It must have seemed a bright idea at the time but it’s hardly surprising that Tony Blair’s decision to hand the £4.6 million advance and any profits from his autobiography to the Royal British Legion has attracted more criticism than praise.
In typical Blair fashion the move has been handled in an ill-prepared, vague way and in PR terms has done little to improve his reputation. Can Alastair Campbell's fingerprints be found somewhere in all this?
Apart from declaring that the money would go towards a state-of-the-art sports centre for wounded servicemen little detail has been forthcoming. In his traditional “You can trust me, I’m a genuine guy” fashion, Blair seems to believe that a simple announcement will get the crowds cheering.
Unfortunately he’s not Bono but a former prime minister with a lot of baggage. While many of his critics find his determined efforts to elevate himself into the realms of the filthy rich distasteful, what they really want from him is not donations but the tiniest indication that he might have made some terrible misjudgements about the way to deal with Iraq.
The initiative is also a shabby attempt to gain some kind of moral high ground by implying that critics who don’t buy the book are depriving the soldiers of a much-needed facility.
Maybe there will be massive purchases of the tome followed by book bonfires across the county.