Citing his role in the Iraq War and other devastating conflicts, hundreds of thousands of people in the United Kingdom and beyond are calling for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be stripped of his newly bestowed knighthood.
As of Thursday afternoon, over 900,000 people had signed the Change.org petition seeking to have Blair’s "Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter" – one of the highest honors a British monarch can bestow upon a subject – rescinded. As of Friday it hit one million signatures. Queen Elizabeth II announced Blair’s knighthood on New Year’s Eve.
Petition to revoke Tony Blair’s knighthood hits 1m signatures/Labor MP Burgon:”Says a lot about what’s wrong w/our system when 1 of leading architects of Iraq war..is honoured ..while Assange, who exposed war crimes,faces extradition & lifetime in prison.” https://t.co/yeP4wOig5w— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) January 8, 2022
"Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the Constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society," the petition states. "He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes."
"Tony Blair is the least deserving person of any public honor, particularly anything awarded by Her Majesty the Queen," the petition asserts.
Blair also sent thousands of troops to fight in the U.S.-led coalition war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, a conflict in which over 200,000 people were killed and millions more were displaced. Last August, as U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan after 20 years of war and occupation, Blair blasted what he called the "tragic, dangerous, unnecessary" American "abandonment" of the country.
In addition to facing intense criticism for Britain's involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and for backing brutal dictatorships around the world, Blair was also condemned for joining the devastating 1999 NATO air war against Yugoslavia. Echoing then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, Blair listed one of the main reasons for the bombing campaign—which targeted civilian infrastructure, killing hundreds of men, women, and children—as protecting NATO's "credibility."
According to a January YouGov poll, only 14% of Britons approve of Blair's knighthood, with 79% of Conservatives and 56% of supporters of the former prime minister's own Labour Party opposing the move.
Do Britons approve of Tony Blair being given a knighthood?— YouGov (@YouGov) January 4, 2022
Approve 14% / Disapprove 63%
Approve 21% / Disapprove 56%
Approve 10% / Disapprove 79%https://t.co/m6rdgLa7sb pic.twitter.com/o5hX1YFXM4
"The contempt in which Britain's elite holds the public has never been more eloquently expressed than in the decision to award Tony Blair the highest order of knighthood," Australian journalist John Pilger tweeted earlier this week, sardonically adding, "Rise, Sir Tony!"