UPDATE: on R4’s PM John Rentoul and John Kampfner debate the merits and demerits of Blair’s huge donation. Rentoul, echoing my own thoughts as in the comment reply below also expressed his unhappiness at the BBC using the Stop The War coalition member as if he were mainstream. They are NOT. They are a Trotskyite organisation. The Independent, although Rentoul’s paper, was the leading anti-war paper. It too falls back on the usual suspects to put thir case. Rentoul said this should not be an occasion for rehearsing the antis’ case but we should all welcome the largest single donation to the British Royal Legion in its 89 years existence. Mr Blair himself has made no comment on his donation today. The best policy, imho. Let the haters stew in their own irritation. It suits them.
ROYAL BRITISH LEGION – BLAIR DONATING OVER £4.6M
Reported at Tony Blair Office, and also at the Royal British Legion website, Mr Blair will donate all the proceeds of his book, including the £4.6M advance to the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Challenge Centre.
You can pre-order (at reduced price) Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’ here. Due for release on 2nd September, 201o.
From Tony Blair Office:
The Royal British Legion is pleased to announce Tony Blair will be donating all of the proceeds from his forthcoming memoirs, A Journey, to the Battle Back Challenge Centre, a Legion funded project that will provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services for seriously injured Service personnel.
The Legion has now committed £25m over 10 years to support the MoD’s Personnel Recovery Centre (PRC) programme which was announced earlier this year. The charity’s funding support covers the running of the 4 PRCs and all the capital and civilian running costs of the Battle Back Challenge Centre – a major part of the programme which aims to help seriously injured personnel using sport and outdoor activities to help physical rehabilitation and confidence building. The innovative project will help injured service personnel fulfil their potential and get back to active duty or civilian life.
The Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Challenge Centre is due to open in summer 2012. The Legion expects that most injured personnel who are able to return to active duty will go through the Battle Back Centre as part of their recovery. The Centre, which will be open to personnel across the Armed Forces, will provide accommodation and a state-of-the-art gym and training facility.
Chris Simpkins, Director General of the Royal British Legion, said:
“The Legion is delighted to accept this very generous donation which gives an excellent start to our fundraising target of £12m for the Battle Back Challenge Centre and a total of £25m as our contribution to the provision of the world class service for injured personnel for the next 10 years. The culture of the Centre will very much be about what users of the service can do rather than what they can’t but some of the servicemen and women are likely to need the Legion’s support for the rest of their lives. Mr. Blair’s generosity is much appreciated and will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of hundreds of injured personnel.”
A spokesman for Tony Blair said:
“Tony Blair decided on leaving office that he would donate the proceeds of his memoirs to a charity for the Armed Forces as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice they make for the security of our people and the world. The Royal British Legion is just such a cause.
“In making this decision, Tony Blair recognises the courage and sacrifice the armed forces demonstrate day in, day out. As Prime Minister he witnessed that for himself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone and Kosovo. This is his way of honouring their courage and sacrifice.
“We have been consulting with a number of people and organisations to decide the best support he can give. There is one project consistently highlighted: The Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Challenge Centre.
“As Tony Blair said to the House of Commons on his last day in office:
“‘I believe that they [the Armed Forces] are fighting for the security of this country and the wider world against people who would destroy our way of life. But whatever view people take of my decisions, I think that there is only one view to take of them: they are the bravest and the best.’”
[Pic: Mr Blair recording the audio book version of his memoirs.]
Also reported at The Guardian, by Matthew Taylor
Tony Blair, who led the UK into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to donate the proceeds from his forthcoming memoir to the Royal British Legion.
The book is expected to generate huge interest when it goes on sale on 1 September. Translation rights have been sold in 14 territories.
It is understood that negotiations about the donation have been going on for several months.
Chris Simpkins, the charity’s director general, said he was delighted to accept “this very generous” offer, which he said would help the organisation to hit its £12m fundraising target.
“The culture of the centre will very much be about what users of the service can do rather than what they can’t, but some of the servicemen and women are likely to need the Legion’s support for the rest of their lives. Mr Blair’s generosity is much appreciated and will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of hundreds of injured personnel.”
Blair’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 prompted huge anti-war protests and led to splits within the Labour party amid claims the war was illegal.
Today his spokesman said the former prime minister had always been committed to recognising the role played by the UK’s armed forces.”
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A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”
Tags: a journey, Afghanistan, armed forces, Battle Back Challenge Centre, Blair office, buy A Journey Blair, Chris Simpkins, Iraq, John Kampfner, John Rentoul, Kosovo, memoirs proceeds donated, Northern Ireland, PM, radio 4, Royal British Legion, Sierra Leone, The Independent, Tony Blair, tony blair website