Blair giving the money from his memoirs to the British legion is ‘blood money’
Tony Blair’s is expected to make millions from his memoirs, however he has decided that he is going to donate all the money he makes from them to the British legion who look after wounded soldiers. Many will think this is evidence of a guilty conscience in someone who has so far been unwilling to admit that Britain and the US were wrong to invade Iraq. However some have gone one step further and declared the money is ‘blood money’ due to the casualties caused by the invasion of Iraq and war in Afghanistan. So they are arguing that such money should not be accepted.
You can also add to the debate by leaving your comment at the end of the page.
Blair committed British forces to military action 5 times whilst in office
More than 500 British troops were killed during Blair's time in office, including 179 in Iraq and 331 in Afghanistan. Hundreds more have been left psychologically scared and physically damaged.
Blair went to war with Iraq, claiming that their leader at the time, Saddam Hussein, was harbouring 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'. However it has now been revealed that no such nuclear weapons existed, so many believe that troops died needlessly.
Evidence given at the Iraq Inquiry also showed that Blair went to war without approval from the UN, constituting a 'crime of aggression' in international law and that he had been warned against doing so by every senior legal advisor in the Foreign Office. Newly-declassified Government documents show that Attorney General Lord Goldsmith was initially clear that there was no sufficient legal basis for military action. He later succumbed to pressure from Blair and the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and ruled that the conflict was 'legal'.
Blair has received repeated accusations that he did not properly fund British troops in battle
Critics of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have said that troops were not given proper funding by the British Government, resulting in poor equipment. Families of soldiers have also come forward to claim that they were forced into battle under supplied and that this may have contributed to the number of casualties.
The donation could be a PR stunt to try and help improve Blair's damaged reputation
Blair has been widely criticised for leading Britain in to war with Iraq and Afghanistan and poles printed in February this year show that over a third of British voters think that he should stand trial for Iraq. He refused to show any regret for the Iraq War at the Chilcot enquiry and this has resulted in him losing further popularity, particularly with the families of those who have been killed or injured.
Since leaving office, Blair has amassed a fortune which some say is as high as £60 million and he still faces criticism that he failed to properly fund British troops during conflict. Of his personal wealth, he has always refused to give an exact total. With that in mind, it is difficult to say how much he may have given to charity before, but he has given this donation so publicly, it is almost impossible to say that he isn't using it for PR at all.
He could be trying to assuage his guilty concience
After the number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blair could be using the donation as a way to cleanse his guilty conscience and to say sorry to the soldiers. Blair converted from Church of England to Catholicism three years ago after persuasion from his wife Cherie, so some believe that giving the money may be his way of seeking forgiveness for the wars.
David Kelly is another victim of the Iraq War. Does Blair also feel guilt for his death?
David Kelly was a scientist, expert in biological warfare and UN weapons inspector who caused political scandal in 2003, after an off the record conversation he had with BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan about the British Government's dossier on weapons of mass destruction. Kelly's name was leaked as being Gilligan's source and he was summoned to appear before the parliamentary foreign affairs select committee, where he was questioned aggressively. Two days later he was found dead. Instead of conducting the usual police inquest, Blair set up the Hutton inquiry to investigate Kelly's death, which concluded that he had committed suicide. Lord Hutton also decided controversially that all evidence should remain classified for 70 years.
Many believe that David Kelly did not commit suicide and that he was in fact murdered so that he could not reveal any further information about the lack of weapons. If he had, it could have been as a result of the aggression and public humiliation that he received. At any rate, it has since been proven that there were never any weapons of mass destruction, so he was correct.
A group of prominent legal experts have recently called for there to be an inquest into his death, stating in a letter to the Times that the official cause of death – haemorrhage from the severed artery – was "extremely unlikely". It has also emerged that Kelly's name was on an Iraq hit list.
The donation is being given to a good cause
Whichever way you look at it and whatever his motivations, Blair is giving the money to a very good cause. Maybe we should forget our cynicism for a moment and take his actions at face value?
What is Blair's true nature?
For those of us who have not met Tony Blair, it is difficult to assess the true motivations behind this generous donation. It is difficult to ignore the critical view projected by the media, but perhaps his Sedgefield agent is correct in saying that it is 'typical of the man' and that he never went into politics for the money.
The argument is irrelevant.
The idea that the donation is blood money assumes (if it is) that the donation was to put a guilty mind at peace. Yet the motivation of Blair in donating money is irrelevant. Charities must be careful not to take donations of ill-gotten money or is from a person who opposes the position or spirit of the charity. This money is legitimately earned and the character of Blair is not in question (even if his decisions are). People give to charities for all kinds of reasons: some may give to a cancer charity because a parent died of cancer; some may give to a dog's home because they love dogs; some may take little interest in the world but give to a charity just to 'give something back'. Blair's motives are irrelevant - the money is legitimate and it is going to a good cause.
Making the donation does not restore justice
The donation is blood money it if is paid to make amends for an injustice. Any injustice on the troops from the decisions to go to war in Iraq cannot be redeemed through a donation. The donation may improve the lives of some troops who suffered the injustice of going to unjust war. Yet the original injustice of an unjust decision to wage the war remains.
What do you think?