Whilst this week it looks like the Coalition government will steamroller massive self-enriching changes through Parliament which will turn the NHS into a free-for-all for the private industry mates (more here) of David Cameron and Andrew Lansley, one could choose to reach the conclusion that all this is the logical conclusion of the outside-the-box thinking which bedevilled – or, perhaps some would argue, constructively accompanied, depending on your point of view – the New Labour years of Tony Blair.
It does seem that after getting us all used to the need to create partnerships between public and private, and engineer in the public domain a perception that profit is a necessary driver for the provision of the state’s services, what’s happening in this second leg of the Coalition government’s dismantling of the UK and its institutions is nothing more nor less than a coherent continuation of everything Mr Blair initiated. At the time, I guess, many of us trusted him – trusted him not to use against us what could so easily have become a double-edged sword; and in ways which could have harmed us far more easily than helped us or made proper progress in what we now see, in retrospect, as a socialism by stealth – that socialism, I mean, which dared not speak its name for fear of instant media retribution.
So it is that we have been sold the idea that Mr Blair spent his time cosying up to Mr Murdoch’s media empire because he felt obliged to do everything he (that is to say, Blair) could do to ensure Labour got into and retained the power it had been without for such a long time.
And that, on his part, in the light of such a perception, was a more than honourable act of self-negation which until today I was prepared to sustain.
Until today, that is. Here, then, from last night’s Telegraph:
Tony Blair is godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s young children, it has emerged in an interview with the media tycoon’s wife Wendi.
The former prime minister was reportedly present in March last year when Murdoch’s two daughters by his third wife were baptised on the banks of the Jordan.
The information was not made public and its disclosure in an interview with Mrs Murdoch in Vogue will prove highly embarrassing for Mr Blair.
Whilst Blair is not so forthcoming, Murdoch’s media company confirms the following:
Last night, Mr Blair’s spokesman refused to comment, but a News Corp source confirmed that Mr Blair was godfather to Grace, as was Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son.
Thus the Mediterraneanisation of Britain (if you’ll excuse the racist terminology) continues apace. If before yesterday’s news we felt that politics was more important than the personal, Mr Blair has demonstrated most clearly that the personal is now more important than politics.
And this is how “heirs to Blair” takes on a profoundly different and far more worrying meaning.
Representative democracy is no longer a relationship between voters and those temporarily in charge. Rather, far more obviously, it is becoming clear that even in supposedly technocratic body politics such as the British, the vote of confidence deposited in our politicians is used and abused for utterly private benefit.
Blair’s godfathership of Murdoch’s daughter is no different in principle from David Cameron and Andrew Lansley’s dismantling of the NHS in direct and purposeful benefit of business cronies. Both see the voters’ devolvement of power through our precious and sacred ballot box to supposedly public servants as a blank cheque to make any changes necessary in the way the state and private business interact.
And whilst I despise what the Coalition are doing, and cannot hope for a change in their behaviours, I had expected far more of Mr Blair – had even arrived at the firm conclusion that whatever he had done and did was out of a true love for and understanding of the long-term needs of the Party.
Not any more. Not after this.
Heirs to Blair? It’s practically Francis Ford Coppola land …