A petition created with the aim of stripping former prime minister Tony Blair of his Knighthood has so far gathered more than 600,000 signatures.
The Change.org page claims Tony Blair “caused irreparable damage” to the constitution of the UK and to the “fabric of the nation’s society”.
Entitled Tony Blair To Have His ‘Knight Companion Of The Most Noble Order Of The Garter’ rescinded, the page set a goal of 1million signatures.
Angus Scott who set up the petition explained: “He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts.
“For this alone, he should be held accountable for war crimes.
“Tony Blair is the least deserving person of any public honour, particularly anything awarded by Her Majesty the Queen.
“We petition the Prime Minister to petition Her Majesty to have this honour removed.”
The political leader who celebrated three election victories under Labour led the country into an eight-year conflict in Iraq alongside US President George W Bush following the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Mr Blair who left office in 2007 was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, an appointment made personally by the Queen, in the New Year’s Honours list.
Now a 68-year-old, the former Sedgefield MP reacted to the announcement by saying: “It is an immense honour to be appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty the Queen.
“It was a great privilege to serve as Prime Minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country.”
It didn’t take long however for the award to become controversial both in the North-East and across the UK.
The 40-year-old twin brother of Lance Corporal David Wilson from Spennymoor, who was killed at Basra airbase in 2008 where he served with 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, was quick to react. He said: “It is disgraceful, given the outcome of the Chilcott report, in which it was clear that he and Mr Bush has deceived us all to go to war in the first place, that Mr Blair should be allowed a knighthood.
“The whole thing is skewed, given what he has done. It should not be allowed.
“It is ridiculous. Mr Blair, who led the Labour Party to three consecutive election victories and served as Prime Minister from 1997 and 2007, has been branded a ‘war criminal’ for his decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
Six-years-ago an inquiry led by Sir John Chilcot found Mr Blair ‘overplayed’ evidence about Saddam Hussein’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. The enquiry cited: “The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
“The Government failed to achieve its stated objectives.”
Asian Standard has learned Military mothers who lost their sons during the conflicts are reportedly threatening to return Elizabeth Crosses, awarded to bereaved families, in protest.
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, told LBC radio earlier this week:
“I think it’s pretty incredible given that we’ve seen the collapse of Afghanistan, which [was] Tony Blair’s first major war in the war on terror.
“We have eight million people on the edge of starvation in Afghanistan now.
“We have Iraq in a terrible state now, nearly 20 years after the invasion.
“And I think it’s a kick in the teeth for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a kick in the teeth for all the people who protested against the war in Iraq and who have been proved right.”
Mr Wilson whose brother was shot and subsequently died from his injuries at the age of 27 added: “I am going to write to the Queen. I know it is not going to change anything.
“He is going to get that knighthood regardless, and regardless of the petition, it is still going to happen.
“I am still going to do it because it would not be fair on David’s legacy if I didn’t.”
He believes Sir Tony Blair’s actions resulted in the deaths of more than 450 British soldiers with the fall- out from the war offering up domestic terror attacks along with widespread chaos in the Middle East.
In more than 700 years only 40 individuals have been deemed no longer worthy of the honour – but regardless of how many signatures are collected, it can’t be debated by MPs because honours are a matter for the Queen, not ministers.
The architect of New Labour became a Middle East envoy and set up his own non-for-profit group, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, after leaving office.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said Mr Blair’s knighthood was ‘respectful and the right thing to do’ as he had done ‘one of the toughest jobs in the world’ by serving as prime minister.
The controversy however continues to gather momentum days after the New Year’s Honours list was released to the public.
Lance Corporal David Wilson