Why did we decide to make this CD? I set up a Facebook group two years ago, “IMPEACH TONY BLAIR” because I was becoming more and more incensed that Tony Blair, far from taking the blame for the Iraq War and its aftermath, was simply swanning around the world working for tryannical dictators and earning huge amounts of money. It seemed there were many people who felt the same way I did. Most of us had marched in the one million march against the Iraq War and our voices had been deliberately ignored. Consequently the membership of the group grew. It now has 2500 members and rising every day. We all have one focus to see Tony Blair be brought to justice for his war crimes.
In July 2015 I threw out an idea – making an anti-Iraq War, anti-Blair CD as a stocking filler for Christmas 2015. I realized it would be perfect timing in many ways. Firstly many of Tony Blair’s friends and colleagues were beginning to turn on him, whether because they finally recognized what we had been saying for over a decade – that the Iraq War was illegal or whether to save their own skins, it wasn’t clear. But it was happening. Secondly, there had been a lot of adverse publicity about the Chilcot Inquiry Report still unpublished after 6 years. And thirdly, the Press too was beginning to round on Blair and pointing out that his illegal war in Iraq had led to the rise of ISIS and made the world a far less safe place to live. And fourthly, I realized that Christmas 2015 would mark the centenary of a very poignant and evocative event – that immortal and iconinc moment on the frontline when Allied and German soldiers, laid down their guns, joined hands and sang the Christmas carol, “Silent Night”.
I was amazed at the immediate response. All these years since the Iraq War people had been writing poems, songs and carols about Iraq, about Tony Blair and about the victims of the war. I had absolutely no idea that there were so many talented members of the group – artists, writers, poets, singers, composers, musicians, all of them had been waiting for an opportunity like this.
The idea for the CD just took off. Offers of recording studios, artwork, website design, musical arrangement, video making, just flooded in. People volunteered to be on the production team. And so the idea turned into a serious project with wings.
Everything fell into place. The desire to see Blair pay for his crimes was such a strong incentive among each and every member of the group and, even, the wider public, that it became a very powerful impetus to simply get on with the production of the CD. Each member of the production team allocated himself or herself a particular responsibility and gave the role everything they had. As a consequence, rather than taking a year or more, this CD has been put together in record time – less than 5 months.
The team consists of myself, entrepreneur Janis Hetherington, singer/songwriter Stephanie De-Sykes, pianist/comedian/songwriter Earl Okin, poet/artist Alisha Sufit, war journalist Felicity Arbuthnot, academic Clifford Jones, poet/writer Ray Souter, artist/web designer Allison Carmichael and the father of a British soldier killed in Iraq and spokesman for the families who lost their sons and daughters in Blair’s illegal war, Peter Brierley..
I want to take this opportunity also to thank those actors and singers who immediately accepted our invitation to read poems or sing songs and carols on the CD – Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhaigh, Michael Smiley, Annie Skates, David Erdos and last but definitely not least my wonderful nephew, Cary Elwes. Thanks to them and to the poets, the musical arrangers, the photographers, the video makers and recording engineers who all came together to make this CD happen.
All the expenses for producing the CD have been paid out of the team’s pockets. So all the proceeds from sales of the CD will go directly to the victims in Iraq.
Production Team: Caroline Kennedy, Janis Hetherington, Stephanie De-Sykes, Earl Okin, Alisha Sufit, Felicity Arbuthnot, Clifford Jones, Ray Souter, Allison Carmichael and Peter Brierley.