There was an interesting discussion yesterday on Paddy O’Connell’s “Broadcasting House” show on Radio 4.
It was during the newspaper review and was sparked, I think, by someone mentioning Tony Blair’s obscene earnings subsequent to his getting permission to stand down as prime minister from his boss in the White House.
Paddy’s guests were Salina Scott (that woman is obsessed with Yorkshire and managed to mention it in every comment she made), Miriam Margolyes (who reminded us several times that she is an intellectual snob... although I was left wondering what she gets to be snobby about, given that not one of her contributions displayed an iota of intellectual effort), and SIR Ming the Merciless.
It was Ming who was particularly incensed by Blair’s amassing of so much money. (Ming has to be content with interior decorators at our expense). This was where he seemed to depart from any kind of common sense and showed how the so-called “political classes” live in Lulu land.
He felt that, in fairness to Blair, it was because we left our prime ministers in such an impoverished state when they left office, that they were obliged to look elsewhere for ways of making money. He thought it was not supportable that someone who had held the highest office in the land should be left so poorly off that they should be obliged to tour and publish books.... and make vast amounts of money.
I felt that was rather odd. Mrs Thatcher made a vast amount by touring America giving speeches on the Downing Street Years and anything else that would pay her a handsome sum. Surely with SIR Dennis’s fortune (not to mention an hereditary title for erm....whatever), they were hardly short of a bob or two. I’m sure that Major had no money, but there is a prime ministerial pension of £64,000 a year paid immediately upon retirement from the post, there is also a car for life, together with a driver and round the clock special branch protection, so he’ll never have to stand in a queue at Tesco like the rest of us. Additionally there is around £80,000 a year funding to run an office.
Mr Blair is a QC, as is his wife. Each is capable of earnings of £500,000 a year doing his/her job in court. Add it together, put the prime ministerial pension in on top and they should just manage to get by.
Ming bemoaned the fact that when Harold Wilson started to feel the effects of Dementia he had to get his friends to rally round to help pay for his care... although, you would have thought that after all that Labour government on the 60s and 70s the National Health Service would have been providing that care. I mean Harold ran in rarified circles. His friends would have had some money to contribute...what about poor old Mr McTavish who worked in the jute mill? Would his mates be able to fork out to pay for his care? No. Well, in what way exactly was Mr Wilson different from Mr McTavish?
Ming’s solution, rather a dim one in my opinion for such an experienced politician, is that the prime ministerial pension be vastly increased so that there would be no need for the selling of oneself after stepping down (or being fired).
My solution is that they learn to get by on their incredibly generous pensions.
What do you guys think?