9 Mar, 2017
Tony Blair arrives in Baghdad, 19 May 2007 © Stefan Rousseau / Reuters
His invite to the event at London’s Victoria Embankment Gardens, while predictable, has led to a backlash.
In some veterans’ forums on Facebook there were outpourings of rage.
Tony Blair has arrived at the Iraq Afghan memorial service. That will anger a lot of the bereaved families: pic.twitter.com/2MVuzh17Al
— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) March 9, 2017
One user said Blair’s appearance is “AN INSULT TO ALL WHO DIED!” while several others branded the former PM a traitor.Other individuals said he should “hang his head in shame.”
Iraq and Afghanistan memorial being unveiled today. Is it me, or does this soldier look remarkably like Tony Blair? pic.twitter.com/fcj5wPyvA1
— Charles B. Anthony (@CharlesBAnthony) March 9, 2017
“That scumball Blair should be in jail or the Tower [of London]! When will the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] chase after him and leave our vets alone?” one person wrote, in reference to the recent spate of allegations of abuse by UK troops during the Iraq War.
Twitter also had a lot to say about the former PM’s appearance.
— Mr Malky (@MrMalky) March 9, 2017
Some of the looks Blair got from fellow VIP guests seem to tell their own story.Blair has found it hard to distance himself from the war in Iraq in particular.
He was criticized in Sir John Chilcot’s July 2016 Iraq Inquiry report. The war led to the deaths of 179 British soldiers and precipitated the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
— Lee Thumwood (@LT14GJC) March 9, 2017
The monument also commemorates the deaths of 456 British soldiers in Afghanistan, most of whom died in the post-2006 phase of the war, which, while part of Blair’s vision, was overseen by his successors Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
Families of servicemen killed in Iraq currently have lawyers poring over Chilcot’s 2 million-word report to see if there is a basis to bring a civil case against the former PM.
Chilcot found that Blair went beyond the facts in his effort to make the case to go to war alongside the US.Even though the two wars have officially ended, UK troops remain in both countries in their hundreds.
Blair’s appearance will also grate on war widows who this week have raged in the press about the fact they were not invited to attend.