Tony Blair is hardly a politician born in the image of outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. And a speech he gave on Thursday 20 February was typical ‘centrist dad‘ fare. But there are some rumours circulating about what he did beforehand which aren’t true – however believable they may be.
Another day, another centrist dad speech
Blair was giving a speech at King’s College London. It was via his thinktank the Tony Blair Institute:
Tony Blair will be giving a speech @KingsCollegeLon this morning to mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Labour Party.
— Tony Blair Institute (@InstituteGC) February 20, 2020
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His speech represented the usual antiquated centrism. As BBC News reported, Blair called on the Labour leadership candidate to consider looking at “fundamental reconstruction” of the party. But interestingly, he admitted that his views were probably not “particularly welcome”. Undoubtedly not, although not as unwelcome as a whistle-stop tour of Iraq from him would probably be right now.
But it was what people think Blair did before this which got their hackles up.
To be able to deliver his dull, soulless lecture, some people mistakenly thought the former PM had to cross a picket line. One person said:
I am so angry about this. Tony Blair literally crossing a UCU picket line. I’m an Associate Lecturer, work in two universities both on zero hours contracts. 40/50 hours a week, last year I scraped together 13k. This year one university dropped my pay by 20%. I might make 11K.
Another pointed out that Blair would be delivering:
a lecture about the founding of a party created to give the trade union movement a political voice, an aim he work[ed] hard to destroy
But while Blair scabbing on striking workers may be wholly believable, on this occasion it’s not true. Because staff at King’s College London aren’t actually on strike yet:
King's goes on strike next week, but today is the first day of action for many other universities. Sending support and solidarity to all our striking academic and professional services colleagues.
— KCL UCU (@KCL_UCU) February 20, 2020
I'm *really* not used to defending Blair, but the strike at King's doesn't start until Monday, so there was no picket. Not all universities are using the same dates. https://t.co/IJcPoyMXnT
— Dr. Snarey (@Snarey) February 20, 2020
The UCU says 50,000 of its members will take the action over workloads, pay, a 15% gender pay gap, increased casualisation and changes to pensions for staff in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
The union is angry members are now having to pay 9.6% in pension contributions, up from 8%, and wants universities to pay the full increase instead.
Blair. Orbiting himself.
In short, Blair didn’t do anything wrong. Which is surely a first. Because not least among his torrid record of misdemeanours is:
- The disastrous invasion of Iraq.
- Welfare reform, including the contentious Work Capability Assessment.
- The invasion of Iraq.
- Engaging in social cleansing in London.
- Becoming godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s children.
- Did we mention the invasion of Iraq?
And when you’ve got the blood of hundreds of thousands of dead civilians on your hands, people will justifiably have a deep mistrust of everything you do.
Featured image via BBC
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