Sunday, March 04, 2007

Blair's retirement plan.

Seems Tony Blair is busy schmoozing his billionaire buddies ready for when he leaves office.

Throughout his time as PM he has seemed much happier in the company of the very rich, business people and celebrities. In the beginning he did flirt with the whole 'Cool Britannia' hype, inviting Oasis's Noel Gallagher over to no 10 for drinks. These days Blair is happier holidaying with Cliff Richard or the Bee Gees.

The Sunday Times reports that :

TONY BLAIR is wooing some of America’s biggest billionaires with a Downing Street reception during his final days in power...
Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, regarded as one of London’s most influential political hostesses, has arranged the select gathering. At least seven billionaires with a combined worth of more than £25 billion are on the guest list.

Among those invited are Ronald Burkle, the financier and grocery retailer who gave Clinton a multi-million-dollar post as adviser to a private equity fund. The event will offer a key networking opportunity for Blair as he prepares for life after government.

Invitations have been discreetly circulated among the super-rich in New York society in recent weeks. If wealthy benefactors are willing to donate at least $25,000 (£13,000) to the Tate gallery, they are automatically invited to meet Tony and Cherie Blair in Downing Street.

Organisers insist the centrepiece of the fundraising drive is a dinner in New York, which the Blair's will not attend. The trip to Downing Street is the “icing on the cake”. The event is being arranged by American Patrons of Tate, which is chaired by Rothschild and raises money for the Tate.

It is thought to be the first time that the opportunity to meet a serving prime minister in Downing Street has been offered in return for payment to a fund-raising drive.

Apparently Blair is doing this out of the goodness of his heart, to help Britain , and nothing to do with squeezing a bit more out of his position to ensure a nice comfy career when he leaves:

Lady de Rothschild said the Blair reception was intended to help develop Britain’s cultural heritage and it was generous of the prime minister to participate. “Tony Blair doesn’t need this to network,” she said. “It’s about Britain, not about Tony Blair.”

I think this quote sums it up :

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP, said: “This might be for a good cause, but selling access is ingrained into this prime minister, as is his obsession with wealth and celebrity. It’s a long way from the Red Flag.”

Of course he may end up being seen in the US as more Nixon than Clinton .