Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair continued his Mission from God last week with a star-billing at a conference at the Vatican, headquarters of the lucrative worldwide franchise for Roman Catholicism.

He was clapped and cheered by a packed audience when he assured them of the “universality” of Catholicism and he endorsed Pope Benedict’s edict on God being central to politics, society, economy and culture as “brilliant”.

In a double-page spread in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the church’s high-profile convert was accorded the full PR presentation. In an interview, he recalled that when he arrived at university he was attracted immediately to his future wife Cherie Booth “who was already an active Catholic on campus”.

He also said Cherie, QC, was the driving force behind his conversion, which took place when he left office two years ago after ordering British forces to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

However, there are some inconsistencies in Blair’s recollections. He went to Oxford and Booth was at the London School of Economics (LSE). So how could they have seen each other on campus?

In other published accounts, the Blairs have said that they first met at barristers’ chambers in London after graduating.

This is a man who was guided by God when he recognised weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but God hasn’t supplied the same accuracy in pinpointing the moment when he met his life partner.

In office Blair did not “do God” as his press officer Alistair Campbell roughly remarked, but he’s been making up ever since.

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has come into existence alongside his place as the ambassador for the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States) to find a settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Loathed by the Palestinians for his lifetime service to hardline Israeli Zionism and distrusted by the Israelis for his errand boy relationship with Washington, Blair’s diplomacy is an expensive fiasco. He occupies a huge office in Mayfair and a lavish penthouse in one of East Jerusalem’s five-star hotels, big-noting himself as he shuttles around the world in first class.

His “neutrality” was somewhat tarnished in May this year when he received a $1.4 million award from the Israeli Dan David Foundation for his “exceptional leadership”.

When he intoned last year, “My faith has always been an important part of my politics”, the likes of the ABC’s Geraldine Doogue had an attack of the vapours and rushed to London to exclusively record the great man’s wisdom on peace, humanity and the spirit of God.

The Anglican Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has deflated Blair’s now zealous advocacy of Christianity saying that if he had genuinely followed the dictates of a highly-developed conscience when he was Prime Minister, it might have led to a more constructive social policy at home and principled policies abroad.

Peter Stanford, former editor of Britain’s Catholic Herald, has examined Blair’s commitment to Christian teachings with forensic brilliance and found that he was a failure as an apostle of God.

Accusing Blair of creating a gap between the richest and the poorest greater than at any time in Britain before the boom of the 1960s, Stanford said:

For the duration of his time at No.10, there is no evidence that he made any attempt to warn or even gently remind those who were making easy profits from purely speculative activities that they were walking a tough moral line.

Instead he invited them to dinners and awarded them honours, the bankers and financiers who we now know to have been breaking the backs of the poor, and whose ranks Blair has now himself joined.

That’s a reference to the fact that the architect of New Labour now acts as an adviser to JP Morgan ($5 million) and Zurich Insurance ($4 million).

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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