Blair roadshow attracts his foes – and some fans
There will be tight security for ex-PM in London
Sunday 05 September 2010
As the shoes and eggs flew in the streets of Dublin yesterday and the crowds booed, jeered and chanted that he was a "war criminal" and had "blood on his hands", it must have felt a bit like old times for the former prime minister Tony Blair.
The past few days have seen him on something of a campaign trail, complete with appearances on television studio sofas, meet and greets with the public, cosy radio chats and, of course, an entourage of protesters who have vowed to dog his every move as he drums up publicity for his memoir, A Journey, which was published on Wednesday.
Hundreds of fans as well as protesters had also turned up to Eason's bookshop in the Irish capital yesterday, hoping that Mr Blair would sign a copy of his memoir at one of only two planned book-signing sessions – he is still well regarded in Ireland because of the Northern Ireland peace process. It was the success of that process that prompted Mr Blair to say that he "felt the hand of history on his shoulder".
Other hands have been reaching for his well-tailored shoulder, or indeed any other part of him, recently, as anti-war activists seek to carry out a citizen's arrest on the former PM for war crimes following the ill-fated invasion of Iraq. The most recent was that of Kate O'Sullivan, 24, from Cork, who was restrained by security and then detained for twenty minutes after she tackled the former Labour Party leader yesterday.
"I queued up and went in," she said. "We were given a copy of the book and we paid for it. We went through a metal detector and were led up to the third floor. We were brought in four at a time. I said, 'Tony Blair, I am making a citizen's arrest,' and before I had finished I was whisked away ... after a while they kicked me out."
Tomorrow, Mr Blair's travelling circus will pull up outside the studios of ITV, when he becomes the first guest on its revamped breakfast show, Daybreak, hosted by Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley – the duo poached from the BBC for a reputed £10m.
On Wednesday, the former PM will face another grilling – by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV's This Morning – over the book, in which he sticks the knife into Gordon Brown, tries to apologise for Iraq without saying sorry, and is unnecessarily candid about his sex life. He will then set off for Waterstone's bookshop in Piccadilly, London, for a much-publicised signing session that has also generated controversy because of its stringent security measures.
That is partly in response to the targeting of the event by the anti-war movement, and the Arrest Blair campaign, which intends to mount the biggest protest so far.
Yesterday there were four arrests when scuffles broke out outside Eason's in Dublin, but the thrown eggs and shoes all missed Mr Blair. There were also protests outside the studios of the Irish channel RTE on Friday, when he appeared on the top-rated Late Late Show. And, this week, Mr Blair faces an interview with David Frost, to be broadcast on the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera later this month.
When Ms O'Sullivan tried to arrest Mr Blair, she also stood to gain a bounty of £3,129.20. Anyone attempting to arrest him for what the Arrest Blair website calls "crimes against peace" stands to pocket a quarter of public donations in its fund, some £12,516.08. The attempt must be non-violent and recorded in at least one mainstream media outlet.
The Arrest Blair site aims to encourage a war crimes prosecution against Mr Blair, either by one of the countries he visits, or the International Criminal Court. Two anti-war protesters have already been awarded bounties – of £2,619.67 and £2,801.08. A second anti-Blair campaign gained ground yesterday. Last night nearly 4,000 people had signed up to a Facebook literary movement pledged to secretly move his memoirs to bookshop crime sections.
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