Tony Blair bestrides the globe while the UK goes “la la la – not listening”

It seems that shortly after attending the Remembrance Sunday parade at London’s Cenotaph, former Prime Minister Tony Blair hopped on a plane for The Gambia. On Tuesday, he popped up there to meet the country’s President, Adama Barrow at his office (above) and then have dinner with him at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa in Serrekunda. (A night in the Presidential suite there would set you back £1870). Globe-trotting Tony Blair also met Mr Barrow back in April, shortly after the latter had been elected President, replacing the tyrannical Yayha Jammeh.

Tony Blair has recently had many high level meetings with African leaders. Back in July he was in Kaduna, Nigeria and Togo. He’s been to Ghana. This month he was also in Cote d’Ivoire. There he met the Energy Minister, the Education Minister and the Prime Minister.

Given that Tony Blair ceased to be the UK Prime Minister ten years ago, one wonders why the man has all this high level access across the globe.

It all comes under the banner of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Under the heading “Making globalisation work for the many”, the institute describes its aims as follows:

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change aims to help make globalisation work for the many, not the few. We do this by helping countries, their people, and their governments address some of the most difficult challenges in the world today.

Reading the website, its seems the institute’s priority is technology.

At its launch in March, the Guardian said this about the Institute:

Blair is bringing his post-premiership empire, including 200 staff, largely under one roof, focusing on a not-for-profit basis on re-energising the centre ground, fighting religious extremism, African governance and Middle East policy. Around 25 staff will be deployed to the new Renewing the Centre policy work, headed by Yascha Mounk, a German-born Harvard academic. The platform will be open to western politicians and thinkers from different liberal democratic or progressive traditions. He has injected £10m into the enterprise.

200 staff! Indeed, there are several jobs up for grabs at the moment there. You could be an “Executive Assistant to Heads of Effective Governance/ Renewing the centre & General Pillar Support“. Or you could earn £48,000 as “Governance Advisor, Ministry of Finance (Liberia and Sierra Leone)” in Monrovia, Liberia.

It seems that our old mate Jim Murphy is working for Tony Blair. For example, Jim Murphy visited The Gambia in June this year, with a group of very bright and young (looking) think tankers. It seems that one of the Institute’s specialisations is to help developing governments in Africa, such as Mr Barrow’s in The Gambia.

So this institute is a very large concern. Think tanking on steroids. On the back of it, Tony Blair bestrides the globe as a great statesman.

The odd thing is that virtually no one back in the UK takes much notice of all this. Indeed, where Tony Blair is concerned, most of us jam our fingers in our ears and hum “Hey Jude”.

UPDATE 19/1/17: You can see a report of Tony Blair’s visit, and an interview with him, here on Gambian Television at 01:30:

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.

  • Richard Easter 18th Nov '17 - 8:51pm

    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.

  • Your report is less thorough than it might be. Last week, from Luton, Blair visited Cote d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Burkina Faso (probably) and Senegal, returning to Luton yesterday. He did so aboard one of the two executive jets owned by the Egyptian Sawiris family, accompanied by Naguib Sawiris, who was instrumental in Morsi’s overthrow, and is close to the Egyptian government, which Blair advises. Naguib is a major shareholder in Endeavour Mining, which owns low-cost gold mines in Burkina Faso – his vist was almost certainly connected with this. Sawiris is also heavily into construction, globally. He has hosted Blair on similar trips earlier this year, and before that. As has Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire currently sought by the Chinese government for financial irregularities, but shielded from immediate harm by the US government.

    It’s not JUST a thinktank…further details for the 30 months preceding this link:

  • David Lowrence 19th Nov '17 - 8:47am

    “And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.”

    None of whom ever achieved a majority.

  • Blair is trying to help people and he is spending his own money (presumably from lucrative lectures) doing it.
    Surely any self respecting liberal would give him credit rather than the previous trolls’ comments?

  • David Evershed 19th Nov '17 - 10:44am

    If he is trying to improve the governance of African and other dictator countries then he is doing the one thing that could improve the lives of billions of starving people – which aid could never do.

  • Christopher Haigh 19th Nov '17 - 12:56pm

    Well done to Tony Blair. He is addressing contemporary world problems directly.

  • Brian D
    “Blair is trying to help people and he is spending his own money (presumably from lucrative lectures) doing it.”
    Lets hope he does a little better than in central Asia

  • Little Jackie Paper 19th Nov '17 - 11:58pm

    Sorry if I’m being dim here Mr Walter, I’m not sure I understand this.

    Are you saying that someone is doing something wrong here? Or that there’s some sort of newsworthy story that no one is talking about? Or that I should be indignant about something here?

    Don’t get me wrong here, think tanks all perhaps do get a bit underscrutinised? But has this particular one done something worse (or better)?

    I’m just not sure what you point is.

  • Blair achieved something that those on the left never will – a working majority- and they hate him for it

  • The Institute (no longer a registered charity) will be glad to see how many LibDems are happy to accept Blair’s version of events without question. Should they develop critical faculties, however, they may care (1) to itemise Blair’s public speaking events for, say the last year, and offer an account of how these might pay for the maintenance of at least 200 staff here and abroad. And (2) to give an account of how Blair’s heartwarming involvement has actually improved governance in, say Kenya (two rigged elections), Rwanda (Kagame extends term of office indefinitely), Togo….etc.

  • Ed Shepherd 20th Nov '17 - 7:20pm

    A man does a terrible thing through malice or foolishness or some combination of both. He tries to make amends by trying to bring peace and development to troubled places. But there is ego involved and strong beliefs and too much money can be a problem. Who knows what it all means? Tony Blair is a very difficult person to comprehend and to read.

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