On November 13, Yahoo!UK featured an interesting news item borrowed from Politics.co.uk.
Did you know that Tony Blair is working for the Kazakh president? Neither did I.
Richard Heller, a former adviser to Denis Healey and Gerald Kaufman, brought this gem to our attention.
This is potentially dangerous — and possibly treasonous. However, let’s start at the beginning (emphases mine):
Tony Blair … recently signed a multimillion pound contract to advise President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. He has reportedly opened an office in the capital, Astana. Other than the president, no-one knows what advice Mr Blair is giving.
As Heller points out, the news stories can only speculate. The fact is — no-one knows.
Now, we might ask how it is that Mr Blair is free to offer his services for a staggering amount of money to a country which is far from being a Western ally, important though it is in certain natural resources.
Since Tony Blair is not a peer, he did not have to supply the minimal and haphazard information required for the Register of Lords Interests. He did not have to notify the Foreign Office of his Kazakh appointment and it is not mentioned on the website of our local embassy.
Furthermore, the watchdog on ex-ministerial activity, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), has no listing of Blair’s paid work, either.
So, he would appear to be a free agent in the broadest sense of the term.
From a security standpoint, this working relationship poses potential threats. Heller explains:
Whether he likes it or not, Tony Blair is taking sides in the internal politics of Kazakhstan, which are murky and dangerous for an amateur outsider. He has become a trophy for the ruling president and a figure of contempt for the opposition. As North Africa has proved, even very long-running rulers can eventually fall, and if that happened in Kazakhstan (a country of great strategic importance) Tony Blair will have harmed our country’s relationship with the replacement government. But while President Nazarbayev is in power, it must strengthen his ego and his authority in any discussions with our country to have a former premier in his pocket. Whether he likes it or not, Tony Blair will diminish the authority, and in all probability the access, of our ambassador in Astana, David Moran.
Heller reminds us that the oath of loyalty to the Queen and her successors which Blair took is a lifelong pledge:
Its language is orotund and opaque but its tenor and general purpose are clear. It ends: “You will to your uttermost bear faith and allegiance unto the Queen’s Majesty; and will assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, and authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the crown by acts of parliament, or otherwise, against all foreign princes, persons, prelates, states, or potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true servant ought to do to Her Majesty. So help you God.” Tony Blair does not care much about history unless he can invent it, but if he did take this oath seriously it would warn him against trying to serve two sovereigns and putting himself in the pay of any foreign state or potentate.
A violation of the oath of loyalty is serious enough. However, this matter is not restricted to Britain. Heller points out:
Tony Blair may face greater scrutiny in the United States than in our own country. If he helps the Kazakhs there in any way, he is potentially liable to register as their agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. This wide-ranging law was originally designed to combat Nazi and Soviet agents: it is piquant to think that it might catch Tony Blair and positively delicious to imagine him receiving a late-night visit from the FBI.
Someone should put the frighteners on him, but a visit from the FBI seems a bit hopeful.
So, who in power will do anything about this? David Cameron? The Queen? William Hague?
I’d like to see this story come up for a vigourous Parliamentary debate with decisive action taken.
This is further proof that Tony Blair does not care about our national sovereignty — nor, for that matter, about honouring oaths he has taken to our Head of State. And all along we thought he was devoting the rest of his life to multifaith activities. Pah.
Richard Heller makes the following recommendation:
No ex-minister should be allowed to work for any foreign ruler or government or state agency without the prior approval of the Queen-in-Council, including the prime minister and foreign secretary of the day. There should be a presumption against any approval, although an ex-minister should be allowed to do voluntary service in a poor country, or to serve as an independent peace envoy or for other humanitarian purposes. That would not bar any ex-minister from joining an international body or a non-governmental organisation.
That really is something which must be taken up in Parliament.
The UK Government must stop Tony Blair’s latest (ad)venture.