Friday 23 February 2018

Mandela 'felt betrayed' by Blair

Nelson Mandela 'felt betrayed' by the invasion of Iraq
Nelson Mandela 'felt betrayed' by the invasion of Iraq

Nelson Mandela felt so betrayed by Tony Blair's decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq that he launched a fiery tirade against him in a phone call to a British Cabinet minister, it has emerged.

Peter Hain, a lifelong anti-Apartheid campaigner who knows the ex-South African president well, said Mr Mandela was "breathing fire" down the line in protest against the 2003 military action.

He felt all the good work done by Mr Blair's government in Africa and elsewhere was "blown out of the water", Mr Hain said of the conversation, revealed in his new biography of Mandela.

The trenchant criticisms were made in a formal call to the Minister's office, not in a private capacity, and Mr Blair was informed of what had been said, Mr Hain said.

"He rang me up when I was a Cabinet minister in 2003, after the invasion," he told the Press Association.

"He said: 'A big mistake Peter, a very big mistake. It is wrong. Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally'.

"I had never heard Nelson Mandela so angry and frustrated. He clearly felt very, very strongly that the decision that the prime minister had taken - and that I as a member of the Cabinet had been party to - was fundamentally wrong and he told me it would destroy all the good things that Tony Blair and we, as a government, had done in progressive policy terms across the world.

"He was always full of praise for the way our government had trebled the overseas aid and development budget for Africa," he said.

"He just felt that all of this had been completely blown out of the water by the Iraq invasion.

"I know Nelson Mandela quite well. He was virtually breathing fire down the phone on this and feeling a sense of betrayal. It was quite striking."

Press Association

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