Gerald Warner: Alex Salmond’s secret weapon of mass destruction to the Union

'Nice one, Tony - you really tripped them up with devolution'. Picture: Getty
'Nice one, Tony - you really tripped them up with devolution'. Picture: Getty
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THE Ghost of Christmas Past is rattling his chains as he returns to haunt us. “Hey, look… I mean… Come on – I’m a pretty straight sort of guy…” The Great Charlatan Blair is amongst us again, ­dispensing his wise counsel.

Why we should love the EU – more importantly, why we should love Anthony Lynton Blair – and similar topics are again being ­canvassed by the most vapid mind that ever disfigured British public life.

So far, so fatuous – but, soft! Blair is now intervening in the one area where he might actually exert some influence, though wholly baleful: he is attaching himself to the campaign to save the ­Union, which is the best news Alex Salmond has received during 2012, his annus horribilis. Until now, support for independence has been declining at a rate that suggests 2014 will see the Yes vote reduced to the SNP membership, the Cybernats, the anti-English employment police and similar capering loons. Blair could change that: his espousal of any cause is worth countless votes to the opposing camp.

The Sage of Sedgefield told the Press Gallery luncheon at Westminster last week that he is “happy to play a part” (what else has he done all his life?) in the No campaign in the independence referendum. Kenneth Gibson, MSP, for the ­nationalists, described Blair’s announcement as “an early Christmas present for ‘Yes’ ”. Blair demonstrated the ease and shamelessness with which he rewrites history by repudiating personal responsibility for Scotland’s current constitutional impasse.

Denying that devolution had been a spur to the SNP’s drive to independence the Great Charlatan insisted that devolution has made it “easier” to fight the campaign to keep the UK together. Well, yes, obviously the SNP was a more formidable force, with six seats at Westminster, when Blair came to power in 1997; today the nationalists still have a taxi-load of half a dozen MPs, with a paltry 69 MSPs at Holyrood and a majority government running most aspects of public policy in Scotland. Nice one, Tony – you really tripped them up with your cunning devolution policy.

It is not given to lesser minds to divine the brilliance of everything that Blair has done: that insight depends on a peculiar gnosis. He was similarly unapologetic last week about the unrestricted immigration over which he presided for a decade: “I would like to say that I think immigration has been good for Britain…” What he did not like to say was where he stands now on his government’s prediction that the ending of immigration controls from ­Eastern Europe in 2004 would result in 13,000 extra entrants; hundreds of ­thousands ­arrived. Blair insisted, however, “We should not make them the scapegoats for our problems.”

Nor – and this is very close to Tony’s heart – should we make scapegoats of bankers. This was a repetition of his warning last July that Britain must not “hang bankers at the end of the street”. Some of Tony’s best friends are bankers: in July he told the Financial Times he is paid £2.5 million a year by JP Morgan, while he is believed to earn £1m from ­Zurich Financial Services for advice on “climate change”. Last year alone his income was assessed by the Financial Times at around £20m and he owns nine houses. Less appreciated is his activity as Middle East peace envoy: last week the ungrateful Palestinians called him “useless, useless, useless”, which may be their sole shared opinion with Israel.

More than the break-up of the United Kingdom, Blair showed himself alarmed last week by potential British withdrawal from the EU. The rise of UKIP has infuriated him, since his destiny is to become President of Europe. He has his own Faith Foundation (which illustrates his innocence of any sense of irony) and he and the Scouse Spouse have not been slow to tell the Pope where he is going wrong.

This has been a unique career. From watching his teenage hero Jackie Milburn, of Newcastle United, at St James’s Park (even though Milburn left Newcastle when Blair was four), to stowing away at 14 at Newcastle Airport on a flight to the Bahamas (although no long-haul flights left from Newcastle in those days), to taking a JIC report that described intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein’s WMD programme as “sporadic and patchy” and converting it to “extensive, detailed and authoritative”, Blair has never been hobbled by objective truth. This is the politician to whom David Cameron and the Tory “modernising” clique refer as “The Master”. For Unionists, the news that Tony, Hammer of the Iraqis, is to play a leading role in the campaign to save the Union is the most alarming development so far. “Hey, I’m a pretty straight sort of guy…” Be very afraid. «

Twitter: @GeraldWarner1