Half a million people oppose knighthood for Tony Blair

Petitioners say former British prime minister should instead be prosecuted for invading Iraq

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair's Iraq war legacy continues to cast a shadow almost two decades after the conflict began. Photo: AFP

More than half a million people have signed a petition calling for Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair to be prevented from receiving a knighthood, with some arguing he should instead be prosecuted for war crimes.

Mr Blair, whose Iraq war legacy continues to taint his image almost two decades after the conflict began, was named in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s Honours list.

The former Labour leader is set to be appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.

But on Tuesday, just days after Buckingham Palace announced the list a petition calling for Mr Blair to be denied the title surpassed 540,000.

Angus Scott, who started the online campaign calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask the Queen to reconsider her decision.

“Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation's society,” Mr Scott wrote.

Tony Blair was criticised for his decision to agree to a joint military invasion of Iraq in 2003 with then US president George W Bush. Photo: PA

The former prime minister was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts, he said.

"For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes," Mr Scott said.

“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.”

Mr Blair was dubbed “George Bush’s poodle” for his decision to bow to pressure from then then US President to join the US in invading Iraq in 2003.

People who put their names to the Change.org petition did not hold back in their criticism of Mr Blair, one of the chief architects of the conflict.

“Tony Blair should be prosecuted, not knighted,” said petitioner Deborah Warford. “Someone like this being honoured shows how corrupt and vile the system is.”

Another supporter of the petition, Fergus Murray, said if Mr Blair is bestowed the honour “the whole system dishonours us”.

A third person, Kevin Nobles, said Mr Blair had lied about Iraq’s former leader Saddam Hussein harbouring weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of the Middle Eastern country and should therefore be “tried as a war criminal”.

“His policies have done irreparable damage to Britain,” Mr Nobles said.

After his tenure at 10 Downing Street, Mr Blair became a special Middle East envoy and set up his own non-profit group, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

Each year, Royal Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter gather at St George’s Chapel in Windsor for a colourful procession and ceremony.

Crowds watch as they walk down the hill to the chapel from the state apartments, dressed in blue velvet mantles, red velvet hoods, black velvet hats and white ostrich plumes.

Updated: January 4th 2022, 11:39 AM