Iain Dale criticises Tony Blair’s comments on unvaccinated people
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The former New Labour prime minister, who led the country for a decade, said it was an “immense honour” and he was “deeply grateful” to the monarch for making him a Sir. He added: “It was a great privilege to serve as prime minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me, in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country.”
Sir Tony, 68, was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry, to which appointments are in the Queen’s gift without advice from the Government.
He was joined by a host of medical chiefs who helped spearhead the country’s vastly successful Covid vaccination rollout.
England’s chief medical officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty, deputy CMO, Jonathan Van-Tam, and Wales’ and Scotland’s CMOs, Frank Atherton and Dr Gregor Smith, were also given knighthoods.
Damehoods were handed out to the UK Health Security Agency chief Dr Jenny Harries and Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The gongs came after a year in which the threat of new variants arose and more than 130 million vaccinations were administered across the UK.
While few can argue with the UK’s scientific chiefs being rewarded, giving a prestigious title to such a controversial figure as Sir Tony will likely raise a few eyebrows.
Actions such as taking the UK into the 2003 Iraq War and his ongoing vocal opposition to Brexit has seen his popularity with ordinary working Brits nose-dive.
And while he remains the only living Labour leader to have ever won a general election, his falling approval ratings have led many to publicly ask him to stop involving himself in the current Labour Party.
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In November his Institute for Global Change urged current leader Sir Keir Starmer to “reject wokeism” if he wants to win the next general election.
The former prime minister called on Labour to adopt a “commonsensical position on the ‘culture issues’”.
While many agreed with his views, some observers claimed they only served to damage the party in the electorate’s eyes.
Writing at the time in the Independent, political journalist John Rentoul said: “Indeed, the Blair of the 1980s might have regarded the Blair of the 2020s with some impatience.
“Why on earth is he going on about ‘wokeism’, he might ask.
“Why, Keir Starmer might ask today, is he drawing attention to a bundle of issues on which the Labour Party is unfairly painted by its opponents as being extreme or dogmatic?
“That is the paradox of Blair. He advocates bridge-building and consensus-seeking with the electorate, but often does so in the most confrontational way with his own party.”
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