Blair lands lucrative hedge fund deal

Tony Blair is reported to have signed a six-figure contract with Lansdowne Partners to deliver four

The former prime minister will offer hedge fund's executives a macro view about international geo-political situation and future trends.

According to some reports, Blair will be paid over £200,000 by Lansdowne Partners for delivering the speeches.

A spokesman for Blair said: "Mr Blair remains one of the most popular international speakers around. These talks for Lansdowne were organised by the Washington Speakers Bureau in the usual way. Mr Blair has not taken a job with Lansdowne Partners."

Mayfair-based Lansdowne Partners is one the City's biggest hedge funds, taking care of about $16bn of investments.

The fund profited from Britain's recent banking crisis by sensing in advance that bank shares would fall drastically. It is believed to have made hundreds of millions of pounds by short-selling them. The company also successfully bet on the collapse of Northern Rock.

Blair is one of the highest paid speakers on the international lecture circuit, commanding up to £150,000 for a single lecture. He has reportedly earned around £14 million since he stepped down as prime minister.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.