Anorak News | Closer To God

Closer To God

by | 12th, April 2006

‘BEFORE the resurrection must come the death by a thousand cuts. Not that Tony Blair’s making many cuts, spending more than $130,000 of taxpayer’s money on his family’s holidays, but you get the gist.

Tony rises again

This is Holy Week, and in keeping with the mood of the time, perhaps we should forgive Tony his extravagances.

As the Telegraph reports, the Prime Minister has used the Queen’s Flight – also known as 32 Squadron (two four-engined BAE 146s (each of which carries 19 to 26 passengers) and five twin-engined HS 125s (each of which carries five passengers) – on 677 occasions since 1997, including a number of family holidays.

This news revealed under freedom of information legislation, and reported on the Times’s front page (“Blair used royal jet for family holidays”), says that taxpayers forked out £31,000 for the Blair’s 2004 Christmas break to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

His holiday in Italy 1997 cost us £17,000; France 1998 set us back £18,000; and Italy 2000 was a snip at £16,000.

We can only hope that Mr Blair and his delightful family enjoyed their trips, and made full use of the onboard facilities.

The Times says that Tony had expressed a willingness to travel on a commercial flight to Egypt, but such are the dangers in the region – invasion of Iraq and all – that security experts thought it best to get him on something less open to the terrorist element.

And we should be happy Tony travels in comfort. As Denis MacShane, the former minister for Europe – who once took the plane from Brussels to Bournemouth, the party conference venue – says, the RAF-operated vehicles are ‘titchy, shitty little aircraft’. They are an embarrassment to us all. He backs Tony’s call for the creation of the so-called Blair Force One aircraft.

It is shameful that the Prime Minister, his wife and their many children should be forced to make their way to warmer climes on a borrowed jet. They need their own. It is only right.

And they would not be the only ones to use it. As the Times reports, other Labour politicos have taken rides on Her Majesty’s aircraft.

Chancellor Gordon Brown – saviour of the planet with his tax on 4x4s – is said to regularly use the Queen’s Flight for trips to Brussels.

And then there is Margaret Beckett. The Cabinet minister responsible for the environment, a keen caravaner, is one of the “most enthusiastic” users of the Queen’s Flight. The Times says she summons its aircraft to pick her up at her local airport. She has taken 110 flights in three years.

That’s a lot of flying. And it causes damage to the environment. As Beckett said in 2004: “I am advised that, by 2030, in the UK alone, emissions from aircraft could represent a quarter of our total contribution to global warming.”

And that’s just the MPs…’

Posted: 12th, April 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink