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More Fingers in the Pot
Blair’s Guards’ Expenses under Scrutiny
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
First it was the politicians, and now it’s their bodyguards being scrutinised for their expense claims. The Daily Mail has today revealed shocking figures about how much ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s security is costing the British taxpayer.

Following the new coalition government’s announcement that Blair’s security will be affected in the sweeping cuts they are making, the reality of just how much the taxpayers are forking out for his protection has emerged. It’s a tale of excess to rival even the MP’s expense scandal of last year.

There are no moat cleaners or duck houses, just five-star hotels, limousines, and a £1.19 packet of sweets from Marks and Spencer. Nice work if you can get it.

Now, I don’t want to knock the British police; they do a fantastic job under immense pressure, and a day’s work for them involves the risk of being killed. Also, to be honest, I think if I had to put up with Tony and Cherie Blair every day I’d need a few perks on my expenses too. But these guys are claiming up to £5000 a week. They’re costing the taxpayer £2million a year! I said I’d need a few perks if I were them, but this lot are having a laugh.

They accompanied the Blairs on a two-week holiday in Borneo last summer, and racked up an expenses bill of £22,000. The bulk of this was made up by the £1200 a night, six-bed luxury villa they stayed in – and there were only three of them. There were rooms available from £150 per night, but that wasn’t good enough; it was first-class all the way for these guys. They even racked up a £200 laundry bill while they were there. I wish I had known – I would have done it for half that.

Blair has reportedly reacted angrily to requests that he contribute to the cost of the 16-strong ‘close protection team’ that accompanies him around the world on both business and pleasure trips, as well as protecting his £3.5million house in London and his £4million country mansion in Buckinghamshire. I guess money must be a bit tight for him at the moment. After all – he only earns £15million a year. Poor bloke; I don’t know how he manages on such a paltry income.

It must be really difficult for him, having a wife and kids to feed, and two houses to run, and all on just £15million a year. It’s the kids I feel sorry for – going to their private schools with holes in their shoes and wearing second-hand clothes from the Oxfam shop. The winter will be particularly rough for them with the rise in VAT. With their income they’re not going to be able to pay the bills on their two houses. They’ll all be huddled around a candle in the dining room, sharing a bowl of cabbage soup. Poor Cherie will have to appear in the High Court wearing a moth-eaten barrister’s wig, before trudging home through the snow, stopping in at Aldi to buy a bit of food with her Child Benefit. Is this the twenty-first century or are we still living in Dickens’s times? £15million just doesn’t buy you anything these days. Of course, Blair could save himself a fortune on security costs if he just stopped being such a tit.

Fair enough; ex-Prime Ministers need protection – especially Blair, after making himself so popular with the war in Iraq and the allegations of condoning torture of terror suspects. But they should at least make some contribution to the costs, especially when they’re earning the kind of money Blair is, on top of his £64,000 a year pension for being an ex-Prime Minister. He earns £80,000 an hour for his speaking engagements. Putting aside the fact that anyone who pays that much just for a speaker must be mental – for that kind of money I’d expect a few songs and some dancing girls as well – Blair would only have to put in three hours’ work to pay for his security for a whole year.

I guess what it all boils down to is that those who have want more, while those who haven’t get less. I think Alexander Pope summed the whole thing up perfectly when he said, “One may see the small value God has for riches by the people He gives them to.”

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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.






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