New Labour and money – don’t they just make a perfect fit! Former prime minister Tony Blair is taking a part-time advisory post with a US bank at a modest £500,000 a year while work and pensions secretary Peter Hain is about to own up to £100,000 in previously undeclared donations towards his deputy leadership campaign. Apparently most of these came from big business.
When you add in the £500,000 given secretly to New Labour by property developer David Abrahams, the picture is even clearer. New Labour is unashamedly and openly the party of big business, having supplanted the Tories in this traditional role in capitalist society. This process was set in motion immediately after Blair became leader in 1994, which with Gordon Brown’s backing, was completed in government.
So it is only natural that Blair should take up a post – let’s not dignify it by calling it a job - with JP Morgan. One of Wall Street's leading banks, it is part of JP Morgan Chase & Co, a global financial services firm with assets of $1.5 trillion (£760bn) and operations in more than 50 countries. Blair, who stood down as prime minister in June last year, has been employed "in a senior advisory capacity", the bank said. Apparently Blair will advise the firm's chief executive and senior management team, "drawing on his immense international experience to provide the firm with strategic advice and insight on global political issues and emerging trends".
One of the key – if not the main – aspects of corporate-driven globalisation is the way in which the capitalist state has been drawn into this process. There is now largely a coincidence of interests between big business, finance and the mechanisms and institutions of the state in each country. In turn, these are subordinated to the needs of the global economy and markets rather than so-called national interests. Large areas of decision-making are either in the hands of supra-national bodies like the World Trade Organisation and the European Union or have been abandoned altogether.
Blair and Brown long ago stole on a march on opponents of global capitalism by acknowledging this shift and deciding to drag their party into the middle of this process. In doing so, they ended for good the era of reform-centred politics which was based on making nationally-based compromises with local capitalists. So Blair was only pointing out the obvious when he said on taking up the JP Morgan post: “Nowadays, the intersection between politics and the economy in different parts of the world, including the emerging markets, is very strong."
But 2008 is not 1994. We are now at a profound crisis point in the corporate-driven globalisation process. Banks similar to JP Morgan are in deep trouble, with many facing insolvency as the period of growth based on fantasy finance unravels. With a little luck, Blair and his new employer will go down in flames together. It would only prove Blair’s point about the “intersection” between economics and politics is correct.
AWTW communications editor