Blair to join International Advisory Council on Reforms Ukraine?

It appears that President Poroshenko has asked Tony Blair to join the International Advisory Council on Reforms for Ukraine - a body headed by President Poroshenko.

Fair enough - but what does Tony Blair bring to the table other than being an internationally (in)famous name?

His track record for bringing about meaningful reform in the UK during his 10 years as Prime Minister is hardly overflowing with highlights.  Indeed, “reform” should probably read “deform”.

It is to be hoped he has no input into economic reforms.  The UK is still recovering from his premiership.

What of Mr Blair’s “relaxed” attitude toward politics and public administration?  Ukraine should switch to “sofa government” and minutes of meetings be deemed somewhat unnecessary?

Whilst there is certainly a need to move away from the Soviet legacy rubber stamping or dictatorial/politburo-esq televised admonishments of subordinates, a chat on the sofa setting policy with few if any records is hardly a way to insure accountability and transparency - both of which are vital to Ukrainian reform from top to bottom of the State institutions, and both of which suffered in the UK under Tony Blair.

Regardless of what a reader may think about his personal drive behind taking the UK into the Iraq War debacle, in the process he clearly lied misled parliament in his “justifications” for doing so, upon the basis of a dossier of evidence that was “improved” to make his case.  A man with such moral fibre and ethical standards is therefore best placed to advise on the reform a Rada that is already somewhat lacking in morality and ethics?

Should Mr Blair, who politically neutered the BBC (and its then Director General) over the aforementioned Iraq dossier scandal, have any input in reforming the Ukrainian media space, and in particular politically neutral public broadcasting which is needed in Ukraine?

No Ukrainian President or Cabinet of Ministers past or present requires Mr Blair’s advice when it comes to “cash for honours”.

Domestically when it came to meaningful positive reforms in the UK, Mr Blair’s cup does not overfloweth, even with a decade in the Prime Minister’s chair.

Internationally, since leaving political office, Mr Blair’s reform résumé is hardly any better.  What has he reformed with any degree of success?  Does failed but exceptionally well paid attempts to reform and rehabilitate the image of Central Asian dictators count as a positive or a negative when transforming the issue of human rights in Ukraine?

Indeed, having mentioned Mr Blair’s fees, which are astronomical, even if he be a reformer of outstanding ability and historically known for his reformation accomplishments (which he isn’t), would he be worth what he will cost?  As he doesn’t do charity gigs without outrageous fees, his joining something like the International Advisory Council on Reforms for Ukraine costs how much?

Regardless, whatever he would cost would undoubtedly be money far better spent by the Ukrainian government hiring Washington DC and Brussels lobbyists to fight their corner - and also scupper those that lobby against it.  That would bring far greater returns than anything Mr Blair may espouse as “wisdom” for the Ukrainian taxpayers coin.

If there is a need for a UK input into the International Advisory Council on Reforms for Ukraine there are far better alternatives.  The serious UK choices would be those such as Sir Gus O’Donnell and Sir Christopher Mayer who are but two absolutely top quality civil servants (now retired) able to advise not only upon reforms, but also their implementation, monitoring and measurement from an institutional perspective - and at fees significantly less than Mr Blair demands.


Perhaps this simply comes down to the fact that President Poroshenko wants an internationally “star riddled” reformist advisory component for little other reason than appearances - an elite, famous, but otherwise hollow entity.  Let us be honest, robust and good reformist advice is on “continual send” from the major western nations via diplomatic personnel, and has been consistently given since “The Family” fled Ukraine in February 2014.  Mr Blair will have nothing particularly new or innovative to say that others haven’t already said.

That said, Mr Blair having left the role of Middle East Peace Envoy, will now want to return to the international political stage in another role, as polishing the image of murderous Central Asian dictators pays well but simply doesn’t have cut and thrust of political policy making, nor the positive media spin.  Perhaps he simply asked President Poroshenko for a job.  After all, Misha Saakashvili has been granted a new political lease of life by Ukraine, so why not Tony Blair?