Sunday, June 18, 2006

US honours: Blair's Neo-Conservative sympathies demonstrated

It is remarkable that it has taken the passage of three years and a parliamentary question from Norman Baker for us to find out that many US citizens involved in the Iraq war were given honours by the Queen as far back as 2003. Amongst these was a CBE given to Riley Bechtel, who the Observer describes as the "billionaire boss of the US-based Bechtel Corporation, which has won big...contracts in Britain and made a fortune from the Iraq war".

Margaret Beckett says "Honorary awards to citizens where Her Majesty the Queen is not head of state are not formally announced".


"Sir" Bob Geldolf. "Sir" Terry Wogan. "Sir" Stormin' Norman.

We knew about all these, with accompanying blanket media coverage, the moment they were awarded.

Yet, the CBE given "Sir" Riley Bechtel was not publicised at all, and the dear fellow has been hiding his CBE under a bushel for three years.

Funny how these CBEs to non-British nationals are well advertised for popular figures but not advertised at all for US businessmen who have "made a fortune" from the Iraq war.

(In passing this also begs the question, what is the point of an honour if people don't find out about it, but we'll put that to one side).

As Norman Baker points out in the Observer, the award of these honours shows that "what matters in Tony Blair's Britain is those with power, money and a US accent".

It shows us a thing which often pops up with Tony Blair. For an earnest reader of "Das Kapital", he shows sympathy with the most surprising people sometimes. George Bush, for example. On Parliament TV, I saw Blair nodding energetically when , just before we invaded Iraq, Sir Peter Tapsell said it would damage our national reputation if we pulled out then. It is the same Blair who said when reminded that Harold Wilson's sons became a large school headteacher and a University lecturer that he hoped 'my children do better than that'.

I am not saying Blair is a neo-Conservative. At least his government has been recently, and rather tardily, been critical of Guantanemo camp. But there are many aspects of Tony Blair, son of former Tory Leo Blair, that show him to be a high Tory by instinct in many areas. Indeed, these honours awarded to rich US businessmen, presumably for enriching themselves in Iraq, are testament to a degree of Neo-Conservative sympathies within Blair.

It is all rather disturbing and no surprise that two-thirds of Labour members want Blair to stand down next year. They have finally realised what really makes him tick.


  1. I am not sure what is the relevance of Leo Blair's Toryism; after all, before being a Tory Leo Blair was a communist.

    I don't disagree that the use of honours is often curious, sometimes distasteful, and mostly comical (after all, what exactly are honours?) - but your use of the term "neo-conservative" is purely pejorative. Blair may or may not be neoconservative, but it is a rather more sophisticated political approach than merely an aphorism for "bad" or a label for American supremism.

  2. Simon

    Thank you for your most thoughtful response