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:
Apparently, Tony Blair has won GQ's philanthropist of the year award. Finally these awards have grasped irony!— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 2, 2014
Judging by this photo, even Tony Blair isn't quite sure why he won GQ Philanthropist of the Year... pic.twitter.com/kULuUG30v0— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) September 3, 2014
Tony Blair awarded Philanthropist of the Year by GQ. Robert Mugabe pissed.— Chris Matyszczyk (@ChrisMatyszczyk) September 2, 2014