Tony Blair, the former Labour Party leader who was Prime Minister for 10 years (1997 – 2007), was ennobled this weekend, courtesy of the Queen. Sir Tony, rather than Sir Anthony, as he is now known, has been made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, 14 years after leaving Downing Street.
But the honour has been criticised by Blair’s political opponents and those who argue the legacy of his invasion of Iraq in 2003 makes him unsuitable. As to be expected, the political establishment have rallied around and supported his knighthood as a “a fitting tribute”.
Unfortunately for ‘Sir Tony’, the media has erupted with fury over the issue. A petition on change.org to have his “Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter” rescinded has reached nearly 300,000 signatures (at the time of writing). If it reaches 300k it will become one of the most signed on change.org ever.
It was the Blair Government that decided to open up Britain’s borders to make the country more multi-racial. According to Andrew Neather, a previously unheard-of speechwriter for Blair, Straw and Blunkett, popped up with an article in the Evening Standard in October 2009 which gave the game away.
Immigration, he wrote, ‘didn’t just happen; the deliberate policy of Ministers from late 2000… was to open up the UK to mass immigration’.
He was at the heart of policy in September 2001, drafting the landmark speech by the then Immigration Minister Barbara Roche, and he reported ‘coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’. We all know the consequences of that policy.
Reaction in the media
Military mothers have described Tony Blair’s knighthood as the ‘ultimate insult’ while social media users have branded the former-Prime Minister a war criminal.
The mothers, who lost their children in Afghanistan, have spoken out against Sir Tony’s knighthood and have threatened to return Elizabeth Crosses which are given to bereaved families to show their disgust.
One military mother, Carol Valentine, told the Mirror that Sir Tony’s knighthood is the ‘ultimate insult’, after her son Simon was killed while he cleared land mines in Afghanistan in 2009.
And Hazel Hunt, whose son Richard died in Afghanistan, was pondering sending back the Elizabeth Cross that her family had received as a mark of protest.
Another military mother, Caroline Whitaker, who lost son Gareth after he was shot dead by an Afghanistan police officer in 2012 said she felt the establishment was ‘making a mockery’ of hers and other children’s deaths.
On Twitter, many made their feelings clear following the ennobling. Political commentator Liam Young wrote: ‘The man should be in the dock of The Hague. What a shameful day.’
Another said: ‘The contempt in which Britain’s elite holds the public has never been more eloquently expressed than in the decision to award Tony Blair the highest order of knighthood. One million Iraqis dead, three million dispossessed, a trail of blood to 7/7. Rise Sir Tony!’
Blair has faced years of criticism over the Iraq War, culminating in the devastating report by Sir John Chilcot in 2016, which found that the former prime minister overplayed evidence about Saddam Hussein’s weaponry and ignored peaceful means to send troops into the country.
In a devastating set of conclusions, Sir John found Blair presented the case for war with ‘a certainty which was not justified’ based on ‘flawed’ intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
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