YP Boycott Blair
This plea for a boycott of Tony Blair’s forthcoming memoirs was published in the Yorkshire Post on 1 June 2010
All great enterprises have to start somewhere, and where better than Yorkshire to launch a global boycott of Tony Blair? May I therefore invite other readers to join me in these public pledges?
I will not purchase Tony Blair’s memoirs. We endured Tony Blair’s propaganda for over ten years. We were forced to finance shoals of it as taxpayers. Why shell out to pay for a repeat? In all fairness, Tony Blair should give us all a copy for nothing (as the lamented Enver Hoxha used to hand out his works to the Albanian people).
I will not purchase any newspaper which publishes Tony Blair’s memoirs, nor watch or listen to any broadcast which makes use of them.
I will not purchase any product or service endorsed by Tony Blair, nor enter any transaction with any business which pays him money.
I will not contribute to any good cause with Tony Blair’s name on it. This may seem harsh but good causes should show better taste than to force donors to gaze on Tony Blair’s simpering smile.
The Tony Blair Sports Foundation encourages people to become sports coaches in the North East. It’s a fine cause, but why remind people of all the playing fields and recreational land which disappeared in the Blair years?
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation… If I had any religious faith, I would not wish to associate it with his name. Tony Blair had religion without shame. He loved to hawk his conscience from place to place, but never once took responsibility for error or failure and the suffering which resulted. The Anglican Prayer Book bids worshippers to examine their hearts. Tony Blair frequently and publicly examined his heart, and he always gave it an A Star.
It is probably too late for such a boycott to hit Tony Blair in his well-padded wallet. Most of the deals for his memoirs will be signed. He will earn enough to refurbish all of his tasteless residences, or even purchase another. But a boycott would be a powerful and practical demonstration of public feeling. The memoirs are called The Journey, and in these desperate times it would be a tonic to the nation to see them make a rapid journey to remainder.
The Journey (we are told) will define Tony Blair’s legacy. It is bad enough having to live with that legacy, without having to read about it.
There is the legacy of Iraq: deceit, danger, debt, dishonour and death. The service people who had to fight Tony Blair’s wars on Gordon Brown’s budgets – over-stretched, under-equipped, under-protected, and under-housed and under-provided when they come home: they are part of Tony Blair’s legacy. Will they want to read his memoirs – or use them for target practice?
Collusion in kidnapping, illegal detention and torture: will that be in the memoirs? The servile, supine relationship with George W Bush, and helping him to lie to the American people and get re-elected. There’s another distinguished part of the legacy.
The memoirs will also have to take in the binging bubble-and-bust economy which crashed into ruin, the jobs and businesses wiped out, the families struggling to survive, the young people without work and without hope. The bad bankers enjoying a bottomless bail-out from taxpayers and then hitting them again as their customers: they’re in that legacy. Then there’s the tax and benefits system which lets off the rich, squeezes the middle classes and hammers the poor. Perhaps Tony Blair will leave all these things to Gordon Brown’s memoirs, as he did in government.
He could write about the hospitals which tick boxes and kill patients. Then there’s the English education system with pockets of privilege for the pushy and second-rate standards for everyone else, and the schools full of bored, ignorant pupils and stressed-out teachers. That Blair legacy also includes all the new apparatus of repression and control, and the progressive extinction of personal privacy: a country where more people spy on us than ever before and fewer people listen to us.
Will those memoirs capture Tony Blair’s endless submission and outright grovelling towards anyone with money and power – bankers, media proprietors, multinational corporations? Will they record the endless public appointments of yes-people and friends and cronies, the special treatment and dodgy claims of MPs and peers, the obsession with control over the news agenda and the endless manufacture of truth? Will they celebrate the collapse of trust in government and the entire political system?
These are all compelling reasons to avoid Tony Blair’s memoirs, but there is one which should stand supreme. The most powerful punishment anyone can hand out to that man is to ignore him. Whether he was loved or hated, Tony Blair thrived on attention and importance. He can cope with obloquy but not with oblivion.