All Blair’s Fault, contd.
I have been inundated with a request, from Polly Toynbee, for my opinion on an article in The Observer by my friend Nick Cohen, in which he describes Tony Blair, on account of his association with President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, as “a George Galloway with a Learjet at his disposal”. I have told her that I was disappointed by the article.
I would say more, but I have been busy trying to hold the line for sane, balanced and career-limiting analysis of Blair’s relations with Rupert Murdoch. The Independent has a particularly bad case of the Daily Mails today. I haven’t got as far as the sports pages, but I suspect that football racism in Poland and Ukraine is “all Blair’s fault”. In the Daily Mail itself David Lawley-Wakelin seems to be writing under the name “Stephen Glover”. (Lawley-Wakelin had a busy day yesterday, as he also seems to have been allowed to write the anonymous leading articles in both the Mail and the Telegraph: at least, they bear the marks of his outburst yesterday, being dangerous, obsessed with forcing Blair to atone for things he has not done and factually inaccurate.)
So I have not had time to read up about the current balance between reform and repression in Kazakhstan. I am not keen in principle on the idea of taking money from rulers with questionable human rights records, but I think Cohen was wrong to fail even to mention the possibility of counter-argument.
In the age old debate between isolation and engagement there is at least a case to be put on the other side.
Democracy promotion in Kazakhstan seems like a noble purpose to me. Unfortunately I have no idea how that is going. But then, neither has Cohen, I suspect. But at least he quotes John Humphrys’s unfinest hour, in which the Great Pooh Bah of the BBC implies that foreigners prefer a less democratic democracy.
The thing that makes me uncomfortable is of course the money, but then I have no idea about that either, and suspect that the Financial Times’s estimate of Blair’s fee at $13m is, shall we say, speculative.
The Office of Tony Blair response to Nick Cohen is here.Tagged in: kazakhstan, tony blair
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