Tuesday, 8 December 2009
During the hoo-hah over the post of EU President and subsequent election (a loose term these days, here taken to mean 'executive appointment decided over dinner') it was an unidentified British EU 'official' who spoke of Tony's suitability for the job in these terms: 'The fact is that Mr Blair is the A-Team.'
What Tony thought of this comparison to a fictional crack commando squad working outside the law isn't recorded. He seems partial to the phrase, though, having since used it to describe Obama's new foreign policy team (see the report in The Times). It has also been claimed – most notably by David Cameron during Prime Minister's question time – that Blair refers dismissively to Brown and his cabinet as 'the B-Team' (see the video of PM's questions – about 15 mins in is when it kicks off – and the reference by Peter Oborne that sparked it off). Perhaps he just loves it when a plan comes together.
But just how similar are Tony and the suave-talking, cigar-chomping, bling-wearing, clinically insane retro-mercenaries? Realising that good, old-fashioned intelligence is hard to come by these days (identifying weapons of mass destruction, working out where Osama Bin Laden is etc.) here is a field guide to avoid the embarrassment of potential misrecognition.
In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.
In 2003, Tony Blair sent Britain into a military conflict to which they did not really want to commit. Not having a military background himself, he remained in a maximum security stockade (Downing Street) while the real soldiers faced the real guns and real bombs. Today, not really wanted by government or electorate but still miraculously omnipresent, he survives by making a fortune as the world's highest paid public speaker (for unimaginable reasons he's a favourite of the Carlyle Group, a leading private equity investor in the military – see the report in the Telegraph). All this, in spite of a crime he actually did commit. If you have a speaking engagement, if you're not fussy about morality, and if you can afford his current rate of around £2,800 per minute, you can hire Tony Blair.
So, now we know.