If any politician was going to pull off the greatest stunt of a generation, it really had to be Tony Blair. And, by committing all the proceeds from his memoirs (as well as the £4 million advance) to the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back challenge centre, a project that will provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services for seriously injured troops returning from the frontline, he has done exactly that.
The book can now be read guilt free, knowing that the proceeds will not be lining Blair’s pockets but helping soldiers returning from the frontline. It’s got all the talkability that Mandelson’s book lacked, it’s released in a season when most politicians are on holiday and the only serious competition it has for the front pages are Kelly Brook celebrating naked month by dyeing herself orange and parading in a series of ever-skimpier frocks and Joe McElderry coming out of the closet in the hope that it’ll shift a few more units of his debut album.
Tony Blair may have had support in the past, but this proves he’s learned how to keep his name in the public eye, and his reputation safe, all by himself – if the book tanks, he won’t suffer and he’ll be seen to have tried. He’s protected himself in a hermetically sealed aura of ‘nice guy’ once again and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next with his memoirs – and how the people who have wanted to see him accused of war crimes will react.