Some scathing comments following Tony Blairs interview with Vanity Fair which was intended to defend his legacy against recent criticism.
Claiming his record in Iraq meant his opinions should be taken more seriously was bound to attract a backlash….
But Blair also insisted that his business dealings with dubious governments round the world have not been as lucrative as people think . In the interview he also cites controversial national security adviser Henry Kissinger as a role model.
It also appears that Blair has refused to rule out working for President Putin in the future. When asked by Vanity Fair’s veteran correspondent if there was anyone he would not work for, such as the Russian leader, Blair smiled and switched the topic to Kazakhstan. Later in the interview he said: “I’m not holding my breath for the call from Putin.” Asked again what he would do if Putin called, he said: “It won’t come, so let me not either praise or insult.”
The Guardian reports: There has been a lot of speculation about Blair’s wealth. Earlier this year, he laughed off reports he was worth £100m and said it was less than £20m. The Vanity Fair interview – the January issue but which went on sale in the US on Thursday – further refines that.
One of his staff – described as a “Blair spokesperson” – said his net worth is “roughly equal to what he has given away”, which Vanity Fair estimated at £10m.
But the figure does not appear to include Blair’s portfolio of houses, which include a mansion in Buckinghamshire and six homes in London, which estimates put at much more than £10m.
Asked about Iraq, the most divisive issue of his premiership, Blair expresses resentment at the damage done to his reputation. “People say: ‘Why should you listen to him?’ because of Iraq. And I keep saying: ‘That’s why you should listen to me,’” he says.
“Because I’ve been through this in government, and since leaving office I’ve been studying it the whole time. One thing that is quite interesting to me is how poor western governments are at the moment – and I don’t exempt mine from this– how poor they are at understanding what’s going on in the world.”
His view of the world is more sophisticated now, he adds. “I mean, I find my own understanding of the Middle East, but also further afield, just so much more sophisticated and deep [now] than the understanding I had in government, even with all that infrastructure – the intelligence services and foreign office and so on.”
Asked about the criticism he faces, particularly in Britain, Blair says it is overstated. “First of all, you know, I actually did win three elections, not lose them. I won the last election with a majority, even after Iraq.
According to the Express: Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter was scathing about Mr Blair in an editorial column in the magazine.
He wrote: “Blair may be one of the wealthier former prime ministers in British history; he’s certainly one of the least popular.”
He added: “Tony and his wife, Cherie, are living very well – though not, given his schedule, very often living well together. Lord only knows how that marriage functions.”
Last night, Tory MP Charlie Elphicke said: “This is an appalling and delusional interview.
“He needs to remember that Vladimir Putin is no friend of Britain.
“And the mess that we are facing in Iraq was partly created by Tony Blair and it is about time he took responsibility for it.”