Tony Blair’s Children’s Award in contrast with his PR work for a dictator

November 27, 2014

This blog has always had keen interest in awards and in celebrities abusing their reputation. The current row over Tony Blair receiving an award from Save the Children USA as described by Katie Nguyen of Reuters on 26 November 2014 is exactly at the crossroads of these two interest.

Quartet Representative to the Middle East and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair attends the International donors conference on financing the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in Cairo October 12, 2014.  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Files
(former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at International donors conference on October 12, 2014. 
CREDIT: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/FILES)
Save the Children’s U.S.A chapter gave its annual Global Legacy Award to former British prime minister Tony Blair last week. It stated that it was to recognise Blair’s role in persuading the G8 to agree to debt relief of $40 billion for the poorest nations. Staff working for the charity were furious about the award, the Guardian newspaper reported and more than 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Save the Children revoke the award.

We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values. Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision,” the Guardian quoted an internal letter. Save the Children UK later issued a statement saying: “In a global organisation like ours of thousands of people, our staff have strong views on a whole range of issues and people, and we respect that diversity of views.”

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, also criticised the award, saying in a tweet that: “Past money for Africa is no justification for now becoming well-heeled dictators’ p.r. agent.” [Blair has been heavily criticized over his lucrative deal to advise Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on good governance to the dismay of many human rights NGOs and Kazakh opposition politicians].

Kanye West was blamed for singing for the same Kazakh dictator [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/dictators-in-central-asia-like-music-some-musicians-like-the-dictators/] so why be more lenient in the case of a former Prime Minister?

Save the Children under pressure, 100,000 oppose award for Tony Blair | Reuters.

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