August 19, 2010

Blair and his stupid* book

There were reports the other day that Tony Blair is donating all of the proceeds of his book, The Journey, to the British Legion, which is a charity for retired British soldiers. There has been all sorts of speculation as to what his motive in making the donation was, most of which zoom in on his ego. Here are a little crop of letters from yesterday's Independent:
Despite suggestions to the contrary, it is rather doubtful that Tony Blair has decided to donate the earnings from his book to appease his "guilty conscience". As we saw recently at the Chilcot inquiry, he has expressed no regret for joining Bush and Cheney in invading Iraq, and equally he has given no indication that he feels any remorse for the uncounted death-toll and wanton destruction of Iraq as a direct result of his participation in "removing Saddam Hussein".

Within his own pious, self-righteous world it is far more likely that he sees it as simply his duty as a "good Christian" to donate this bonus income to a charity which caters for those who have been injured in the line of duty, in particular during his watch as Prime Minister: no blame, no remorse and no regrets.

And as for those who may see his donation as a cynical way of generating book sales, the answer is quite simple. Rather than buy the book and stroke the smug ego, simply donate an equivalent amount to the Royal British Legion and bypass the middle man.

Peter Coghlan

Broadstone, Dorset

There is a precedent for Mr Blair's charitable decision.

After the Second World War, Barnes Wallis, designer of the Dam Busters' "bouncing bomb", initially declined to apply for a monetary award from the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors. According to his biographer he subsequently changed his mind after hearing a sermon based on II Samuel 23, verses 14-17:

"And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.

"And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well at Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David; nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord.

"And he said, be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?"

Following this, Wallis applied for, and was eventually awarded, an amount which he then used to establish a charitable foundation for the education of children of RAF personnel.

Same principle, different circumstance, different motivation?

Philip Bell

Mayfield, east sussex

On hearing of Blair's generous donation to the British Legion I was reminded of the line from Bob Dylan's "Masters of War": "All the money you've made will never buy back your soul."

Pat Sheerin

London SW18

I have never supported the British involvement in the war in Iraq, but I think that Mr Blair has by his personal donation succeeded in drawing attention to the duty we now owe to the armed forces that have paid so high a price for this war. Certainly the Royal British Legion needs the £4m that Mr Blair has donated from the royalties to be expected from his forthcoming book.

As a former prime minister he will be aware of the magnitude of our duty of care to those who will be physically and mentally impaired for the rest of their days. We shall need a great deal more than £4m to fulfil this duty. Perhaps we can all follow Mr Blair's initiative. And the House of Commons itself, having sanctioned the war, ought to be the first to do so. After all, it tamely and uncritically followed him to war.

Gerald Morgan

Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

Cynics, honestly!

*In case anyone asks, I haven't actually read the book but I like to use the word "stupid" as a substitute for the f-word which I don't like to use in blog posts - family blog and all that....


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