Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Warmonger at large (and getting ever richer) remains a menace

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AS though the prospect of the British government loyally tagging along with Washington was not worrying enough, worse news has come this week. It came in yesterday's Independent:

"David Cameron is secretly receiving political advice on foreign affairs from Tony Blair – most recently on how to resolve the international deadlock over Palestinian statehood, The Independent has learnt.

Mr Cameron has buried party political loyalties and privately invited the former Labour Prime Minister to Chequers to discuss the impasse, according to Foreign Office sources.

The two men have since stayed in regular touch on the issue, as the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, prepares to submit a formal application to the United Nations for membership this week. The Chequers meeting was set up at the request of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton".

This comes as Palestinian diplomat Nabil Shaath has observed that Blair, supposed "peace envoy" for the quartet (UN, EU, Russia and the US), sounds more like an Israeli government representative sometimes.

The former Labour prime minister who lied to get Britain into war on Iraq, has apparently been as unfazed by discovery of his lucrative deals with Colonel Gaddafi as he was by the findings of Iraq war inquiries. Exulting in the NATO-backed Libyan rebellion he has said similar interventions could be tried in Syria (incidentally another regime with which he was happy to expand business) and Iran.

He has also apparently tried telling the Palestinians they should ditch their bid for statehood and recognition in favour of entering yet more fruitless negotiations with Israel. Palestine president Mahmoud Abbas says there need be no contradiction between applying for recognition and negotiating. What is evident is that the kind of "negotiations" Israeli prime minister Netanyahu - and former British prime minister Tony Blair - are proposing, would depend on the Palestinians dropping their demands before they even go in to negotiate.

Many Palestinians, particularly in the Diaspora, have voiced doubts about the statehood and recognition strategem. But there have been big demonstrations in the West Bank in support of the move, while in Gaza, Hamas has forbade demonstrations for -or against. If we had any doubt about our position and responsibility we should only look at the expected US veto and the Republicans and right-wing Zionists screaming that Obama is "selling out Israel" by not going further.

As for Britain, the Independent says:
'The UK Government is agonising over how it should respond. One Whitehall source admitted: "They can't even decide what to do within the Foreign Office." Mr Blair is trying to fashion a united response to the Palestinians' move. The task is daunting, with Israel and the US instinctively hostile to the application, without the Palestinians also agreeing to recognise a Jewish state.'

(This is typical of media talk befogging issues. The PLO long ago recognised Israel, and Hamas has indicated that it would in effect do so in entering talks. But what the Israeli government and its backers are demanding is not just ordinary diplomatic or de facto recognition, but de jure recognition of the legitimacy of Israel as a "Jewish state" - in other words one in which Jews as an ethnicity or religious group have primacy, and others are at best tolerated. And that rules out the Palestinian right of return while upholding Israel's Law of Return to guarantee Jewish supremacy. And this along with Israeli leaders insisting they have the right to settle anywhere in Palestine.)

'The Foreign Secretary William Hague arrived in New York yesterday, where he was due to meet Mr Blair at Mr Cameron's behest for further talks on the Palestinian situation. Mr Cameron has also been anxious to involve the Liberal Democrats, who have traditionally been more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, in all discussions. "We need to approach this issue, with all its sensitivities, with a single Coalition voice," said one government source. Insiders say that Mr Blair and Mr Cameron, who held their Chequers meeting in mid-July, have a warm and respectful relationship, although their conversations are limited to international issues, also including Libya and other uprisings in North Africa.

There has been concern that Lib Dems' readiness to take up Palestinian rights has gone the way of other good things with their discovery of the delights of government.

Looking at the Lib Dems' website I could not find any statement or conference resolutions about Palestine, though apparently Simon Hughes has said they back the Palestinian bids for recognition and statehood.

Looking elsewhere, mind, neither the Palestine Solidarity Campaign nor the Stop the War Coalition seem to be campaigning clearly to support the Palestinian move or demand the British government votes for Palestinian recognition. Socialist Worker meanwhile seems keener on telling the Palestinians what they already know about the shortcomings of Abbas and the UN, rather than focussing on the responsibility of the British labour movement to put an end to the Tony B.Liar legacy.

During the Bosnian war the SWP refused to oppose the arms embargo or support Workers Aid, in effect ending up with Douglas Hurd's position against supposedly "creating a level kiling field", albeit admonishing Bosnians on the need for "workers unity". On the Iraq war on the other hand SWPers in Stop the War opposed calls for support for secular and democratic forces in Iraq, saying this would mean choosing allies and "telling Iraqis what to do". But now on Palestine apparently it is OK for some on the Left to proffer advice while witholding support, (in SW's case, advice to wait for the revolution in Egypt) , oblivious that we end up letting our own government, US Republicans, Zionists and Tony Blair get away with their opposition.

Who says Crime does not Pay?

ONE thing the Stop the War Coalition is doing usefully is keeping a watch on Tony Blair and his vast fortunes. Here's one extract from an article posted on its website

'However, it is Blair's post-PM activities that have made him a serious financial heavyweight, and it has been estimated that he has earned at least £15m since leaving Number 10.

He is a senior advisor at investment bank JP Morgan (salary estimates range between £500,000 and £2.5m) and advises the Swiss insurance firm Zurich Financial Services on climate change issues for a reputed £1m a year, not to mention his consulting role with luxury goods firm LVMH. And he was said to have been paid an estimated £1m for writing a report for the government of Kuwait on the future of the oil-rich state.

Indeed, such is the demand for his advisory services that he has set up a commercial consultancy firm, Tony Blair Associates, which has banked at least £2m advising foreign countries and businesses.

Although still dogged by certain decisions made when PM, such as his unpopular wars, Blair is cashing in on his popularity and has received an estimated £5m for his memoirs, although he has vowed to give the money to charity with the Royal British Legion the beneficiary.

The royalties from sales – autobiographies by former PMs Margaret Thatcher and John Major sold around 500,000 and 200,000 copies respectively - are likely to earn millions more for the charity.

And for those that couldn't wait for the memoirs to be published, Blair has been active on the after-dinner speech circuit. Signed to the Washington Speakers Bureau for £500,000, Blair typically commands up to $250,000 for a 90-minute speech.

He is widely believed to be the highest paid speaker – commanding even more than former US President Bill Clinton – and has reportedly earned over £5m for his speaking engagements. Last year he earned almost £400,000 for two half-hour speeches in the Philippines.

On top of this, Blair receives £84,000 of taxpayers' money to run a private office, and he is also entitled to draw a pension of £63,468.

Most recently, the former PM named as the 2010 recipient of the annual Liberty Award in the US - including a £67,000 cash prize.

Blair's vast property portfolio

Finally, Blair, who is married to Cherie Booth QC, the barrister daughter of actor Tony Booth, also boasts an enviable property portfolio.

Most recently, the Blairs paid £1m for a house for a three-bedroom maisonette in a Georgian townhouse in central London for their daughter. It becomes the eighth home in the Blairs' seemingly ever-expanding portfolio.

It was bought mortgage-free in the names of Mrs Blair and her 22-year-old daughter Kathryn, Land Registry documents revealed in August 2010. Their three eldest children now each have a £1m home in central London, all bought with substantial help from their parents.

Kathryn and her older brothers Euan, 26, and Nicky, 24, all live within striking distance of their parents' £3.7m mansion in Connaught Square.

The Blairs have amassed property worth £15m since Mr Blair entered Downing Street in 1997. Mrs Blair is understood to have paid for the two-storey property for Miss Blair, who until recently studied European law in Strasbourg, where she had a scholarship. She previously studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. It follows the purchase of a £1.3m Grade II-listed townhouse for Euan and a £1.13m 'lad's pad' for Nicky.

Since leaving Downing Street in 2007, Mr Blair is estimated to have made £25m from lectures and lucrative consultancy deals. Claims that he has earned up to £60m have been dismissed by his office as 'simply ludicrous'.

The true figure for Mr Blair's wealth is impossible to pin down. He has set up a complicated web of companies through which he channels his earnings without having to declare them publicly.

See also:


Israelis and Palestinians celebrate Palestinian independence together in Beit Jala, Thur., Sept 22, 18:00
Thur., Sept 22, 18:00
Israelis and Palestinians celebrate Palestinian independence together at the Orthodox Club, Beit Jala, West Bank, organized on the Israeli side by the Combatants for Peace and Solidarity movements. Transportation from Tel Aviv: Arlozorov Train Station 16:00, Tel Aviv - Rakevet Merkaz (Arlozorov Train station) 16:00 Tel Aviv - Rakevet Merkaz (Arlozorov Train station), Jerusalem - Gan Hapaamon 17:00, Haifa and Beer Sheva: upon demand.

We will shortly take a look at the different ways the Israeli peaceniks and the IDF are mobilising for the situation following the UN vote.

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