The Independent London Newspaper

Anti-war protesters chant ‘Shame on you’ as Tony Blair makes political comeback at £500-a-head Emirates Stadium fundraiser

Protesters outside Emirates stadium. Inset: Tony Blair

Below: Clockwise from top left; Stephen Twigg, David Miliband, Tessa Jowell and Margaret Hodge arrive at the stadium

Lindsey ­German and fellow protester with a message for Tony Blair. Inset: CND’s Bruce Kent

Published: 13 July, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON

LABOUR grandees and wealthy supporters had to run the gauntlet of angry anti-war protesters in order to enter a glitzy £500-a-head fundraiser where former Prime Minister Tony Blair was making his political comeback.

Former ministers and current shadow ministers such as Tessa Jowell, Margaret Hodge and Harriet Harman, as well as one-time Labour leadership contender David Miliband, all had to be escorted through the crowd and endure chants of “Shame on you” and “Blair lied, thousands died” on their way into Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, where the event was being held on Wednesday.

Eddie Izzard, who was entertaining guests along with fellow Labour-supporting comedian Jo Brand, managed to slip in unnoticed.

But football manager Sam Allardyce, MP Tom Watson, who has helped expose the phone-hacking scandal, and Labour’s Stephen Twigg all had to face the crowd and have placards waved in their faces. Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell and current Labour leader Ed Miliband were also at the event billed as Mr Blair’s re-entry into British politics after a five-year absence.

Anti-war protesters have vowed to follow the former Prime Minister wherever he goes, however, to demand that he be arrested for war crimes over the invasion of Iraq. They accuse him and Mr Campbell of being responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths.

An event in Lambeth earlier this week had to be cancelled because of protests.

Dozens of protesters, including vice-president of CND Bruce Kent, who lives in Islington, were at the protest.

Mr Kent – who left the protest before guests arrived – told demonstrators that he could remember being bombed during World War II and that the United Nations had been founded in 1945 in order to prevent further conflicts.

“The UN Charter, which this country signed up to, was to save the world from the scourge of war,” he said. “It says that no nation can go to war or take military action without the decision of the Security Council, and it can only take that decision after all other measures to avoid war have been exhausted. That didn’t happen in Iraq. It was a disgrace."

Sabah Jawad, of the Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation Group, told protesters that there were still terrorist attacks in Iraq.

“In the last few months there have been attacks in Iraq and hundreds of people have been killed,” he said. “This is a legacy of the war in Iraq. The tragedy of Iraq is still with us and it’s going to be with us for years to come. Our message to Tony Blair is that wherever you go, we’re going to be there to remind you of your murderous history. We’re not going to forget.”

At the event Ed Miliband shared a platform with Mr Blair in a symbolic gesture that saw the two wings of the party – those who support Mr Blair and those who backed his successor Gordon Brown, coming together.

He announced that Mr Blair would advise the party on the Olympic legacy.

“I want to thank Tony for what he did for our party and for our country. And I know how committed he is to Labour winning next time,” Mr Miliband said.

Mr Blair responded: “It’s an honour to be here tonight to support our party, whose values and principles I have always believed in and always will.”

Comments

Blair's comeback

Why is the Labour leadership supporting Blair's attempt to re-enter politics? Surely they must be aware that many UK voters are still very angry with Blair and his lies which took us into the Iraq war?

My own view is that Ed Miliband is doing this in an attempt to re-unite the pro and anti-Blair factions in the Party, prior to the next general election. If this is the case, Miliband may be pursuing a highly dangerous course which could cost him the key to 10 Downing Street. Other views would be welcome.

Angry voter.

Values and principles

Blair managed to convert to Catholicism without too much trouble. So I wouldn't take his 'always will' at face value.

Two wings?

If the Labour Party have two wings - The Brownists and Blairites - what is the difference within the Labour party?

Post new comment

Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.