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  1. Politics
16 August 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:14am

The Blair rich project: let the cynical backlash begin

Not everyone is convinced Tony Blair’s motives in donating the profits from his book are altruistic.

By Caroline Crampton

Tony Blair announced today that the profits from his forthcoming memoirs, due out in early September, will go towards building a British Legion rehabilitation centre in the West Midlands.

Negotiations have apparently been taking place between Blair’s people and the British Legion for several months. It has emerged that the donation of the £4.6m and expected royalties is the largest ever donation to be received by the Legion from a private individual.

Whatever Blair’s true motives might be, his actions have been greeted with howls of cynicism from most quarters.

The Stop the War Coalition has been instantly damning in its response, saying:

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The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the pointless death of hundreds of British soldiers and hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians. No amount of money will wash their blood from his hands.

Alex Massie, on his Spectator blog, is similarly sceptical about Blair’s motives, but also highlights that Gordon Brown and several other prominent politicians are expected to publish memoirs soon. Will they feel compelled to follow Blair’s charitable example?

Iain Martin, on his Wall Street Journal blog, is cautiously optimistic about the motives for the donation, and points out that “the destruction of trust continues to dog Blair and colours views of all that he does”.

Jonathan Prynn, in the Evening Standard, offers a straightforward account of the donation, but also includes a very interesting breakdown of Blair’s finances which rather illuminates his decision to part with £5m.

James Kirkup, on his Telegraph blog, seems to stand alone in being willing to give Blair the benefit of the doubt (though John Rentoul hasn’t had his typically pro-Blair say yet). Kirkup pleads:

I suppose it’s too much to ask that people set aside the motive for a second and consider that someone has just announced that they’re giving a very large sum of money to a very good cause?

One final point to make — considering the media fuss today about this donation, what should we expect from Blair’s actual memoirs? Given that Peter Mandelson managed to dominate the front pages for an entire week, Blair, the ultimate master of spin, will surely be looking to do better than that.

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