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Gordon ‘goodie two-shoes’ Brown has adopted a new golden rule: there’s no hypocrisy in cosying up to dictatorships while preaching about how to make the world a better place.
Lately, the former Labour Prime Minister has been popping up all over the place playing the elder statesman and promoting his latest book, Seven Ways To Change The World.
Brown, we are told in the blurb, is concerned about ‘environmental damage, climate change, poverty, health, barriers to education and opportunity and global inequality’.
So, it might be expected that Azerbaijan – an oil and gas-rich kleptocracy that has all these issues – would get a mention in the book.
Gordon ‘goodie two-shoes’ Brown has adopted a new golden rule: there’s no hypocrisy in cosying up to dictatorships while preaching about how to make the world a better place
Especially as Brown has been a guest of Ilham Aliyev, the strongman who’s run the former Soviet republic since taking over from his dad following an ‘election’ in 2003.
But, no – not a peep in the book about his Baku friends.
Last week, Azerbaijan’s president renewed his friendship vows with Vladimir Putin, and in February – when Ukraine was invaded – signed a treaty with him on ‘allied cooperation’. That didn’t stop Brown, 71, appearing as a guest of honour at Aliyev’s ‘Baku Forum’ in June, where he was given a special award.
The ex-PM, seen as the conscience of the Labour Party, began his acceptance speech with a fawning thank-you to Aliyev for his ‘leadership and humanity’. Aye, right, big man.
Is that the humanity often found in dynastic dictatorships, the torture of and snooping on political opponents and the funnelling of millions by cronies through London’s laundromat, some of which was used to whitewash its international image?
Last week, Azerbaijan’s president renewed his friendship vows with Vladimir Putin, and in February – when Ukraine was invaded – signed a treaty with him on ‘allied cooperation’
Not completely glossing over the invasion, and in the presence of another guest of honour, Russia’s ambassador-at-large, Brown murmured that ‘invading armies… will never conquer the hearts and minds of Ukraine’ – something the former PM will know about from his experience in Iraq.
This minor rebuke to Putin was in stark contrast to the previous year’s summit in the Azerbaijani capital, when Brown quoted Russian leaders talking about a ‘global community’.
Last night Brown, who normally says he gives his appearance fees to charity, declined to say if and how much he has been paid for attending Aliyev’s conferences, or comment on the – apparent – hypocrisy of lending his reputation to prop up such a regime, which is also in bed with BP in developing huge oil and gas fields.
Tackling climate change may well be one of the Seven Ways To Change The World. But I offer some smaller steps Brown could also take: Don’t whitewash dictators. Don’t take trophies from them. Don’t support blood oil money. And don’t lend your name to Putin enablers. Simples.
A year since that CCTV video led to his defenestration as husband and Health Secretary, Matt Hancock is enjoying life.
Just in the last week, he hit the dancefloor of a student club in Oxford and took his girlfriend Gina Coladangelo to an Ed Sheeran gig at Wembley.
How handy that Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, his aide when he was Culture Secretary, is now chief executive of industry body UK Music and could also magic tickets for his former boss to be at the sold-out concert by Adele in London’s Hyde Park last Friday night.
Mrs Sunak’s in & out
There was a rare sighting of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy rubbing shoulders with Tory donors at a glitzy farewell bash for India’s High Commissioner.
The Indian-born billionaire heiress (pictured, second right, at the bash), who gave up her non-dom tax status in April, has one foot out of Britain, much like her husband, who kept his US green card while running Britain’s economy (into the ground).
And the venue for last Tuesday’s soiree? London’s ‘In & Out Club’. A bit like the Sunaks, then.