Blair and Campbell haunt Starmer’s Albania visit
The New Labour pair have long lent their services to the country
Sir Keir Starmer is to travel to France and Albania in a bid to show voters that he would “clean up the utter mess” of illegal migration, “created by the British Government”. An ally told The Times that “we need to demonstrate that we are as keen as the government to stop the boats — the difference is competence.”
Starmer’s visit to Albania, a country from where many of those heading across the Channel appear to be economic migrants, will be heavily trailed and choreographed. Of interest might be the identities of those who are doing the trailing and choreography for both the Labour leader and the Left-leaning Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama.
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It is quite conceivable that both former prime minister Tony Blair and his one time director of communications Alastair Campbell, who have long lent their services to the Albanians, may have a hand in the speeches for Starmer and Rama. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to learn that they came up with the whole Starmer-Albania caper in the first place.
After all, Blair was appointed a ‘special adviser’ to an Albanian government seeking EU membership back in 2013, while Campbell can claim some credit in helping Rama, a New Labour fan, get elected around the same time. Last year he was even rumoured to have advised Rama respond strongly to Home Secretary Suella Braverman for her comments on Albanian migrants entering the country.
And in 2016, the Blair relationship with Albania’s Government became a rather touching family affair when it was revealed that Cherie Blair’s law firm had been paid nearly half a million pounds for legal advice by the government of Albania. Here, Omnia Strategy earned a fee of £493,000 for acting as Albania’s official adviser in a legal dispute with a British scanning company.
So the exact nature of Tony Blair’s work for the Albanians has remained starkly unclear, with advice apparently being offered via the ‘Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’. If this work were pro bono, doubtless we would know about it.
Meanwhile, in between bobbing up and down as a splenetic commentator and podcaster, Campbell has also been on the books of lobbying and PR agency Portland Communications, which was founded in 2001 by Tim Allan, a former adviser to Tony Blair. Portland works for a number of foreign governments, big businesses & blue-chip clients. It must be great to help engineer events and then write glowingly about them afterwards.
Yet the truth about Albania isn’t quite so rosy. As a former journalist on The Mirror and the now defunct Today newspaper, what would Campbell have to say about this reported case, for instance: “In July, the prime minister banned a journalist for three months from participating in his press conferences, saying that he should be sent for ‘re-education’ and accusing him of unethical behaviour”?
The reality is that there is a migrant problem with Albania: in 2020, 50 Albanians arrived on small boats. In 2022, that figure was 12,301, which accounted for 28% of all small boat arrivals. Quite whether Starmer is ‘competent’ enough to deal with this issue, should he be elected prime minister, remains to be seen. Given the ties between the Albanian government and former party luminaries, though, we shouldn’t hold our breath.
Are we really supposed to believe that Starmer has genuinely abandoned the open borders ideology that he has professed for most of his adult life? Seems unlikely.
A more plausible explanation is that he is just as unprincipled and opportunistic as his grubby, war-mongering mentors.
All he wants to do is bring in more Muslim rape gangs
Starmer will not stop the small boats. He might get on a bit better with Rama but the thing is, until Rama can make his country into a place where people actually want to stay then they will keep leaving.
The most powerful argument to raise against Albania, an EU candidate country since 2014, is that the large numbers of people still pouring out of the country illegally immigrating and seeking asylum elsewhere is not exactly a sign that it is ready for EU accession. EU leaders simply can’t sell that to their own electorates.
But the people who can make that argument and put Rama under pressure are the big cheeses from the EU, not Starmer. The idea that he is going to “sort out the utter mess” is laughable, the problem is many times bigger than he is.
I wouldn’t trust Starmer to sort out a whelk stall. He wasn’t exactly as shining beacon of efficiency as Solicitor General was he?
I think you mean DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions). But you make a good point. I wouldn’t either.
Doesn’t working for a foreign government at odds with a British Government have a name? Can’t remember what that is though.
And yet it has just been announced that since the deportation deal with Albania the number of small boat landings has plummeted year on year, apparently attributable to the collapse in demand from Albania. Starmer is crafting a solid record of being off the pace on every issue.
As Hashim Thaçi finally goes on trial, what we have seen in Saint Petersburg has been a top-of-the-range act of professional terrorism by and on behalf of Volodymyr Zelensky and Alexei Navalny.It makes no difference to us which country Soledar or Bakhmut should be in, or which of the Azov Battalion and the Wagner Group won a war. We owe neither Zelensky nor Navalny anything at all. Yet we insist on behaving as if we did. As we did with Thaçi. Think on.
Desperate attempt to link illegal economic migration with the current Govt’s main political rival. More of this inevitable over next 12-20mths in lead up to a GE.
Boats could have been stopped, or at least significantly reduced, some time ago if UK had an adult conversation about ID cards, rapid processing, deals with ‘returnee countries, and potentially other routes for application/consideration.
France is a safe country but has ID requirements. UK doesn’t so easier to slip off the radar and into black market economy. Big driver for why more want to come here. But if you are a Tory right now you don’t want to admit all the things you could/should have been doing last 13yrs. You want to maximise the opportunity to pin the ‘fear’ on your rival. An old Playbook but in desperation going to be used without any conscience and supported by a good number of right wing media institutions.
Your comment reads like the now routine attempt link the problem of illegal economic migration to 13 years of Conservative government. Yet I am having difficulty imagining a Labour government doing a better job of controlling our borders – or even having the will to do so.
Still, with a GE inevitable in the next 12-20 months, we can expect plenty more of this “The Tories had 13 years to fix it” mantra.
What we will not get plenty of is that adult conversation you claim you want. The practicalities will be side-lined by an emotion-driven moral debate – dominated as ever by those perennial ‘useful idiots’ the mindless do-gooders. Such is the compulsion to be seen as caring and compassionate that even those people who talk tough on border control claim to be concerned about the poor migrants exploited by ‘criminal gangs of people smugglers’.
Imbalanced NS. You lambast the ‘do-gooders’, whoever they are, and ignore the fact vast majority of us just want some good practical delivery instead of all the ‘red meat’, demonising etc nonsense we’ve had for a number of years now whilst illegal migration increased. I actually increasingly think folks like yourself don’t want the problem solved because you continually prefer to recycle the ‘fear’. It’s only thing that seems to explain the failure to insist on practical deliverable policies.
As regards whether a Lab Govt would do better, they’d have to go some to do worse. But I’m sure they are v mindful of the corner into which some wanted them backed.
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