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Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair

Just when you thought it was safe to venture out, Frankenstein returns – at least its political equivalent in the shape of Tony Blair, Britain’s former prime minister and poster child for the venality, corruption, and opportunism of Western liberalism in our time.

Blair’s decision to intervene in the ongoing political crisis that has engulfed the UK over Brexit can only be described as offensive. His call to arms, urging the British people to “rise up against Brexit”, which he issued from that renowned fortress of people power, Bloomberg headquarters in the City of London, will only harden support for it given the fact that Blair’s time in office only helped pave the way for it.

The man is a deluded fool if he really thinks that he has the credibility or clout to make any such intervention in frontline politics anything other than a car crash. With the anniversary of the start of the 2003 war in Iraq upon us next month, bringing with it the memory of the role that Blair played in the deaths of up to one million people, along with the destabilization of the region and an explosion of terrorism that has wrought so much carnage in the years since, the only place that Blair should be giving any speech nowadays is from the dock at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where his presence is long overdue.

Tony Blair, along with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, exemplifies everything rotten and depraved about liberal democracy. Whether it be their attachment to the interests of Wall Street and City of London, the abandonment of the poor and working class in the interests of the politics of identity, the worshipping at the altar of the free market and neoliberalism, not forgetting the slavish devotion to Western imperialism under the rubric of democracy and human rights – these people have turned the world upside down and enriched themselves and their cronies beyond measure in the process.

Abhoring everything that Brexit represents, the explosion of right wing populism, driven by anti-migrant bigotry, nativism, and ultra nationalism fuelling it, does not militate against understanding how it fed off the collapse of centre ground liberal politics and the hollowing out of social democracy that took place under Blair’s leadership. Likewise when it comes to Trump and the venality of Obama’s leadership in the US.

The global financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008, and whose impact we are still dealing with almost a decade later, was a direct result of the neoliberal policies embraced by Blair and Bill Clinton throughout the 1990s – policies that were followed by the successive governments that followed them. The point is that the cynicism and anger towards the political class in both countries did not occur overnight. It built up over years, to the point where a referendum on Britain’s continuing membership of the EU provided an opportunity for those who’d suffered most under those neoliberal policies to vent their disdain for the status quo at the ballot box.

A similar set of circumstances underlay Donald Trump’s election to the White House on the other side of the Atlantic. Do any of his impassioned liberal detractors every take a moment to ask themselves why a real estate mogul and reality TV star with no political experience was able to best such experienced national politicians such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz to win the Republican Party nomination in 2016, and then go on to defeat Hillary Clinton for the presidency later in the same year?

The answer is of course that these are politicians whose records are a testament to long years of service to a Washington machine that is loathed by millions of Americans.

Not until the political establishments in both the UK and US finally accept their responsibility for the rejection of everything they represent will there be an end to the political and social polarization that is the new normal in both countries. In this respect they remain stuck in the past, holding onto a belief in the verities of the free market, in NATO and Western exceptionalism. In this regard they are akin to those Japanese soldiers who failed to emerge from the jungles and foxholes in which they served during World War II until over a decade after the war ended.

Returning to Tony Blair, this is a man who not satisfied with helping to set the world on fire thereafter swanned off into a sunset of unparalleled riches and wealth, the wages of sin he’s received in return for services rendered to the some of the most corrupt and unsavoury governments, corporations, and causes in existence. His every public appearance and utterance is an insult to the millions of men, women, and children in Iraq who were  slaughtered as a result of the brutal and illegal imperialist war he unleashed in conjunction with Washington in 2003.

It reminds us that their cry for justice from the grave is one that is yet to be heard.

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John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

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