Tony Blair Cancels Book Signing Over Protests
LONDON — Tony Blair on Monday canceled a planned public appearance in London to promote his new memoir over concerns about potential disruption from protesters.
The former British prime minister said he didn't "want the public to be inconvenienced by the inevitable hassle caused by protesters," during his appearance on Wednesday at Waterstone's bookstore in central London.
"I know the Metropolitan Police would, as ever, have done a superb job in managing any disruption, but I do not wish to impose an extra strain on police resources, simply for a book signing," Blair said in a statement.
Earlier, Blair told ITV television that a bookstore signing session could cause unnecessary "hassle and cost" for police. Protesters demonstrating against Blair's decision to join the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq hurled shoes and eggs at him in Dublin on Saturday.
Anti-war demonstrators had planned to rally outside Blair's signing, and he said he was also worried that the far right British National Party might attempt to cause trouble.
"You end up just causing a lot of hassle for people and cost when there are better things for the police to do and it's not as if we need to do it," said Blair, who added that the book was "selling fantastically."
"It is sad at the same time, frankly. If people want to have a book signed, people should protest but not try and physically prevent you doing it."
Waterstone's managing director Dominic Myers said the cancellation of the signing "is a matter of regret that because of the likely actions of a minority, our customers are now not able to meet a three-times elected prime minister of the United Kingdom, whose book has become our fastest-selling autobiography ever."
Blair was paid a 4-million-pound ($7-million) advance for the memoir "A Journey," which mounts a strong defense of his policies during his years as prime minister from 1997 to 2007.
The book is a best-seller – currently No. 1 in Amazon's British rankings and in its U.S. top 10 – but it has sparked protests from opponents of his policies, especially the invasion of Iraq.
A Facebook group calling on people to "subversively move Tony Blair's memoirs to the crime section in book shops" has more than 7,000 members. Members have submitted shots of the book sitting on the fantasy, true crime and horror shelves at stores.