Fancy earning a quick £2,500 or so? Then find out where Tony Blair is making a public appearance, get as close to him as possible and shout out, “Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge.” Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu might be interested.
The Guardian columnist and Green polemicist George Monbiot has established ArrestBlair.org. This site, whose content is all written by Monbiot, offers a bounty for anyone attempting a citizen’s arrest on Tony Blair and invites donations to pay for the reward. The site’s purpose, it states, is “to encourage repeated attempts to arrest the former prime minister”. Whoever makes an attempt will receive a quarter of the money held at the time by the fund — four rewards have so far been paid out, ranging from £2,420.89 to £3,129.02, for attempts made in London, Brussels, Dublin and Hong Kong. Those who might have qualms about claiming their prize because of the campaign’s political motivations are helpfully informed: “We have no interest in people’s motivation, as long as they follow the rules laid down by this site… if they do it only for the money, that is fine too.”
Monbiot is a great champion of transparency and repeatedly calls on think-tanks and other campaigns to declare who their supporters are. He himself declares all his earnings on his own website: he is currently paid £62,007 a year by the Guardian for his weekly column and blog posts and has received a book advance of £40,000 from Penguin. ArrestBlair.org, however, does not declare who its donors are. Monbiot justifies this by arguing that he only wants organisations to declare donations exceeding £1,000 — and all donations to ArrestBlair.org have been for less than £1,000.