Tony Blair book launch party cancelled

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The Independent Culture

A party to mark the launch of Tony Blair's new book tonight, which would have attracted protests from anti-war campaigners, has been called off, it was revealed today.

Guests invited to the event, at the Tate Modern museum in Central London, have been told that it has been postponed, said a spokeswoman for the book's publishers, Random House.

It is the second time the former prime minister has called off an event after he cancelled a signing session of his memoir, due to be held at the Waterstone's book store in London's Piccadilly today.

After cancelling the book signing the ex-premier said he did not want to subject the public to the "inevitable hassle" protests would cause or use up police resources keeping order at the event.

Campaigners against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had planned to demonstrate outside Tate Modern and criticised the museum for allowing the party to be held there.

Eggs and shoes were hurled by protesters and one attempted to make a citizen's arrest when Mr Blair signed copies of the book, A Journey, in Dublin last weekend.

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, who had planned to protest outside the Tate Modern gallery tonight, said it was a "big victory" for the anti-war movement.

"It shows he is running scared. The people who say we should not protest are denying us the right to persist in asking questions about the war and denying the rights of Iraqis who are still suffering because of Blair's policies."

Mr Blair told ITV1's This Morning: "It is sad in a way because you should have the right to sign books or see your friends if you want to.

"But it was going to cause so much hassle. The people at the party tonight are friends - and some of them are not political at all.

"I don't mind going through protesters - I have lived with that all my political life. But for other people it can be a bit unpleasant and frightening."

The party would go ahead at some stage as a thank-you to the people who had helped produce the memoir, he said.

Mr Blair said he and Gordon Brown had not been in contact since the publication of the book - which contained many criticisms of his successor.

"But we will," he added.