Archive for the ‘sleaze’ Tag

Tony Blair, Barack Obama and cigarettes.

The downstairs lavatory in our country cottage is plastered with fading British newspapers from 2nd May 1997  – reporting the scale, and hope, of Tony Blair’s election victory. I – we – all politically-sentient Britons – were full of hope and enthusiasm for a new generation of politics after eighteen debilitating years of Tory misrule.

A lot has happened since then. We now know that Tony Blair was then and is now a nasty, slimy, lying, mendacious sleazebag. It was apparent in the run up to the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, but the scale of his deception has only recently been most clearly revealed. There is incontrovertible evidence that he lied to Parliament about what he knew about, and decisions he took in the light of, a political donation of one million pounds from Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One.  In the grand scheme of things it’s not quite so serious as misleading the Cabinet, and Parliament, over a decision to invade a sovereign nation and kill so many innocent people in the process; but the fact that the sleaze is now exposed makes it all the more nauseating.

The cynic in me (which is most of me) tells me I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, if he hadn’t been a lying, mendacious sleazebag he wouldn’t have been able to make it to leader of the Labour Party. That’s just how politics works. And even though Tony Blair was such a disappointment, I’m still glad he won then than John Major; and I’m equally sure that David Cameron’s claim to be the “heir to Blair” is entirely accurate.

But I do worry for the world, and for America. I really hope that Americans do pick Obama over McCain; and I will share with my American friends the celebrations, come Bonfire Night, if they do. The world needs change as much as America needs change. But I hope, even more, that Barack Obama does not turn out to be as big a disappointment as Tony Blair.

The transparency angle here is straightforward. Politicians, as much as corporations, are losing the trust of the people; Blair and Obama both tried to reclaim trust by presenting a clean image. In Blair’s case, it was all image; underneath, he is the same mendacious lying sleazebag of a politician that is so destructive of trust.  If Obama is to retain in office the trust he has garnered during the campaign, where image is all, he will have to commit – publicly as well as privately, to himself, to being fully transparent.