Long life

The profitable delusion shared by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair

What they've gained in wealth, they've lost in credibility. And they've gained a lot of wealth

5 July 2014

9:00 AM

5 July 2014

9:00 AM

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton must be very happy about how they have fared since leaving political office, for each has since become enormously rich. Tony Blair may well be the richest British prime minister since the 14th Earl of Derby in the 19th century, and Bill Clinton is among the ten richest American presidents ever (richer even, it is said, than President Kennedy) — not bad for the child of a junior tax inspector in Edinburgh and for one from a poor and dysfunctional family in Hope, Arkansas. But to temper our envy we may note that what they have gained in wealth they have been losing in reputation.

This is especially true of Blair, whose permatan, chartered private jet, and ‘good body’ so creepily admired by Wendi Deng would make him impossible to take seriously even if he hadn’t messed up over Iraq. And the sense that he is some kind of alien is strengthened by his consultancy deals with such countries as Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Abu Dhabi. He may now be worth some £70 million, but at the cost of losing all credibility as an elder statesman of the British Labour party.

Although Blair can astonishingly earn as much as £250,000 a time for private speeches and appearances, his consultancies provide far the greatest part of his income. Clinton, on the other hand, has made his fortune almost entirely from speech-making. The Washington Post reports that for 542 speeches made around the world between January 2001 and January 2013 Clinton has been paid $104.9 million (about £62 million). Though anyone would obviously rather hear a speech by Clinton than one by Blair, it seems incredible that even the great charmer himself should be in perpetual demand as a speaker for such enormous fees. It is a symptom of the celebrity culture that Clinton, like a Hollywood star, is wanted at almost any price.

The impression of excessive greed created by this frantic moneymaking has put these lifelong advocates of social justice on the defensive, so they both have charitable foundations to which part of their earnings goes and regularly insist that unlike really rich people (as if they weren’t really rich themselves) they pay all the taxes expected of them. But this doesn’t completely convince anyone, partly because of the unsavoury nature of some of their paymasters and partly because they still look greedy. This might not affect Clinton’s standing very much, given that Americans are more supportive than we are of the pursuit of wealth, were it not for the fact that his wife, Hillary, is hoping to be the next president of the United States. And she is in the same game as her husband, being currently even more in demand than he is as an expensive speech-maker.

For a standard fee of at least $200,000, Hillary doesn’t seem excessively fastidious about whom she will address. And she has provoked a great deal of irritation by the way she has talked about her new wealth. Last month she told ABC News that she and Bill had come out of the White House ‘not only dead broke, but in debt’, that they had struggled to get the mortgages they needed ‘for houses’ (note the plural), and that they had achieved it all by very hard work. Then she said much the same in an interview with the Guardian as part of the promotion of her new book for which she had received a multimillion-dollar advance.

This prompted the Washington Post’s political columnist, Ruth Marcus, to write her an open letter last week urging her to stop whining and being defensive about her wealth or to abandon her attempt to be America’s next president. Americans, she said, didn’t ‘have a problem with wealthy candidates or even wealthy ex-presidents and ex-officials’, but they did have a problem with ‘defensiveness and greed’. ‘You are truly well-off by anyone’s definition of the term,’ she wrote. ‘And hard work is the guys tearing up my roof right now. It’s not flying by private jet to pick up a cheque for $200,000 to stand at a podium for an hour.’

Blair and Clinton were once the great advocates of something called the Third Way, which I never completely understood, but which seemed to promote the idea that, however left-wing you were supposed to be, it was perfectly all right to make money hand over fist, provided you remembered poor people in your policies. They seem to have become victims of this delusion.

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  • sfin

    The damage, this grinning idiot has done, and continues to do, is incalculable.

    From a personal point of view, I hold him responsible for ending my marriage, ending my 28 year military career and rendering me stateless – as I know longer recognise the country that could vote in this obvious shyster three times – as one that I can call home; that and the fact that, increasingly I can’t understand which language is being spoken around me on the, thankfully rare occasions which I have to return to Britain (I deliberately omit the ‘Great’).

    I have never before hated politicians merely because I disagreed with their philosophy – but, by God! I hate these two with a passion!

    • saffrin

      Get your ass back here in time to vote 2015 sfin, we need all the help we can get.

      • Doggie Roussel

        So who should he vote for in 2015 ?

  • The_greyhound

    This photo is bad enough – but would a pic of their odious squaws not be even worse?

    • Tom M

      The photo I liked best was on the front of the Telegraph some years ago. Two photos actually one above the other. The top one was a French lady around 50 or so very chic and dignified, beautifully attired and coiffured. Mitterand’s mistress she turned out to be.
      The photo below was Prescott’s wife alongside Cherie Blair dressed in ski pants if I remember correctly. You get the picture. I always reckoned that the juxtaposition of the photos wasn’t an accident.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Both Blair and Clinton have to live with the reality of being married to full-on mingers… give them a break … and Bill did splash out on a dress for Monica L….

        • Sanctimony

          I believe that she still wears that dress every 4th July, along with the Jeffersonian stain of approval…

    • Doggie Roussel

      Hammer Films have the patent …

  • Roger Hudson

    That picture is pornographic, in the literal sense. We want no more of that filth.

  • Doggie Roussel

    At least Bill kept his promise to Monica… not to come in her mouth… Tony, meanwhile has to do some explaining about cuckolding Lupert with shy, retiring Suzie Wong… I don’t imagine that the Blairs’ nuptial bed is a volcanic scenario at present…. another visit to Balmoral, perhaps…. although I imagine the contraceptive appliances are no longer necessary ….

  • thomasaikenhead

    Any article that draws the attention of the public to the enormous wealth acquired by former US Presidents and Prime Ministers of the UK after leaving office is very welcome indeed!

    People might start to think that these individuals acted on behalf of corporate interests whilst in office in order to receive a financial reward after supposedly ‘quitting politics’?

  • Ron Todd

    We started with a moderately wealthy country and PM richer than most but by not more so than most politicians. We ended up with a broke (in both senses of the word) country and a fabulously rich ex-PM. The other way round would have been much better.

    • voidist

      you do remember Mark ” me too ” thatcher , following , mum every where
      as she signed big state contracts and him picking up the cash from
      the floor where mum stood…..Hello Mr arab Minister ” meet my son
      Mark ” could you ……????

      • Ron Todd

        Yes I remember but could you remind me how many labour high ups are trying to get a relative into parliament? Tony Benn had a son in parliament a granddaughter wanting to get in and another son trying to take the old title and get into the lords.

        • voidist

          quite right….what makes it even more disgusting
          in labours case is the constant ” holier than thou ”

  • voidist

    what they set out to do they achieved….both accumulated 100 Million plus
    after thier tenure as pm/president…….
    and to do this ,and not get caught,, is what the game is all about isnt it ?

    Rolf harris got caught

    oohhh ! the GODS we create only to realise thier fraility and our stupdity in


  • Terry Field

    Blair took the Premiership as a step on the career ladder – it was specifically stated at the time.
    His view was it was a means to an end.
    That is what Britain has become.
    Something one steps on; something under the shoe-leather.
    A long way from Empire.

  • jack

    Tony one day goes to the gates of hell and is met by Lucifer. Lucifer says ” Tony, such a famous person as you should walk through my gates where you can have so much fun”. Tony thinks about walking toward the gates marked ‘ Heaven’ but decides to go with Lucifer.Once inside Lucifer invites Tony to choose his room for eternity.In the first room he sees Bill Clinton in a star shape and with a beautiful young girl, her head in between Bill’s legs.Bill is moaning and groaning.Tony interrupts Bill’s obvious pleasure and asks his advise on whether to choose this room.Bill says ” yeah , for sure go for it!” Tony chooses.Lucifer says, “OK Monica you may leave now, we have found a replacement”.