In many ways, the petition text does not actually touch on the issues that most people see as the ‘Sir Tony’ problem. I’d say there’s a big one, and an earth-shatteringly enormous one – but I keep changing my mind over which is which. Here they are, in no particular order…
We know what war is
The massive demo in London – believed to be around 1.5m people was not a single-issue demo. Its message, for chanting purposes, was ‘don’t attack Iraq’ but the wider, the excruciatingly important message was the popular realisation of what war is. (Some would say ‘always has been’, some would say ‘has become’ – but either way….) First world countries inflicting war upon countries far from home, ‘managing’ wars that they can be confident will never directly affect ‘their own’ people or property is very obviously a political game, a businessmen’s game. It is not acceptable to the general population.
It’s possible (some would say obvious) that statesmen have always spun lies to persuade their governments to pay for, and their people to fight in, wars they want to engage in but in the case of Tony Blair, we saw it happening, and we required acknowledgement of that. We may not have stopped the war, but the conversations that took place on that march, between reds, greens and non-party political groups, between socialist and non-aligned activists, between members of several religions and members of none, was a huge part of people in this country grasping the notion that we are the 99%, and that if we are to survive, sooner or later we need to learn how to put the brakes on the 1%, when they set up their massive crimes.
Blairites v Corbynites is not over
It’s easy to misjudge what happened in the Labour Party in the last decade. It’s easy to think it was all about two opposed characters, and what people’s tribal allegiances were but although it’s a long time since Blair was leader, and Corbyn is now suspended from action within the party by the new leader, the real nature of the clash in the party was about understanding, and responding to, the discovery that we are the 99%, and all we need to do is work out how to take advantage of our vast majority. That’s a discovery that is made sooner or later in every generation, and it never ceases to matter. That’s why a favourite catch-phrase of the Corbyn movement was ‘for the many’.
The Labour Party could not, as it turned out, be opened up and democratised, because the 1% never let go of the levers that control the party. That needs to be remembered. I personally believe the lesson was that party politics is not helpful to the people. It’s tribal, and divisive, and is in fact one of the tools the 1% use to keep us apart. You may not agree, you may think one or other of the supposedly progressive parties is still worth fighting for. Up to you, but a large portion of the 700k people who have so far signed that petition have done so because they see Blair as the a leader of, and a symbol of, the force that broke the attempt by the 99% to get a grip on the party that, supposedly, was the party of the people.
What we need
If we are to beat poverty, if we are to beat the warmongers, the creators of refugees, and the climate crisis, if we are to save our NHS, and re-establish the need for decent, secure housing – if we are to do any of these things, we the 99%, need to keep leaning on the 1%. We need to keep showing them that we see their game, that we are learning how to push back, and that we are not going away.
We need to tell people like Blair – and that means everyone from him through Prince Andrew, Jeff Bezos, Boris Johnson and Sir Keir, all the way back to Blair, that their world is not sustainable, that neither their rules nor their rule are acceptable, and that we are too many to ignore.
That’s why, however far the wording of the petition is from your own personal reasons for being embarrassed/appalled/furious at the idea of this man being honoured by our country, whatever you wish that petition had said, its power now is that it’s the petition that’s got over 700k names on it. Please sign it, please share it, please email it to friends not on social media. We need that petition to be over a million, so that it cannot be dismissed as a minority view.
The ‘rescind Blair’s knighthood’ petition – sign it, share it, talk about it, take it further.