Adam Lovejoy writes from London: Informed sources tell Stirring Trouble that Tony Blair will be the surprise guest at the annual Conservative party conference that will run from October 8 to 11 in Birmingham. Blair will give a speech for an hour and a half and get paid around 150,000 smackers for it. David Cameron is a big fan of the former PM and models himself on him.
The news about Blair’s appearance at the Tory annual bash has received a mixed reaction from the party faithful. The feeling among some hard-line Tories is that having Mr Blair at the gathering might send the wrong signal to the nation, proving that the party has turned away from its core values. But free thinking Tories, including some prominent members of the cabinet, have welcomed the news, pointing out that the Conservatives are a modern party that is not afraid to dump some of its values and adopt policies that have absolutely nothing to do with its core beliefs. They point to the fact that only two years ago no sane person would have foreseen an alliance between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and yet it happened and works well, with the coalition still going strong.
Stirring Trouble has learned that Mr Blair, who will arrive in Birmingham on October 9 in a private jet will address the conference right after Chancellor George Osborne delivers his grossly upbeat analysis of the state of the British economy that is supposedly responding well to his economic policies. At least that is what Mr Osborne himself feels and that is what his good friends from the City are telling him. Mr Blair will be announced simply as ‘Tony, one of the greatest politicians ever’, by Mr Cameron himself, and the former prime minister will speak to the delegates in a frank and open way, praising PM Cameron for sticking to some of the policies that New Labour had started, like waging wars abroad, increasing overseas aid and privatising the NHS through the back door. A standing ovation is expected, with Mr Cameron leading the way.
Mr Blair, who consults PM Cameron on a wide range of issues, is also expected to stress that his friend Dave has proven to be even more progressive than the whole of New Labour in his principled stand on gay marriage and on pushing through higher university tuition fees while dealing with student protests in a cool headed manner . ‘Crikey,’ Mr Blair is expected to say, ‘I toyed with the idea of suggesting gay marriage but just could not find the courage to actually announce it as policy. But you, guys, you just did it.’ It’s also anticipated that Mr Blair will reveal that his government always wanted to raise student tuition fees, to cover the huge black hole that was created by the growing costs of higher education, but the most his ministers talked about was ‘a grand or two a year’ , without even daring to mention figures like nine thousand.
In his address to the Tory conference Mr Blair is expected to call on the coalition to resist all calls to undermine the BBC that has proven to be a great friend and ally of all progressive forces in Britain. He will point out that thanks to the BBC the British people have taken on the liberal values that were so alien to them only a couple of decades ago. ‘Don’t even think about cutting the BBC in size or, God forbid, privatising it,’ Mr Blair is expected to tell the conference. ‘That would be the biggest mistake of your lives.’
Stirring Trouble understands that Mr Blair will say at the end of his speech that he remains the same straight kind of guy that he was when he became Prime Minister, with the only difference being that he is now immensely rich and will probably become a billionaire in the next couple of years. ‘Selling my soul to the devil was the best thing that ever happened to me,’ Blair will say jokingly. ‘And I have never looked back since then.’