'Mothers-In-Arms' Slam Blair's Knighthood For Afghanistan, Iraq Wars, While They 'Got to Bury Sons'
A petition to strip former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of his knighthood, posted on Change.org a week ago, has already gained more than a million signatures. Blair has been accused of causing “irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society” due to his role in the Iraq War.
Five women brought together by grief met in Coventry Cathedral on Saturday to each light a candle for their sons, killed in Afghanistan, and voice their fury over the bestowing of knighthood on the man they blame for their loss – Tony Blair.
Carol Valentine, Hazel Hunt, Caroline Whitaker, Caroline Jane Munday-Baker and Helen Perry refuse to be reconciled with the fact that the former UK Prime Minister was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in the New Year Honours List.
The women in question had earlier penned a letter, cited by the Daily Mail, appealing to the British monarch to revoke the honour to the ex-Labour PM which “tramples on our sons sacrifices” and sought to “show the world the devastation he has caused to us and countless other families.”
A wave of indignation was unleashed after the announcement, with those objecting arguing that Blair, who was at Downing Street from 1997 to 2007, was unworthy of the honours due to "war crimes" committed under his tenure.
Some have argued that Blair should be in prison for ordering UK troops in November 2001 to join the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. The then-British Prime Minister had also taken a decision to participate in the 2003 US coalition-led invasion of Iraq, under the pretext that the Saddam Hussein government possessed an active weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. The latter assertion proved to be false, as no stockpiles of WMDs or an active WMD programme were ever discovered in Iraq.
Carol Valentine, whose son Sgt Simon Valentine, 29, was killed while trying to clear land mines in Afghanistan in 2009, was cited as acknowledging that while they might never “be able to stop Blair’s knighthood”, it was their turn to become “mothers-in-arms to fight for their honour and ensure their sacrifice is never forgotten.”
“What did Tony Blair get for starting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? He got a knighthood of the highest order. What did we get? We got to bury our sons,” she said.
Caroline Whitaker, whose 29-year-old son, Sgt Gareth Thursby, was shot dead at a checkpoint in Helmand in 2012, underscored that they would “shout from the rooftops” that Tony Blair took the country into “conflicts that we had no business in.”
“It is unjust and immoral for him to be honoured and rewarded for these seismic disasters.”
As the five women met, a petition
calling for Tony Blair, 68, to be stripped of the knighthood passed a million signatures. The petition, which has no legal force, was started by actor and presenter Angus Scott on the change.org website and denounced the ex-Labour leader for having "caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation's society".
Voicing their agreement, the mothers stated that the former PM should do the “decent” thing and hand back the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry in the wake of so much opposition.
“The online petition has now surpassed more than a million signatures and still he stays silent. If he had any decency, he would hand it back, but this man has no shame or compassion for anyone,” Caroline Jane Munday-Baker was quoted as saying.
She slammed Blair as a “narcissist who sent our sons to their deaths in a war we should never have been to.”
Helen Perry added: “Over a million signatures to see him off and yet he does nothing.”