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Tony Blair Institute annual turnover up by $40 million

The Tony Blair Institute has enjoyed a bumper year. Credit: Getty

November 28, 2023 - 10:00am

It’s boom time for the Tony Blair Institute. According to its latest accounts, the organisation created and run by the former prime minister to promote “global change” saw its turnover jump by 50% in 2022 — enough to generate a multimillion pound “surplus” for the second year running.

The Tony Blair Institute, or TBI as it is known to everyone who works there, describes itself as a “not-for-profit entity that provides expert advice to political leaders worldwide on strategy, policy and delivery, unlocking the power of technology across all three”. To some of those on the inside it is, in effect, a “McKinsey for world leaders”, a consultancy advising governments how to govern (often for a hefty fee). 

While there are arms of the TBI, including a think tank, it is this side of the organisation which has gone into overdrive following the appointment of former Justin Trudeau adviser and McKinsey veteran Mike McNair as the TBI’s Global Managing Director in April 2022.

The figures are contained in the not-for-profit’s accounts for the 2022 calendar year. They show turnover up from $81,286,000 in 2021 to $121,250,000 last year, a $40 million increase amounting to a 49% jump.

While turnover has risen, so too have the TBI’s overheads — with “group expenditure” growing by 56% and staff numbers up 53%. Despite the increase in expenditure, however, the Institute managed to maintain a “surplus” (rather than profit) of $16.8 million, slightly down from the $17 million the previous year. As such, the TBI paid $6.5 million in tax last year. 

Buried in the accounts included the figure of $448,000 paid in redundancy costs during the year — evidence, perhaps, of the extent to which the organisation has restructured itself over the past year, shifting its focus towards tech-heavy government consultancy under the leadership of McNair.

Aside from McNair the other three directors who sit on the board with Blair all have connections to American tech giants: the public relations executive David-John Collins, formerly of Google; Awo Ablo, who sits on Oracle’s board of directors; Chris Yiu, who is a senior figure at Meta, the company that owns Facebook. Two months ago, the Institute also hired former Finnish PM Sanna Marin, who is joining as a “strategic counsellor”.

While Blair himself does not take a salary from the Institute, the other four directors of the TBI were paid a total of $1,114,000 last year — up from $861,000 the year before. The highest paid director earned $662,000, a jump of more than $150,000 from the $504,000 that was the highest salary the year before. The highest paid director also received $11,000 in pension contributions.

As I detailed in my investigation into the TBI published earlier this year, the TBI receives much of its income in donations from plutocratic philanthropists in California, most notably Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Bill Gates, but also the Anne Wojcicki Foundation, set up by Anne Wojcicki, the American “genomics” entrepreneur who married the Google co-founder Sergey Brin in 2007.

While Blair is fixated on the possibilities of tech to transform health and governance, it is these tie-ups with billionaire businessmen and women which have raised eyebrows among many who believe they blur the lines between philanthropy, influence, power and commercial opportunity in ways that not everyone who has worked for the TBI has felt comfortable.

Still, this is now the centre of what the TBI does, offering “tech-related support” to governments throughout the world — sometimes for profit, sometimes not. As the TBI grows ever more influential in world affairs, it will surely be these partnerships with American tech giants which come under ever greater scrutiny.


is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

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Peter B
Peter B
4 months ago

Just what sort of “not for profit” pays its 4 directors over $1m a year (the highest paid one made $662K) ? And generates a “surplus” (profit) of $17m ?
A profit of $17m on a turnover of $121m is an almost 15% margin. That doesn’t happen by accident and suggests this business is actually being run for profit.
What is curious here is that the institute is registered in London (as are its accountants), yet the financial reporting is in US$.
Of the $6.5m taxes, $3.7m were paid in the UK and $2.8m somewhere overseas. Not clear why these were not all paid in the UK.
From the accounts:
“The financial statements are presented in US Dollars which has been determined as the functional currency of the Group. ”
Finally this:
“CONTROLLING PARTY The Group and Company is controlled by ACL Blair, being the only subscribing member of the Company”
Wholly owned by Blair. I guess that includes all the “surpluses”. Quelle surprise !

N Satori
NS
N Satori
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

To paraphrase an old saying about the Scots:
“There are few more impressive sights than a [Socialist] on the make”

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

You think Tony Blair is a Socialist?!?!?
That’s dumb even for you!

N Satori
NS
N Satori
4 months ago

So you’re still trying to pass yourself off as a politically astute Lefty [stop laughing at the back]. And that “Champagne” moniker – who are you kidding? All your comments bear the unmistakable yobbish tone of a bog standard state education – more beer’n’farts than champagne surely.
OK brains, your turn …

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

You feel better after that, fella?

N Satori
NS
N Satori
4 months ago

Truly feeble response. A lame attempt at a snappy rejoinder perhaps? Not exactly Oscar Wilde is it?
Word of advice: if you want to be an effective heckler your comments need to be sharp pithy and (if you can manage it, witty). Sadly, at the moment you sound like a football yobbo jeering at a rival team’s supporters.
Now, try again…

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The Tony Blair Institute is controlled by Tony Blair?!?!?
This is a disgrace!!! Have you informed the authorities of this scandal?!?
LOL! You people are really hilarious!

Peter B
PB
Peter B
4 months ago

You claim you read the comments. But it doesn’t seem you were paying much attention when you did so.
You might want to ask yourself why a “non-profit” organisation (that’s more or less a charity) is 100% owned by an individual and at the same time intentionally generating large cash surpluses (statistically impossible this is accidental – and these surpluses could also have been donated to charity if they were not needed – quite easy to become a real non-profit by doing that).
I’m fairly sure you’d be asking those same questions if it were a Tory politician doing the same thing. And quite rightly so.
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that Blair’s behaviour here has been – to use your phrase “crooked”. I’m sure it’s all quite legal. I just happen to find it immoral and unethical. Which would apply to anyone from any political background who did something like this.
You might also want to think about how rigourously money laundering regulations have been applied to donations from places like Kazakhstan.
I don’t hate Blair. How could I since I don’t know the man. I just despise him for his behaviour and what he’d done to our country. And his blatant “third way” hypocrisy – a man who’s out to prove that one can serve both God and mammon.

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

You don’t hate Blair, you just despise him?
You may wish to rethink that one, old boy!
As for the rest of your word salad, please come back to me when you have decided what you are annoyed about except for the fact of Tony Blair’s existence and his success. What you find “immoral and unethical” is of little interest to anyone.

Simon Neale
SN
Simon Neale
4 months ago

provides expert advice to political leaders worldwide on strategy, policy and delivery

Blair’s an expert, is he? He managed to strategise and deliver on the bad stuff – starting wars, destabilising populations, thwarting the political ambitions of erstwhile friends, and undertaking constitutional reform with the aplomb of a blind surgeon with a sledgehammer. But his attempts to make positive changes in the NHS, Social Care, and other bread-and-butter departmental issues were well below average. For those who haven’t read it, Tom Bower’s political biography is an eye-opener. Blair’s administration grasped the levers of power, only to find that they weren’t connected to anything.

Right-Wing Hippie
RH
Right-Wing Hippie
4 months ago

“not-for-profit entity that provides expert advice to political leaders worldwide on strategy, policy and delivery, unlocking the power of technology across all three”
So it’s a buzzword delivery system. Got it.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago

You can see the evil he has done etched on his face like a latter day Dorian Gray

Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Ya. I need Tony Blair and company for tech support. The whole thing smells stinky. He’s probably being paid for access to all the right people.

Paul Curtin
PC
Paul Curtin
4 months ago

Tony, Mendelson and Campbell have done very nicely since vacating no.10.
Noses pressed firmly into the trough no doubt.

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul Curtin

Its called working hard and being successful.
You might want to try it…

Peter B
PB
Peter B
4 months ago

Quite sure it isn’t crony capitalism ?

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes.
I refer you to Boris “Bunter” Johnson for crony capiltalism.

Right-Wing Hippie
RH
Right-Wing Hippie
4 months ago

What do working hard and being successful have to do with each other? Shouldn’t it be, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”?

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago

“What do working hard and being successful have to do with each other? ”
The fact that you don’t know this explains your lack of success.
“Shouldn’t it be, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”?”
You obviously have no clue what that means.
You want to try again, sport?

Right-Wing Hippie
RH
Right-Wing Hippie
4 months ago

I don’t know, I’ve never been particularly good at sports.

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago

Or reading comprehension apparently!

Right-Wing Hippie
RH
Right-Wing Hippie
4 months ago

Stop using such big words!

Chipoko
C
Chipoko
4 months ago

No doubt he modelled his profitable charity on the similar mechanism established by Bill and Hilary Clinton. They’re all the same, these people! Just awful!

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago
Reply to  Chipoko

How much did you donate to the Trump foundation so that fat grifter could buy hideous portraits of himself?
Money well spent? LOL!

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
4 months ago

Blair’s a believer apparantly; his account before the Almighty will be interesting.

Susan Grabston
SG
Susan Grabston
4 months ago

Larry Ellison will do that for you.

j watson
JW
j watson
4 months ago

Welcome the scrutiny on TBI. Probably helps it medium term address potential deficiencies and governance mistakes, including the message Exec salaries can give. Sunlight always beneficial.
Of course though this is hardly unique. In other News today the Koch Network in the US just come out for Nikki Haley. The fact that’s news is because the power of such donor networks is immense and much more prevalent on the Right, at least in the US. Of course who in the UK would back the Tories now, or the Reform jokers, a separate issue, but one wonders if Unherd should do a piece on Tufton St, the funding behind the various Right Wing Think Tanks etc- given it’s role in leading us to the current nirvana in which we all exist!. We’ll see won’t we how pluralist Unherd is on this matter.
The Koch network is deploying c£50-60m in campaign funding. The TBI doesn’t do that and it is certainly less in the shadows than likes of the Koch network. It looks for influence in other ways undoubtedly.

jane baker
JB
jane baker
4 months ago

The Anti-Christ.

Champagne Socialist
CS
Champagne Socialist
4 months ago

Ah! A new target for today’s Unherd 2 minutes hate!
I see no one can actually articulate an reason for your insane derangement towards Blair – you just hate him and that’s it.
I do find it highly amusing when Trump worshippers and Boris Johnson fanatics suggest that anyone else might be slightly crooked in their business dealings!!!

Adrian Clark
AC
Adrian Clark
4 months ago

Would disdain for Blair, Trump and Johnson meet your mark?

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
4 months ago

Ah, ACL Blair – ‘..a pretty straight sort of a guy…’ He called a press conference to tell us he was. Who TF does that?

Lesley Keay
LK
Lesley Keay
4 months ago

I don’t hate Blair. I do however have issue with many of the policies which were introduced whilst he was in Government and which are causing serious issues in present day UK. Devolution being one such problems. The changes to the British (unwritten) constitution and introduction of the Human Rights Act. We managed to survive quite well as a nation without the HRA.

j watson
j watson
4 months ago
Reply to  Lesley Keay

What’s less clear is why 13yrs of Tory rule hasn’t led to these issues being addressed? Is that because they actually agree with them but can’t admit that? Or is it incompetence and despite being in power couldn’t get organised enough to make such changes?
I think fine to blame Blair if he’d left office a couple of years ago. He left 16yrs ago. It’s somewhat snowflakey to be blaming someone that far in the past isn’t it?
Now I know the retort might be Blairism created some conspiratorial Blob that has prevented such changes. I should confess I no more believe that than I believe in the tooth fairy and others should be the same if they want to be credible.