GQ Men of the Year Awards: Tony Blair is named 'Philanthropist of the Year'

The former Prime Minister said in his acceptance speech that he could "feel the pulse of progress beating a little harder"

Natasha Culzac
Tuesday 09 September 2014 15:40 BST
Tony Blair has received a GQ award for 'Philanthropist of the Year'
Tony Blair has received a GQ award for 'Philanthropist of the Year' (PA)

Tony Blair has been named ‘Philanthropist of the Year’ at the GQ Men Of The Year awards – an announcement which drew a collective bemused gasp across the internet.

Former Prime Minister Blair received the accolade for his establishing three charities: The Tony Blair Sports Foundation, his Faith Foundation and his Africa Governance Initiative.

According to GQ, Blair told the glitzy audience: “I would like to dedicate this award to the people that work with and for my organisations. I feel the pulse of progress beating a little harder.”

The ceremony was held at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden last night and also saw gongs bestowed on Peter Capaldi for best TV Personality, Christopher Bailey for best Designer, while Kim Kardashian walked away with the ‘Woman of the Year’ award.

Blair, who is oft-criticised for his role in bringing war to the Middle East in 2003, is also a Special Envoy for the Quartet Representative, a mandate set up to facilitate peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

In 2012 the Quartet was mocked for being “useless, useless, useless” by senior Palestinian officials, which condemned it for being full of “constructive ambiguity that really took us to nowhere”.

The former Labour leader’s award was condemned by an MP from his own party: “It sends the wrong message. This sort of award should go to an unsung hero who has given up their time for charity,” John Mann MP said, according to the MailOnline.

Tory MP Charlie Elphicke added: “It is jaw dropping that he should be given this award given his involvement in spinning the alleged brutal massacre in Kazakhstan.”

Last month, it was revealed that Blair had given PR advice to the President of Kazakhstan, the latter of whom was giving a speech defending his country’s human rights record in light of the deaths of unarmed protesters at the hands of police.

The Tony Blair Sports Foundation aims to get more young people involved in sports and physical activity by recruiting and training coaches, while his Faith Foundation attempts to “counter religious prejudice, conflict and extremism in order to promote an open-minded and stable society”.

Full list of the GQ winners is below:

Comedian: John Bishop

Editor's Special: Liam Neeson

Chef: Tom Kerridge

Designer: Christopher Bailey

International Man: Jonah Hill

Writer: Michael Lewis

Philanthropist: Tony Blair

Breakthrough Fashion Designers: Agi and Sam

TV Personality: Peter Capaldi

Innovator: Ewan Venters

Inspiration: New Order

Hugo Boss Most Stylish Man: Douglas Booth

Sportsman: Lewis Hamilton

Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch

Entrepreneur: Andre Balazs

Special Achievement: Paolo Nutini

Breakthrough: Jamie Dornan

Legend: Van Morrison

Solo Artist: Pharrell Williams

Leading Man: Colin Firth

Humanitarian: Ringo Starr

Woman: Kim Kardashian

Icon: Iggy Pop

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