The What Of The Year?

09.03.14

"Stunned Silence" Greets Blair's Award For Philanthropist Of The Year

Tony Blair was named ‘philanthropist of the year’ at GQ’s awards last night – just as news was breaking that another hostage had been murdered

One could not help but be reminded of Tom Lehrer's quip that, “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”

And the timing was, to say the least, unfortunate.

For Tony Blair was last night named ‘philanthropist of the year’ at GQ’s Man of the Year awards – just as news was breaking that another hostage, Steven Sotloff, had been murdered by the Islamic State extremists who have overrun large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Many in the UK still accuse Tony Blair of massaging the facts in the so-called ‘dodgy dossier’ which was distributed to journalists in 2003 to support the invasion of Iraq. The dossier was alleged to have ‘sexed-up’ the case for Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, a key justification given for British involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was later found to be false.

The Daily Mirror reported that, “stunned silence” greeted the announcement of the award. Blair told the assembled  crowd: “I would like to dedicate this award to the people that work with and for my organisations. I feel the pulse of progress beating a little harder.”

But Labour MP John Mann said shortly after: "It sends the wrong message. This sort of award should go to an unsung hero who has given up their time for charity."

A spokesperson for GQ told the Daily Beast: "Tony Blair was named Philanthropist of The Year in recognition of the charitable contribution made by the three Foundations he has established across the world. Highlighted in his citation was the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's work in Sierra Leone, which is dedicated to saving lives using a pioneering malaria prevention initiative that engages with faith communities to tackle the problem. (If there isn't a hospital there will be a church or mosque, and in this way the message can be shared with the most remote towns and villages throughout Sierra Leone.) In this way, the Foundation has supported 600 Muslim and Christian leaders, trained over 14,000 people, and reached over two million people with potentially life-saving messages."

Kim Kardashian won Woman of the Year at the awards, which were also attended by Pippa Middleton and Cara Delevingne

Here's a sampling of some of the reaction to Blair's award: