BY FRANK HAVILAND
On the subject of Tony Blair’s knighthood, I feel it is important to disclose an interest: I loathe Tony Blair. Incidentally, I dislike Lewis Hamilton and everything he kneels for, but opposing his knighthood would never cross my mind; even if it is for playing Scalextric.
No, there is something particularly sinister about our Anthony – which is why there is currently a petition, requesting his appointment to the Order of the Garter be suspended; a petition attested by 757,313 individuals as we speak.
But before we get our knickers quite so smugly-twisted over the Honours System, we must first acknowledge that it is almost entirely corrupt. Indeed, it is only recently that the sale of peerages was made illegal; a fact clearly lamented by incoming Prime Ministers.
What were the odds that four wealthy businessmen who lent the Labour Party £5M would be nominated for peerages by Tony Blair? Why was David Cameron accused of cronyism, on the specious pretext that he awarded honours to 50 close aides and Conservative donors? And how could Prince Charles know anything about the CBE given to Saudi billionaire, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, in exchange for payments to his charities?
There is however, an honourable side to the Honours System:
The last four words are the only ones I recognise in terms of honours, and it is in terms of ‘service to the country’ where I believe Blair is utterly bereft of merit. No matter how decorated his political career has been, Blair has rarely been in the service of Britain, while often in the service of its enemies.
That is precisely why I have less truck with the regular argument against Blair’s elevation – the Iraq War. Of course, this is no small thing. The 2016 Iraq inquiry concluded that Blair presented the case for war with ‘a certainty which was not justified ‘based on ‘flawed’ intelligence on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction’ – which is a nice way of saying he lied. This was corroborated by then Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, who recently confirmed he was instructed to burn a secret memo admitting the Iraq War could be illegal.
So yes, we know Blair is a liar, and we know he is immoral – sound qualifications for PM. If this is your principle objection to Blair however, I’d like you to find me an honest politician. I’d also begrudgingly concede that Britain’s involvement in Iraq could be considered in the British interest, even if sucking up to America sticks in the craw somewhat.
No, it’s not the lying that does it for me – it’s the betrayal of the British people, which Blair has proven consistently to be his modus operandi. According to Tom Bower in Broken Vows, Blair presided over a silent conspiracy to change the face of Britain forever with mass immigration; as Blair’s former speech writer, Andrew Neather put it: to ‘rub the right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.
During the Blair years, two million asylum seekers were brought to Britain against the rules by posing as economic migrants. Barbara Roche, Immigration Minister from 1999-2001 admitted, ‘Asylum seekers should be allowed to stay in Britain. Removal takes too long and it’s emotional.’
It is important to note here the contempt Blair has for the public, which is nothing short of breath-taking. While the main aim of allowing in millions of people was to make the country ‘see the benefit of a multicultural society’, Blair instructed ministers and officials not to mention this:
Blair’s multicultural experiment has transformed communities irreparably, damaged race-relations, sown division, and inevitably utterly failed. The public, of course, were never consulted.
And then there’s the EU. Only a politician of Blair’s calibre could sit smugly as President of the European Council, and announce he had handed back £7Bn of Britain’s rebate for absolutely nothing in return. When quizzed by Nigel Farage as to why he had done so, Blair only deigned to respond, ‘Our future lies in Europe’ (by which, he obviously meant ‘my’).
Then of course, there’s the contempt shown to our armed forces – those most deserving of any such honours for service. Tony Blair’s decision to grant ‘Letters of Comfort’ to approximately 300 alleged IRA terrorists – which in effect means that they could never be prosecuted, is shameful considering UK veterans are still facing prosecution for their involvement in The Troubles.
In fact Tony Blair is held in such disgrace by the armed forces, that many families of those killed in Iraq have promised to return their military honours if his knighthood is not rescinded.
The arguments for Blair’s elevation meanwhile are flimsy at best. ‘A matter for Her Majesty’ notes the PM’s official spokesman, which hardly explains the 14-year rumination. ‘Every former PM has received it’ – which makes it a perk of the job, not an award. ‘It is one of the toughest jobs in the world’, opines Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle – now tell that to weapons inspectors.
Even the Blairite faithful cannot be counted upon to support the move, which is why YouGov’s January 4th poll shows just 14% of Brits approve of the knighthood, with 63% disapproving. Even amongst Labour voters, the numbers are a desultory 21-56%.
Surely, the absolute minimum requirement for Britain’s highest honours must be that you love your country, rather than perceive her as a vehicle for your own personal advancement? I suspect the crowning nail in the Blair coffin, is that he is anti-British – and the people know it.
The petition to rescind Blair’s award will likely come to nothing, but it’s still going strong – currently up to 989,173. I’m curious what will happen when there are 17,410,742 signatories, presumably Blair will tell us we didn’t know what we were opposing in the first place?