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article imageDisbelief greets Tony Blair's GQ Philanthropist of the Year award

By Mathew Wace Peck     Sep 3, 2014 in World
Much to the collective incomprehension of many, Tony Blair has been named as this year's recipient of "GQ" magazine's Philanthropist of the Year Award.
The former British prime minister was given the award at last night's GQ Men of the Year Awards, which were held at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.
According to a report in today's Mirror, "Stunned silence filled the GQ Men Of The Year Awards hall as Tony Blair accepted a 'jaw dropping' philanthropist of the year award on Tuesday night."
This was confirmed by a tweet from the Sun "Showbiz" reporter, who wrote, "Tony Blair just won philanthropist of the year at the #GQAwards No boos but a muted response it's fair to say!"
Apparently, Blair received the "Philanthropist" award "for his establishing three charities: The Tony Blair Sports Foundation, his Faith Foundation and his Africa Governance Initiative."
GQ quotes Blair from the ceremony: "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."
However, many people have taken to social media to voice their displeasure that someone who is often blamed for his part in helping to destabilise the Middle East — through his support of the former US President George W Bush and the 2003 Iraq War — should be given such an award.
Former England football captain and BBC presenter Gary Lineker summed up the mood when he tweeted: "Apparently, Tony Blair has won GQ's philanthropist of the year award. Finally these awards have grasped irony!"
Several serving British politicians have also vented their dismay, including those from his own party. According to MailOnline, Labour MP John Mann said, "It sends the wrong message. This sort of award should go to an unsung hero who has given up their time for charity."
The Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke is quoted by the Independent as saying, “It is jaw dropping that he should be given this award given his involvement in spinning the alleged brutal massacre in Kazakhstan.”
Elphicke is referring to the revelation last month, in the Daily Telegraph, that Blair had given the autocratic Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev "advice on how to manage his image after the slaughter of unarmed civilians protesting against his regime."
Meanwhile, the British poet, Sophia Walker, tweeted, "People shouldn't be so angry with GQ. I also often confuse the words 'philanthropist' and 'war monger"'."
Many people assumed GQ must have been having a laugh at their expense, as typified by one person, Jason, when he commented: "Nobody on Twitter is going to write a funnier joke than Tony Blair being named Philanthropist of the Year. Well played, real life."
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