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Blair’s knighthood must be degraded

28th Jan 2022
Blair’s knighthood must be degraded

On February 15, 2003 over a million and half people marched in London against the prospect of a war in Iraq, marking the largest demonstration in British history.

18 years later after that historic march, over a million people signed a petition to rescind the knighthood awarded to the man held responsible for that war and the subsequent 461,000 deaths it has directly and indirectly caused. In the petition Tony Blair is accused of causing “irreparable damage to both the constitution of the UK and the very fabric of the nation’s society”.

Despite winning three consecutive elections between 1997 and stepping down nearly 15 years ago, Labour’s longest-serving PM, has proved to be a very divisive figure. Many have campaigned for Blair to be put on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Since leaving office in 2007, the enigmatic figure has virtually been in hiding, occasionally reappearing with the aid of sections of the media.

His award in the Queen’s New Year’s Honour is an affront to those killed in Iraq, including the 179 British military personnel. In fact, several furious families of fallen soldiers have vowed to hand back their loved ones’ medals in protest over the knighthood.

“These families have not only had to suffer the devastation of losing a loved one but are now suffering the distress of witnessing the man responsible for their loved-one’s death being publicly honoured,” the petition says. His enthusiasm as a warmonger though goes back to 1999 when he publicly pressured US President Bill Clinton to bomb Serbia. The was the first of six military conflicts he was to become embroiled in.

Adding insult to injury, Blair’s honour as an ‘order of the garter’ is the highest that can be bestowed on a civilian, reserved for the sovereign, the Prince of Wales and only 24 living members.

The only other former prime minister currently listed is Sir John Major. His accomplice, George W Bush, was awarded the highest US civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2011 but has been afraid of leaving the country for fear of being arrested also for war crimes.

The degradation of general knighthood is all too common. The honour has been bestowed on several key players of the 2007-2008 banking crisis, namely, Sir Fred Goodwin, the former Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Sir James Crosby, the former Chief Executive of HBOS.

Over the decades, removals have also encompassed Sir Roger Casement, whose knighthood was cancelled for treason during the First World War, and self-confessed Soviet spy, Sir Anthony Blunt in 1979. Blair needs to be added to such a disreputable list.

(Photo credit: American progress/flickr)

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