Satire died when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, said Tom Lehrer. Now irony has followed it to the grave. GQ’s Philanthropist of the Year is Tony Blair. And no, this isn’t some cunning wind-up by the magazine. They gave the former PM a bauble at a ceremony last night. I’d like to say that Blair looks suitably embarrassed holding it, but nope. Neither he nor the lady wife ‘do’ embarrassment.
Even nice Gary Lineker had a go at GQ on Twitter. ‘People will be greatly concerned and wonder if this was the right decision,’ he tweeted when the news came through. They will indeed wonder. Employing four-letter words, I suspect.
I would love to have been at the Condé Nast meeting at which this one was agreed. I won’t risk a libel action by speculating about the conversation, but please let your imaginations roam. The tribute to the winner on GQ’s website reads: ‘In 2007 Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister, but his surging momentum’s shown no signs of slowing.’ So that’s another ceremony to look forward to: Private Eye awards Dylan Jones the Order of the Brown Nose (OBN).
Now, look, as TB likes to say. I’m not denying that the man is a philanthropist. The term traditionally refers to rich men who give to charity, usually by setting up foundations. The cap fits. Blair is not only a very rich man but, like many such individuals, deliciously evasive when asked how rich he is. He has three foundations. One to promote good governance in Africa, one to provide sports coaches for kids in the North East, and one to reconcile ‘the three Abrahamic faiths’. Bit more work to do on that last project, I would have said, but presumably GQ thinks things are moving in the right direction.
I’m just worried that, now Blair is Philanthropist of the Year, philanthropy itself is going to go out of fashion. Rich men and women will associate it with all the other stuff he and Cherie do (again, I won’t go into detail) and think: sod it, I’ll buy a private island instead.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.