Mr Blair has, through a spokesman, announced that he will donate the profits and advance payments that arise from his memoirs to the British Legion, who will use the money towards a rehabilitation centre for badly wounded and damaged soldiers. The gift is stated to be £4 million but, I believe after taking into account the tax that Mr Blair would have paid had he not made the gift, the loss to Mr Blair is £2 million, still an immense sum.
The British Legion is a worthy charity; it does a great deal of good for our service men and women who have been injured serving their country. Charities like the British legion are necessary because an ungrateful nation does not care for its injured soldiers in a way that makes us proud. The Legion assuages our conscious, marginally, by the good work it does.
The Legion welcomes Mr Blair’s donation, no doubt thinking of the good that it can do with it. The relatives of some serviceman who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Blair’s chief wars, think the donation should not be accepted. They have called it blood money.
I have always thought that Mr Blair, has blood on his hands. I think that he made a vain self serving decision to take the country to war against Iraq, and by that decision committed a war crime of waging a war of aggression. I think there is a legal case for him to answer and, if there was justice, he would answer that case at the Hague. He may not be guilty – a defence may succeed – but there is a case to answer.
I have thought long and hard about Mr Blair’s actions. Should I criticise a generous charitable donation? Is it praiseworthy of Mr Blair, who has since leaving office become and immensely wealthy man by advising bankers and lecturing, to give the fruits of his writing about his life as Prime Minister to charity?
I suspect the answer is contained in the first paragraph of this essay. Every religion with which I am familiar urges its adherents to be charitable. It is the duty of everyone, the great religions teach, to be charitable and by charity they mean helping the unfortunate and the poor.
However, all the religions also teach that charity is not something to boast about or even announce to the world, like Mr Blair has announced, or even like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have announced. Charity is something to be done quietly silently and without announcement. It should be done anonymously with the giver taking great lengths to ensure that his or her identity is never revealed.
Unless charity is done without fanfare on the part of the donor the motives for charity will always be suspect. Four million pounds would have helped the British legion and its charitable objects just as well as if it were donated anonymously; indeed it might have helped more, being untainted by any political association.
Mr Blair’s spokesman announced the gift. That conditions my thinking towards the gift. If Mr Blair had not caused the gift to be announced but shrouded in under strict conditions of secrecy, we would not think better of him, because we would not know of the gift, but Mr Blair would be a better person, even if he were the only person to know it.