about £1,229,100,000,000, or £50,000 per family) to meet its promises to transform hospitals, schools, police, pensions and social services, New Labour is making precisely the same commitments now as it did at the outset. In other words, this unimaginable ocean of money, including £64 billion spent on 1,163 quangos (unelected government agencies which have rocketed by 50 per cent under Labour and now cost each household more than £2,5000 a year) has made no impact. He concludes that despite all the increased taxes, incorporating dozens and dozens of stealth taxes, "it's far from obvious that there has been the slightest improvement in any of our public services."
On the contrary, they have steadily regressed. Labour bungling of the new NHS contracts for GPs is emblematic. Recent National Audit Office figures reveal that doctors are now in receipt of a 58 per cent increase in pay to work nearly seven hours less per week than before the contracts were introduced in 2004, putting a huge strain on A&E departments outside office hours and leaving practice nurses to carry out more than one in three consultations, up from one in five. So clueless was Whitehall in bringing about this disastrous outcome, that the new contracts have cost £1.76 billion more than ministers budgeted for - that's £176, followed by seven noughts.
It would take very many entire editions even to approach the full measure of such ineptitude and the unfulfilled and broken promises made by Mr Blair. Just to mention the latest plaint to hand, a damning report released on 14 May by the Confederation of British Industry accuses the Government of pursuing flawed policies on law and order which have left "stubbornly high" reoffending rates little changed in the 11 years since Labour came to power. With two-thirds of criminals convicted of another offence within two years of leaving jail (and a reoffending rate among all teenagers of more than 37 per cent), crime costs the country £60 billion a year, of which more than £9 billion is committed against businesses. The CBI claims that even cutting the reoffending rate by just 10 per cent would save £1 billion a year - enough to pay for nearly 50,000 extra NHS nurses or to build more than 40 schools. It calls for radical action to restore faith in the courts and prison system, including more schemes to find jobs for criminals released from jail.
This desperate plea from the captains of industry, to which so much more could be added about stratospheric crime rates and the shambolic penal system, reveals the trademark vacuity of Mr Blair's flagship catchphrase: "Tough on crime; tough on the causes of crime". In fact, even a measly 10 per cent reduction in recidivism, not much to ask over ten years, proved beyond him. As with everything else, he left the taxpayer to pick up the tab for "an endless merry-go-round of crime-court-custody."
This is indicative of the Blair years across the board. Despite his "education, education, education" mantra and spending 90 per cent more on education than in 1997, Britain has plummeted in the international OECD ratings since 2001: from eighth to 24th place in maths, from seventh to 17th place in reading, from fourth to 14th place in science. Illiteracy remains shockingly high, 30,000 pupils leave school each year without any qualifications at all, and there are now more 16-24 year-olds who are both unemployed and unemployable than any other European country. The big losers, of course, are the poorest pupils, who are socially trapped by the massive decline in standards, moreso now than in the Fifties.
In cahoots with his radical feminist comrades like the now Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, who openly states that marriage has "little relevance" to public policy and describes high rates of separation as a "positive development" as it reflects "greater choice" for couples (never mind the children), Mr Blair also pursued a relentlessly destructive drive against the traditional family. On taking office he immediately scrapped the Married Couples' Allowance and skewed the tax and welfare system to encourage single parenthood. By the time he left, a married couple who separated or divorced could earn an extra £4,000 in benefits and those who didn't work were 35 per cent better off on their own. Tax credits also benefit children in single parent households more than those who live with mum and dad.
Commenting on this contempt for the family, the Daily Mail asked: "Is it just coincidence that Britain has the highest rate of divorce in the EU, the highest number of teenage pregnancies and the highest proportion of fatherless children? Is it surprising that we also have a high rate of child poverty (not to mention educational failure, crime and drug abuse)?"
In March 2008 the front cover of America's Time magazine graphically portrayed the implosion triggered by Blair's withdrawal of any fiscal or moral support for marriage (apart from the "gay" variety, the introduction of which he claims as his most satisfying achievement). It carried a picture of a young English "hoodie" (delinquent) surrounded by a disintegrating Union flag. The headline read: "Unhappy, unloved and out of control - an epidemic of violence, crime and drunkeness has made Britain scared of its young." In its report, Time cites a survey by the children's charity TS Rebel which found last year that more than a fifth of Britons avoided going out at night rather than risk encountering groups of intimidating youths. Many CO readers will identify with that finding, which doubtless has much to do with the current record levels of emigration (250,000 leaving Britain last year, up 20 per cent on 2006 and a jump of 70 per cent on the 149,000 in 1997 when Blair took the reins).
Masking the void
So, this fleeting glimpse of the abject national condition is what Mr Blair conjured up over ten years and left behind; an outcome he views with pride and satisfaction. And we have not touched upon the unprecedented destabilisation associated with his uncontrolled immigration; or his murderous bio-ethical legacy summarised in last month's edition; or his relentless assault on civil liberties and sovereignty, whether insidiously via the Common Purpose network (5) or overtly through the introduction of the Human Rights Act and escalation of the EU sell out, which unelected foreign entity now makes over 80 per cent of British laws!
While a superficial prosperity (fuelled by borrowed money) sated the natives and kept them docile, he got away with this failure, financial waste and treachery on a biblical scale primarily due to the autocratic centralisation and Orwellian culture of spin and micro-management directed so furiously by Alastair Campbell and Mr Blair's other minder and best friend, the Machiavellian sodomite Peter Mandelson.(6)
All this allowed near total control of events, at least until the invasion of Iraq, and thus avoidance of genuine scrutiny and accountability. It is important to realise, however, that the control, spin and smear was not so much a strategy as an ongoing damage limitation exercise: to keep exposure of Blair's insipidness and moral and intellectual deficiencies to a minimum.
Writer Peter Hitchens, for one, has long maintained that Mr Blair only took up politics in the first place "because he wasn't doing well as a lawyer". This rings true, since he obtained only a second-class degree at Oxford and an undistinguished third-class at the Bar. Moreover, in her recently released memoirs, Speaking for Myself [Little, Brown, 2008] Cherie Blair effectively confirms this view, recounting how her husband turned up late for his own 30th birthday dinner after boozing in a Fleet Street wine bar: "He had stayed drinking, he said, because he was really depressed. 'The thing is,' he said, 'I don't really want to be a barrister any more. I just want to be an MP'."
Subsequently adopted by a powerful clique of lawyers and trade union wheeler-dealers who found him a safe seat at the last-minute, he went on to stitch up the Labour leadership following the sudden death of former leader John Smith in May 1994, and with the sleaze-ridden Tories in decline and the Murdoch press behind him, was soon ensconced in Downing Street. He could scarcely believe his luck. Michael Levy, the former pop music impresario who became his chief fundraiser, tennis partner and Middle East envoy, met Blair right after the 1997 election for their usual Saturday afternoon tennis match:
When Tony and I finally made our way down to the tennis court, he suddenly stopped dead. He looked around, checking to make sure his security guards were not close enough to overhear him and then he did something truly astonishing.
He literally jumped up and down, like a small kid who had been let out of school for the day, and shouted, laughing out loud: "I really did it! Can you believe it? I'm Prime Minister! I'm Prime Minister! I'm Prime Minister!"
In other words, he was shocked to suddenly find himself in Downing Street because although he was a consummate opportunist and front man, he lacked the wherewithal for such a role. But he now knew that with his minders continuing to ease his path he could act the part and live out his fantasies while enjoying the status and perks to the hilt. "I particularly remember one Sunday," writes Levy, "when he turned to me after tennis and said, smiling: 'Michael, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Being Prime Minister is really pretty easy'."
Indeed it was. The Tories were decimated and his destructive social-engineering driven by 'change for change sake' could be centrally directed, controlled and applied to every area of British life unopposed. It hardly mattered, therefore, as Joan Lester observed at the outset of his push for Labour leadership, that there was "nothing in him at all."
He masked this intellectual and moral vacuum by attacking personalities rather than policies ("the politics of personal destruction" as its inventor Bill Clinton labelled it), in conjunction with a cringeing theatricality that saw him famously assume whichever persona, accent or emotion suited the occasion. Unbeknownst to Mr Blair, this thespian leaning which he had put to use as an enthusiastic actor in his school days, was inherited.
He admitted that it came as a shock when midway through his 1994 campaign to become Labour leader the Daily Mail revealed that his middle names, 'Charles Lynton', came from a grandfather he never knew - Charles Parsons, a music hall artiste whose stage name was Jimmy Lynton. Blair already knew his father Leo had been adopted, but now discovered that he was the illegitimate offspring of Parsons and another music hall performer, a wildly promiscuous woman named Celia Ridgeway. It is astonishing, as well as indicative of the dangerously sealed and self-absorbed world in which he lives, that Mr Blair had never questioned why he was given these names, just assuming it was part of family tradition.
In any event, this genetic predisposition to act saw him through all the lies and 360 degree turns (7) necessitated by the inadequacies which always threatened to thwart his ambition. The girly grin, easygoing charm and related narcissism were all part of it (8). As his friend and disgraced former Deputy PM John Prescott states in his recent memoirs: "Tony has a habit of saying things people want to hear. They believe him because they are charmed by his smiles and nods. That's why I used to call him Bambi when he first appeared on the political scene.(9)"
As we have seen, this kind of practiced deception is no way to run a country. And it points to the fundamental disorder suggested by Mr Blair's former colleague and International Development Secretary, Clare Short, in summing up her first-hand experience: "Blair is not at all well read; he doesn't attend to detail; he likes his own entourage; he thinks about politics through how you present things. He doesn't like big meetings and everything properly scrutinised. I think he is delusional."
This gets to the nub of Tony Blair and the fanciful, amoral, shameless world in which he wallows, wherein chronic failure is glorious success. The clear warning signs of self-delusion were there as early as December 1996 when he confided on the Des O'Connor Show that as a 14-year-old he had run away to Newcastle airport and boarded a plane for the Bahamas: "I snuck onto the plane, and we were literally about to take off when the stewardess came up to me," he recounted. This came as a surprise to his father, who is said to have exclaimed: "The Bahamas? Who said that? Tony? Never". It equally surprised authorities at the airport who pointed out that in the 61 year history of the Newcastle airport there has never been a flight to the Bahamas.
In November 1999, William Hague raised this telling deception in the Commons. Accusing the Prime Minister of being a habitual liar, he said Mr Blair found it "difficult to tell the truth about many things - however trivial." He also recounted another similar fantasy concocted by Blair during an interview with a local radio station in 1997. Speaking of his passion for football, said Hague, "the Prime Minister reminisced about watching his favourite Newcastle player, centre forward Jackie Milburn, from a seat behind one of the goals at St James's Park. Two problems with this - seats weren't installed behind the goals until the 1990s and Jackie Milburn left the club when the Prime Minister was four-years-old."
Now, the West is littered with Blair clones. Nicolas Sarkozy of France or Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, for instance. And in terms of portentous vacuity, Barack Obama is Blair on steroids! But the only contemporary Western politician who approaches Tony Blair's Olympian capacity for self-delusion is congenital liar Hillary Clinton. Like her husband, she consistently tells whoppers e.g. insisting that her daughter was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 (she was in bed watching it on TV), claiming that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary (he climbed Mt. Everest five years after her birth), and repeatedly describing how she endured sniper fire after landing in Bosnia in 1996, having to run to her car to dodge the bullets (the video showed her ambling off the plane, meeting children and being presented with flowers).
Hillary, however, is not the leader of her nation (Deo gratias!). A delusional tendency becomes a major political worry only when it informs decisions and behaviour directly affecting national and international affairs, as in declaring war. And while she has never admitted to dozens of other notorious "misstatements" (Hillary-speak for "lies"), she at least conceded that she "misspoke" about the above episodes. Well, it is something. One cannot recall Mr Blair ever admitting to his lies and wickedness apart from his forced U-turn in the 1997 "Cash for Fags" affair.
Shortly after taking office, a humiliated Blair returned £1 million to Formula One racing chief Bernie Ecclestone when it became clear that the Government had exempted Formula One from a ban on tobacco advertising in a venal quid pro quo. Calling on his thespian skills to exculpate himself in a rehearsed way which was to become depressingly familiar, Blair insisted that it was all a misunderstanding because everyone knew he was a man of integrity, a "pretty straight sort of guy" whose administration would be "whiter than white, purer than pure". In fact, anyone familiar with his history knew better; understood that behind the smile and false regret lay a mind which saw nothing wrong with such practice and would happily pocket the 'donation'. During a rare interview last February, Ecclestone himself finally confided: "Well, I do think Blair was bullied into giving [the money] back. I don't think it was totally voluntary."[Daily Mail, 16/2/08]
The Ecclestone saga set off the sleaze and corruption which engulfed New Labour and saw Mr Blair repeatedly protecting and defending dishonest men (Mandelson, Robertson et. al.). He also emasculated the Standards and Privileges Committee so as to spare cheating and lying Labour ministers and friends from rigorous investigation. Although deftly covering his own tracks in the process, eventually and inevitably, during the police enquiry into allegations that Labour donors were rewarded with knighthoods and peerages, he became the first sitting Prime Minister to be questioned (as a witness) in a criminal investigation. By denying any wrongdoing, per usual, he saved his own neck. But his chief fund-raiser, the hilariously ennobled Michael "Lord" Levy, himself cleared after being arrested twice in the course of the 16 month enquiry, charges in his memoirs that Blair knew all the Labour lenders and donors and decided which ones got peerages.
Over a period of ten years, from the blatant graft of "Cash for Fags" to having his collar felt by the old Bill in "Cash for Ermine", Blair reduced both Parliament and his own Party to pre-1832 Reform Act levels of snout-in-trough degradation.
Throughout his systemic poisoning of public life, however, this human wrecking machine clearly believed his own propaganda; that he was "whiter than white", a model of propriety and virtue and the greatest reformer in the Social Democratic pantheon.
Britain alone could never satisfy such rampant delusion. Having "renewed", "rebirthed" and "changed" his own country to such devastating effect, he naturally sought another outlet for his Reformist addiction and insatiable craving for attention. And so the Great Reformer at home was soon paralleled by the International Statesman and Warrior; his messianic persona which strutted the world stage impersonating a righteous moral force and spouting Churchillian lines like Laurence Olivier.
As he told delegates at a Labour Party conference, he now intended to "re-order" the world, suggesting he might kick start the process in the Congo or Rwanda. But Africa could wait. There were higher profile platforms from which to dispense his pious nostrums and morally earnest rhetoric.
He first rallied Europe and the US to embark on an illegal conflict in the Balkans and determined to bomb Kosovo back to the Stone Age because it was "a battle for humanity [and] a just cause": simultaneously enunciating his pre-emptive war-making "Doctrine of International Community" to rationalise all such invasions of sovereign countries who violate "human rights."
Then, portraying himself as a leader of high principle, standing alone, defiant, resolute and courageous, he went to war in Iraq because he had "no reverse gear", as he informed the Commons during a barnstorming address. Those who viewed him as a plausible chancer and flake whose word could rarely be trusted, suspected it might have more to do with playing the role of victorious leader in war while addressing soldiers in the Iraqi desert - which he subsequently did, allotting both to them and himself a "defining moment" in history. The sceptics were soon vindicated.(10)
Today, Mr Blair continues to act out this character through the Middle East peace mission appointment he obtained thanks to pressure from President Bush.
The first of the many lucrative paybacks he has enjoyed since leaving office, the 'peace mission' role is a case of deja vu all over again: massive amounts of money spent by Mr Blair for no return,(11) with hard-headed Palestinians already sceptical as Blair, on cue, trumpets his success. "He is creating illusions and false expectations and living in a fantasy world. That's a very dangerous thing to do", Dr Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian human rights campaigner, told reporter David Rose in Jerusalem [The Mail on Sunday 18/5/08]. A high-level Palestinian who complained to the British Consul-General last November along with several others, added: "We were all shocked that someone of his experience was not delivering. Ten months after he was assigned, I can't quote a single thing that has made a real difference."
It all sounds so familiar. Time and again Rose found "examples where the things delivered by Mr Blair seem not to match his rhetoric." But it was Palestinian and Israeli women in Tel Aviv who really nailed the opportunistic essence of Tony Blair.
With most of their husbands unemployed, they wanted to start a small joint clothing venture. To purchase a workshop which "could transform their families' lives", they needed just £10,000, a pittance. At the suggestion of the British Consul-General, they wrote to Blair last November. To their disgust he has not replied. "I'm shocked," said one of the women. "He's done nothing. Maybe the problem is that he only wants to help the big people, the people with connections."
As the British discovered to their great and ongoing cost, the Israelis and Palestinians have rapidly ascertained that Mr Blair has "nothing in him at all"; that he is a fantastical fraud who deals in smoke, mirrors, cant and hypocrisy, all the while looking after Number One. Although deluded, there is method in his madness. Even his friend Michael Levy finally saw through him. "I had also come to recognise," he concludes in his memoirs, "that for all his attractive qualities .... on some level, it seemed to me, Tony really was just in it for himself."
In the Middle East this translates into Mr Blair's inability to commit himself to his peace mission with the intensity required since he is far too busy exploiting his "connections" with "the big people" for massive financial gain. Apart from the near £5 million advance for his memoirs and a couple of 'consultancies' said to be worth around £4 million a year, there are obscenely lucrative speaking engagements. At the same time he his fronting campaigns for sport, global warming and, of course, his global inter-faith foundation. The roots of this last venture tell us all we need to know about his much vaunted faith.
With no core belief or principle and only the panacea of "change" and the narcissistic rock 'n' roll cult of youth to guide him, Blair has relied on a self-styled religiosity to rationalise the devastation and misery wrought by all his self-righteous zeal at home and abroad.
He had first turned to religion and intensive Bible reading for solace during the tragedy of his mother's five year battle with cancer and eventual death when he was 22. Other traumas also played their part. His father had already been robbed of his speech and completely incapacitated by a stroke when he was just ten, while his youngest sister was stricken with a form of infantile rheumatoid arthritis which required years of distressing treatment and hospitalisation.
Without the teaching Church to guide him the religious awakening occasioned by this background naturally gave rise to a shallow, emotional faith. This was compounded and exploited in later years by his friend Hans Küng, the infamous heretic and syncretist, during their little known téte-à-tétes at Downing Street. Hence the confusion signalled today in Mr Blair's well-thumbed copies of the Koran and Bible, both readily to hand depending on where he finds himself at the time. The lethal combination of sola scriptura and heretical advice which bred this absurd spiritual mélange also cultivated Pope Tony; a self-righteous soul who pontificates in isolation on sodomy, contraception, cloning, abortion and every other moral aberration without the need for Roman insight or adjudication.
Marriage to a faithful Catholic woman might have led him out of emotive religiosity, into the true religion and away from the likes of Küng. Tragically, he chose a wife who clearly lost her faith at a young age. The sort of woman who gives radical feminists an even worse name and who, by her own admission, cannot keep her mouth shut, Cherie Blair is a "Tablet Catholic" i.e. a Catholic who consistently denies what it is that makes her one, to wit: no Catholic at all.
For Matt Groening she is a gift from God, a cartoonist's dream and destined for star-billing with her husband in The O'Blairs. For the British faithful, on the other hand, Mrs Blair's decade in Downing Street was one long trial; a crushing scandal from start to finish. It was not only her insatiable greed and grasping but the fact that the media identified her as Catholic despite her constant dabbling in the occult (12), her regular denunciation of Catholic moral and doctrinal teachings (contraception, homosexuality, women priests etc.) and her lambasting of the Church (e.g. falsely informing one Muslim group that her "own religion" had failed women and "sadly" is "not in the forefront of women's rights").
The sordid tenor of the woman and her anti-faith was captured during a July 2003 Downing Street reception she hosted for the IPPF condom-peddling Lust for Life project. Gleefully waving condoms at photographers, her cavernous mouth gaped and guffawed; T.S. Elliot's "Apeneck Sweeney" in drag.
Her recent (£1million) memoirs are merely an extended caption for that grotesque photo. She informs the world and his wife that she not only slept with her husband on their first date but had two other boyfriends on the go at the same time; reveals not packing her "contraceptive equipment" on a trip to Balmoral and so accidentally conceiving her youngest son; and even admits that she has "never confessed to fornication" in the Confessional, indicating she enjoyed it too much "to be sorry for it."
All of that and so much more is poured out for public consumption by Mrs Blair "without a blush of sluttish shame," as one female commentator put it. That such a clueless, shameless woman is a barrister and a "recorder" (part-time judge) who aspires to be a full-time judge, is a sobering thought (13). But the point here is that together with Hans Küng and various Modernist clerics like Fr Michael Seed and Cardinal "Comic", Cherie was the primary "Catholic" influence on Mr Blair and the silent partner in his many sacrilegious Communions (not to mention her own). In his analysis of Mr Blair, Leo Abse writes:
[Blair] put aside the Protestant teaching of his youth, and began illicitly to join Cherie, a Roman Catholic, in taking communion.
For Catholics, the Eucharist is much more than a symbolic act. The worshipper literally eats the flesh of Christ and drinks His blood, and the sanctity of this occasion is in no way to be belittled by an interloper lacking the faith of the true believer.
Blair was ordered by the Vatican to desist. In bad temper at being denied his fusion in prayer with Cherie, he reluctantly submitted. But in a characteristic show of egocentricity, making the assumption that the Lord would be personally interested in his disqualification, he commented: "I wonder what Jesus would have made of it?"
Bishops and priests conspired in the Blairs' joint sacrilege for a long time, of course, until publicity forced Cardinal Hume's reluctant hand in respect of Mr Blair. They will pay an even greater price for their complicity at the hands of Divine justice than Mrs Blair. Yet if a liberal Jew like Leo Abse can appreciate the doctrine of the Real Presence and respect the injury caused to the Faith and faithful in this matter by "an interloper lacking the faith of the true believer", it was certainly not beyond Mr Blair to do likewise; to appreciate the gravity of the situation and abstain from receiving, regardless of his wife's sinful indifference. Yet in his usual arrogant, selfish, deceitful fashion, he carried on regardless, displaying that routine bewilderment and annoyance at being rebuked when the wrong-doing finally caught up with him.
However, just as he rode out his political scandals and usually got his way in the end, Mr Blair has now gained official approval (including Benedict's) without yielding one single immoral inch. In-between racing around the world amassing a substantial private fortune on the back of contacts and insider knowledge gained while running Britain into the ground, he graciously found time to allow the Cardinal to receive him into the Church. And since Blair's contempt for the traditional political and social institutions which define Britain as a nation dovetails with Murphy O'Connor's disregard for the truths and traditions which define the Church [CO passim], His Eminence facilitated the 'conversion' without the least thought of the 'convert' repudiating his false views and legislative war on human life and Catholic sexual morality. As a result, Mr Blair is once more "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" [1 Cor. 11:27]: receiving the Eucharist unbowed and unrepentant.
Last month, in stark contrast to this negligence and complicity, Archbishop Naumann of Kansas demanded that the pro-abort Governor of Kansas "refrain from presenting herself for reception of the Eucharist until she had acknowledged the error of her past positions, made a worthy sacramental confession and taken the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion". Furthermore, the Archbishop made the directive public by explaining his actions in his archdiocesan newspaper, where he stated:
The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: 'The church's teaching on abortion is optional!' I reissue my request of the faithful of the archdiocese to pray for Governor Sebelius. I hope that my request of the governor, not to present herself for holy Communion, will provoke her to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions. At the same time, I pray this pastoral action on my part will help alert other Catholics to the moral gravity of participating in and/or cooperating with the performance of abortions.
Considering the cataclysmic personal and social damage wrought by all his anti-life laws and policies, Mr Blair should have been held to public account in the same manner for exactly the same reasons (14). Instead, Cardinal "Comic" trotted him out in Westminster Cathedral to appeal for a more elastic ("inclusive") religion and promote the sort of false ecumenism "Comic" himself has championed for several decades as chief compromiser in Anglican-Catholic 'dialogue'.
The scandalised faithful were still reeling from the sight of an unrepentant, serially sacrilegious Blair let loose in this principal house of God when the new star 'convert' gave a rebellious portent of things to come. The very next day, adding salt to open wounds, he mocked the Church by moving seamlessly from the role of "Cardinal's Guest Speaker" to that of "Sodomites' Guest of Honour" at a fund-raiser for the viciously anti-Catholic Stonewall.
Alien in our midst
Anyone initially inclined to give Mr Blair the benefit of the doubt and who has read this far should now see that Mr Blair's non-conversion was characteristically opportunistic and self-centred. It was never about Truth. It was always about Tony.
True to form, he is cynically using the Church to legitimise his Tony Blair Faith Foundation which he pushed at Westminster Cathedral. This global inter-faith venture is clearly inspired by the syncretic quest of his mentor Hans Küng, who has long laboured to popularise his Global Ethic: a subjective value system he wishes to replace objective Catholic doctrine and morality as the basis of peaceful co-existence between all peoples and religions.(15)
For Küng, the convenient "conversion" of his disciple is a real coup. He now has a high-profile "Catholic" lending weight to a foundation which will both complement and further the anti-Catholic agenda of his own Global Ethic Foundation.
And Blair wins too, since his Faith Foundation is the launching pad for his third and latest persona. After morphing from the Great Reformer into the International Statesman and Warrior, he now assumes the role of Religious Ambassador for Peace and Harmony. Küng has pushed his cause, of course, promoting Blair as "an ethical person with charisma [who] could become a worker for peace, maybe not in the Middle East but certainly in Africa."
Being received into the Church also affords Mr Blair that extra cachet to help bolster his millions. It surely did no harm to the sealing of his lecture deal with Yale University last March, less than 3 months after the "conversion", which will see him teach a course on "how religious values can be channelled toward reconciliation rather than polarisation", as the Yale president explained. In the process, Blair will reportedly pocket at least another £100,000 (plus a generous expense account).
The most excruciating aspect, though, is that he will now commence his Yale lecture series in September as an alleged "Catholic": as far as the media and the general public are concerned, this alien in our midst is now one of us. And we should keep the oxygen handy because it could get immeasurably worse. For early on in his "conversion" negotiations, Mr Blair enquired about the prospect of becoming a deacon!
The Catholic sanctuary as his final stage? Never underestimate Mr Blair's ability to come up trumps. We might yet see Deacon Tony Blair preaching from the Westminster pulpit as Cardinal "Comic" Murphy O'Connor beams proudly from the presider's chair: a sacrilegious consummation, marrying up the political Liberal fingered for sleaze with the clerical Modernist fingered for complicity in sexual abuse. Voilà! - "Comic" O'Blair: the composite Cartoon Convert from Hell.
Yet deaconhood can wait. For now, Mr Blair is banking his millions, expanding his real estate empire (six properties worth around £10million at last count) and preparing to assume the political persona he has most coveted: President of the European Union, for which post Nicolas Sarkozy is lobbying on his behalf. Since the new constitution (aka Lisbon Treaty) empowers the new President to "drive forward" the huge reach and control exercised by this godless monolith, a Blair presidency would replicate the British catastrophe in double-quick time. The horrors already synonymous with the EU and Brussels - socio-political decay, nihilism, epic levels of financial waste, sleaze, cronyism and incompetence, fascistic attacks on life, personal freedom and national sovereignty - would soon spiral to undreamt of levels under grinning President Blair.
Rather than sit helplessly as all these nightmarish scenarios relentlessly unfold, we must ever remind ourselves that to suffer with Christ the blows of our enemies, both lay and clerical, while praying all the while for their genuine conversion, is the bitter beatitude of Catholics. We don't need to like phoney Tony or the ghastly Cherie or the hireling "Comic" in order to love them by desiring their eternal salvation. That these ill-fated souls are due our firm and constant prayers, therefore, goes without saying.
"Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High!" the Angel of Peace urged the children of Fatima. In the end, this essay is nothing if not an incentive to fulfil that heavenly demand. So let us determine to make the Five First Saturdays of Reparation as requested by Our Blessed Mother, and to say fervently and often this prayer given by the Angel to the little Fatima seers to help atone for so many offences committed daily against Christ in the Blessed Sacrament:
"O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He Himself is offended, and through the infinite merits of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners."
(1) Mr Morgan would know. As editor of the Labour-supporting Mirror, he himself had unlimited access to Mr Blair. In ten years, they had 22 lunches, six dinners, six inteviews, 24 one-to-one chats over tea and biscuits, and numerous phone conversations. Mr Campbell also seemed to phone him daily.
(2) Under Civil Service rules, Price was obliged to submit his manuscript for Government clearance. Horrified by what people would think, Downing Street actually changed the wording of this passage to: "... apparently, News International are under the impression we won't be making any changes without consulting them." However, copies of deleted sections of his work were circulated around No.10 and subsequently leaked, after which Downing Street launched a futile attempt to smear Price as a liar and fantasist - precisely the kind of dirty trick he exposed in his book!
(3) As a measure of the difference, the New Labour-Murdoch nexus was symbolically made flesh at a central London church on 22 July 2006, when the Prime Minister, most of his Cabinet, many of his spin doctors and pollsters together with a large component of the Sky conglomerate, attended the wedding of Sky's political commentator, Andrew Boulton, and Blair's former 'gatekeeper' Anji Hunter. The new, incestuous elite. Commented one reporter: "It is no exaggeration to say that no gathering as powerful had been seen in a single church since the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, nearly nine years ago."
(4) Although not germane to Craig's particular study, perhaps most indicative of all was the decision to sell more than half the country's gold reserves over three years between 1999 and 2002, and buy euros, dollars and yen with the proceeds. The moment the Treasury, under Gordon Brown, announced its intention, the price of gold fell sharply to a 20-year low, which saw the bullion sold at rock-bottom prices. As gold inevitably soared again, this decision alone has ultimately cost Britain £4 billion (double the loss suffered by the Bank of England on Black Wednesday under John Major, which ruined the Tories reputation for economic competence).
(5) Little known yet pervasive, Common Purpose is a cross-Party, EU/Marxist, social engineering network operating at every level of both the public and private sectors. See online video presentation at http://vodpod.com/watch/257634-no-eu-common-purpose-government-infiltrators-9-15-07-brian-gerrish-med-res
(6) Despite Blair's best efforts to retain him, Mandelson was eventually pressured out of the inner sanctum in disgrace after repeated lies and sleaze saw him twice evicted from the Cabinet. He was handed a lucrative EU post as recompense.
(7) In the 1980s, Mr Blair was personally committed to dumping the nuclear deterrent, withdrawing from the EU, keeping the pound, opposing U.S. sponsored "terrorism", renationalising the utilities, and allowing unions the unrestricted right to strike. He has done a U-turn on all these issues, morphing from an anti-US and anti-European CND peace marcher into a pro-American, free-market Europhile war leader.
(8) Typical of Blair's renowned vanity is the anecdote related by Leo Abse in his book: "One of his aides once quipped that when he is travelling in a car, the item that gets most used is the passenger's vanity mirror."
(9) Even the non-confrontational, consensus-seeking Bambi persona is spurious, going by his well documented rants and filthy mouth e.g. Mr Blair had to persuade Alastair Campbell to remove from his diaries the F-words and C-words which punctuated Blair's Downing Street tantrums. [Daily Mail, 28/5/07]
(10) In fact, he went to war on the back of dossiers he knew to be largely plagiarised, hyped up or even invented. In addition, according to the personal journal of the late Robin Cook, a cabinet minister who resigned in protest against the war, Mr Blair admitted to him on the eve of the war that he did not believe that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction of the kind that could strike at British cities or strategic targets. In which case (and Cook's testimony was not denied by Downing Street) his reasons for going to war were based on a lie - a charge not only wholly in keeping with his mendacious character but supported by the fact that he readily changed tack and started using Saddam's brutal rule as justification for the war instead.
(11) Much of the extravagant cost of keeping Mr Blair and his entourage of six bodyguards and offsiders during their visits to Jerusalem is borne by the British taxpayer, whose contribution towards the luxury accommodation, airfares, food, car rentals, security etc. etc., already totals £400,000. The annual bill for the little used Jerusalem office rooms alone is about £700,000.
(12) See "Satan in the Public Square", CO, March 2004.
(13) At least a former senior judge and one of the most respected legal figures in the country, Gerald Butler, QC, spoke out about Mrs Blair's memoirs, calling for her resignation: "What she has done is not appropriate for somebody who sits as a recorder. I don't think she should continue to sit as a recorder. If she wants to tread this path of making money by outrageous comments that is up to her, but I don't think this is a job for a judge. It shows a complete lack of any kind of decency. It is the kind of conduct which demeans the legal profession. It is altogether disgraceful but nothing less than I would expect from her. I would have thought there is no chance of her becoming a senior judge." Oremus!
(14) For her part, the dissident Mrs Blair, a public figure in her own right, should also be requested to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until such time as she unequivocally submits to all the moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church. Instead, the hierarchy continues to turn a blind eye. The Cardinal's press secretary would not return calls about Mrs Blair's latest scandalous statement that contraception was "really important for women" [Good Morning Television, 20/5/08]. While a spokesman for the Bishops Conference declined to comment, saying it would not be "appropriate"!
(15) See "The Global Ethic: From Golden Rule to Common Ground", CO, Dec. 1997; and "The Global Ethic Analyzed", CO, Jan. 1998.