Friday 28 October 2011


While the rest of us see our savings diminish, our salaries static, our houses losing value, our pensions disappearing and prices rising at the fastest rate for 12 years, it's probably not comforting to know that a fund that John Major thought to set up for himself, and other retired prime ministers, is handing out vast sums to people who have absolutely no need whatsoever for the money.

Major clearly thought that, although he was a bit of a disaster as a prime minister, he should be entitled to more than just his pension, the royalties from books he wrote, the fees for speaking engagements and radio and television appearances, and so he set up the Public Duties Fund, after only one year in office, to provide money for ex-prime ministers for answering letters and attending public functions. So it's easy to see where his priorities were.

Goodness, I answer letters and attend functions for no fee whatsoever, but of course I accept that prime ministers may get a few more of both to do that I do. (Mind you, I would have thought that it was an honour to be asked to come for dinner at the palace when a foreign big noise was in London. But no, they need payment.) Anyway, with that in mind you would have assumed that it would be a relatively small amount, but you would be wrong in that assumption.

No: it's a lot. Over £1.7 million in 5 years.

Indeed Mrs Thatcher, who for the last five years has attended very few functions apart from Liam Fox's birthday party, and presumably answered very few letters due to her poor state of physical and mental health, has claimed, in that period, no less than £535,000.

Over half a million going to an incredibly rich old woman for doing virtually nothing. Isn't it the Tories who complain that Winter Heating Allowance shouldn't be going to people who don't need it. And that's only £750 over 5 years. We're all in it together, except some.

Why does she get it anyway? Major introduced it in 1991. She was on the back benches by that time. On the rare occasion that the lower orders get some sort of boon, it is never backdated. But for that lot it is. As Cilla would say "Surprise, Surprise". But it does show that if you make the rules, you can benefit nicely from them.

Major himself over the last five years has claimed £490,000. Nice work if you can get it.

Of course, you might know it, the nasty money grubbing war monger on the right here (ironically), who must have difficulty remembering how many jobs and incomes he has, has put in claims for £273,000 in the four years since he stood down.

Don't they make you sick?


  1. I knew, just KNEW you two would blog on this when I read it in the Observer!

  2. Ah Dean, you read my mind like a cheap paperback! :)

    But it's not fair. She doesn't do anything for it, and Blair... sheeeesh, that man costs us an arm and a leg in round the clock security, while he trots off round the world earning millions.

    In my opinion the security should only be at our expense when he is travelling on British business. When he's off doing his many and various jobs, lecturing at Harvard, or Yale or wherever, or being on the board of a bank, or getting his photograph taken with some pathetic who thinks that it's a cool thing for the mantelpiece (£250 a pop), he should pay for it himself, or take his wife with him. She'd scare anything away.

  3. How much has Mr Broon picked up !!

  4. They didn't include that, Anon. I'm not sure you can avail yourself of it until you are out of the Commons.

    I'm not sure about him as far as money is concerned. I think he turned down the pension he was entitled to.

  5. And Sir John, what of him?

    Mind you, he is actually rather active as a post-PM.

  6. Dean reading the Observer lol.
    A publication with worse grammar than Dean ?
    I suspect the wee gentleman's footstool is taking the mick lol

  7. It’s a disgrace! They should pay us after all if it were not for doing their job they would just be nobodies like the rest of us aand who would want to hear them speak or read their books?

  8. Ah Monty, I sometimes read articles in the Daily Mail.

  9. Monty,

    I actually rather enjoy the Observer. Andrew Rawnsley et al are all top notch journalists, able to put together compelling arguments.

    Unlike some people round these parts! :P

  10. Bliar looks like he has just seen his bank statement in that pic.

    Maggie the one who released the brakes on the banking sector to go forth and multiply before Brown cut the hydraulic pipes resulting in the crash.

    I believe there was a spoof back in 1926 on the BBC about the collapse of Big Ben etc, if only.

  11. Yes, CH. When you consider how much of a mess they made, each one of them, you wonder that we aren't charging them £100,000 a year.

    Big Ben is, in fact, starting to sink but it's estimated that at current rates it will be 4,000 years before it's as bad as the Tower at Pisa.

    Still, that's only as estimate, and who knows what they will be digging out under London in the future.


  13. Tris....I appreciate your point about the substantial amounts of money involved here. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must nevertheless mention once again Blair's relatively shabby treatment as a former Prime Minister vis a vis Thatcher and Major.

    Yes, it's true that Blair - like all former Prime Ministers - is a high maintenance item. (We have the same problem with ex-presidents.) But he has been grievously wronged by being frozen out of a Garter knighthood by a Queen who clearly doesn't like him.

    By contrast, the Thatcher woman not only holds the Order of the Garter, she is a Peer of the Realm. Even a nonentity like John Major is a Garter Knight. I understand that from the 18th century until 1946, the Garter was conferred upon the advice of the Government. Then it was returned to the personal prerogative of the Monarch. So recent Labour politicians need not apply. And recent Tory politicians have no need to apply. (Tony's wife being opposed to the Monarchy probably doesn't help much either.)

    A little off-topic I realize. But actually about as close as I ever manage to get.


  14. Danny - The only thing Blair deserves is a rope round his neck whilst hanging from a lamppost for his involvement in the murder of the people in the London Bombings and the hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  15. Billy....I take your point, and I agree that following George W. Bush into his personal wars should involve severe criminal penalties for a British Prime Minister.

    That said, history suggests that a Garter Knighthood would not preclude hanging him later. More than one Garter Knight has been executed. Not least, Charles I, who went to the block wearing his Garter badge encrusted with over 400 diamonds. (Or so Google tells me.)

  16. Tris....To be a bit more on-topic than the Garter thingy, I wonder whether ex-Prime Ministers or ex-Presidents enjoy more lavish remuneration. I suppose the answer is that they both make out like bandits.

    Ex-Presidents (apart from a $200,000 pension), have various allowances and benefits. Among these are free transportation (with up to two staff employees) when traveling on official US business, and free medical treatment in military hospitals. They also receive an allowance for a personal office and staff which begins at $150,000 annually.

    But then there are those speaking fees and book deals you referred to. These are unlimited...well sort of. Ronald Reagan, after leaving office, traveled to Japan for a couple of twenty minute speaking engagements that netted him TWO MILLION dollars. There was such a public outcry, that Saint Ronald (a GOP saint) never dared indulge such unbounded greed again.

  17. I know you worry greatly about Garters and Thistles and I'm sure that Mr Blair is grateful for your concern. :)

    I didn't know that the Queen had the prerogative over who gets what in these matters. It was plain from his absence at the wedding of Kate and Willie and the Queen or Charlie or someone important doesn't like him, and indeed Brown who had only stood down as PM less than a year before. I thought that that was a shocking piece of bad form from the Palace.

    You'll know this better than I, but isn't there a limited number of people allowed to be Garter knights? And don't they have to go on a list and wait till someone dies? And aren't most of them foreign royals? And would being Scottish preclude them from being invited, as the Scots have the far more prestigious (here anyway) Thistle order?

    I know you like a few questions to keep you on your toes! :)

  18. Billy. He should have been sent to the Hague for his part in the invasion of another country.

    In order to change the regime he and Bush went to war, against the will of the UN. France and Russia had made it clear they would vote against any motion for military action.

    In order to get ONE MAN, they killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens; they bombed their homes and their businesses; they left orphans and grieving parents and a wrecked infrastructure.

    Additionally because of the cack-handed way that the two countries and their right wing mates in Spain and Italy dealt with the aftermath of the war, they opened the door to extremists; set back progress and women's rights by 50 years and Iraq is in a far worse situation after the war than it was before.

    And then the smarmy bastard goes around the world on our money earning himself vast sums and with some Congressional Medal in his pocket (Danny will know which exactly medal he has.)

    And on top of his PM pension he gets THAT kind of allowance.

    To add to the irony, George Bush appointed him peace envoy to Palestine and Israel. Peace Envoy!!!!! I wonder they didn't give Pol Pot a job like that.

    Yes, the Hague, a fair trial and then a lamp post.

  19. No such rectitude seems to afflict our PMs.

    Thatcher wrote seemingly endless books about how great she was; how she thought of everything; why the woman invented light and heat and penicillin!

    I love political biographies, and autobiographies, but I could read less than a hundred out of the thousands of pages that she wrote about her own brilliance.

    Everyone was wrong but her, and in the end they (everyone else) stabbed her in the back.

    But of course the books sold well, particularly in America, which seemed to see her as some sort of god.

    She was in demand as a speaker, and ...well, you know the theory of supply and demand. She made a lot of money to add to the millions that Dennis made from oil, and being a director of or consultant to just about everything.

    She has never had any problem with making vast amounts of money, nor has she ever had any problem with calling herself a Christian.

    As for Blair, well we all know what grasping money grubbers he and his wife are.

    Major has written memoirs and books on cricket (and read some of his stuff on radio). They're deathly boring, but for those who like that sort of thing... that is the sort of thing they like.

    He's probably behaved in the most appropriate way for an ex PM, and made the least money.

  20. Tris....Be assured that I will continue to monitor the royal snub of Tony Blair from this side of the pond, and alert readers of Munguin's Republic as events unfold. And would be pleased to serve as your go to guy (with help from Wikipedia) for information on the Garter and the Thistle.

    The Queen certainly could bestow a Garter Knighthood on Tony if she wanted to. Apart from the Ex Officio members (the Queen and Charlie), Royal Knights and Ladies (the British royals), and the Stranger Knights and Ladies (sundry foreign royals), there are 24 Knights and Ladies Companions, with a current membership of 23. A potential slot for Tony, conspicuous in its vacancy.....clearly denoting an absence of royal favor.

    There are no current openings among the 16 Knights and Ladies Companions of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

    You're correct to point out that the Americans have certainly awarded Blair for service to US foreign policy. He received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. And he is one of two Prime Ministers (with Mrs. Thatcher being the other) who has received the highest American civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    BTW, The Guardian reports that he never bothered to come over to collect his Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. Maybe in the days immediately after the Iraq invasion, it was just a little bit TOO OBVIOUSLY conferred for service to American foreign policy.

  21. Danny:

    You're sounding a little like Westwing's Lord John there in the first paragraph, so I'll play the president. I accept your kind offer to be my "go to guy" !!


    Thanks for the information on the Thistle and Garter. It seems that HM the Q could give Tony a Garter, but hasn't (can Scotsmen ...for I fear I have to admit that Blair is one of us...become Garter knights, or would he have to wait for a Thistle knight to die?

    I remember that he felt it was a bad idea to go over to Washington for his medal. So Bush put it in the post with a first class stamp and it took less than 3 weeks to deliver it.

    Not bad huh?

  22. my capacity as your Garter and Thistle reporter, and in the style of Lord John....THANK GOD you called on me to sort this out. While the Order of the Garter is purely an English Order and a gift of the English Sovereign, it is currently awarded to persons "from British and other Commonwealth realms." (Apart from some of the supernumerary foreign royals.) So I'd say that British PM Blair is clearly eligible for the Garter. And as a native born Scot, he would also be eligible for appointment to a vacancy in the Order of the Thistle, a purely Scottish order, and a gift of the Queen of Scotland. Individuals have been members of both orders, and have then often, but not always, resigned the Thistle in favor of the Garter, considered the more senior order by date of founding.

    I've also found an interesting and pretty much irrelevant fact. The current Chancellor of the Order of the Garter is The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington. He is Peter Carrington, an hereditary peer who served as British Foreign Secretary and Secretary General of NATO. He also received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in joining Maggie, Tony, and Lord Robertson among the British recipients of this highest American honor.

    Glad to hear that Tony was able to collect his Congressional Gold Medal in 2003, if only by transatlantic post. I suppose it would have been a little bit embarrassing to accept the medal in person just as the British troops were first entering Iraq. But in 2009, he personally collected his Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

  23. Ah Danny, what would I do without you. Thank god, indeed, I did call upon you...

    Oh wee Georgie Robertson, little git. Did he get a medal too. I wonder how much ass licking he had to do to get that.

    nastly little piece of work. Definately a candidate for my grandmother's saying "when dirt rises, it flees".

    I'm not entirely sure what it means, but it's something very disparaging, and as such suitable for Robertson.

    As for Maggie and Tony... both crooked as dog's hind legs.

    Your medal has been sorely dishonoured by their receiving it.