Blair “thinking about” calling off Waterstone’s signing
06.09.10 | Victoria Gallagher

Violence at Tony Blair’s book signing in Dublin on Saturday (4th September) has prompted the former prime minister to consider calling off the planned book signing at Waterstone’s Piccadilly on Wednesday.The protests received widespread coverage in the national press this weekend, after eggs and shoes were thrown at the former prime minister.

However Cornerstone publicity director Charlotte Bush insisted that it was “an excellent first signing for the book”. She added that over 700 books made the event “officially the biggest political signing ever in Ireland – bigger than Bill Clinton (650 copies)”. Blair met 250 customers, while there were 400 customers in the queue “so double the amount of protestors”, she said. Audience figures for Blair’s interview on “The Late Late Show” peaked at 1m, nearly a quarter of Ireland’s population and over 50% higher than the programme’s slot average, she said.

Neverthless, Blair is reported to have told ITV1’s new Daybreak programme this morning that he would make a decision later today on whether to pull out of Wednesday’s book signing at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly , he said: “To be frank about it, I am concerned. I do not want to put everyone through a lot of cost and hassle on this Wednesday’s signing so I am thinking about that.”

According to the Guardian, speaking later on Sky News, Blair added: “I don’t want to put the public to a lot of hassle, the police to a lot of cost for what after all is a book signing. I think it’s sad if you can’t sign a book without people physically trying to prevent you. As we saw in Dublin there are hundreds more who want to come and have their book signed than want to cause the protest. But we’ll see. We’ll take a decision later today.”

In respone to the quotes, Bush said there was no news at present. Waterstone’s declined to comment.

Four were arrested after the protest outside Eason’s bookshop on Saturday, with one activist attempting to make a citizen’s arrest, the Guardian reports. Anti-war protesters held a demonstration while around 200 people met Blair inside the shop. However others came to praise the former PM for his work in Northern Ireland.

The signing was Blair’s first for the book, with a second lined up at Waterstone’s Piccadilly branch on Wednesday, for which strict security measures have been put in place. However the Stop the War Coalition last month called for a boycott of Waterstone’s and said it will hold protests outside every branch of the retailer on the day of the signing.

A Journey (Hutchinson) was published on 1st September and has since received mixed reviews. It became Waterstone’s fastest-selling autobiography ever on its first day of publication, with the retailer seeing “phenomenal” sales.

A Facebook page, which has attracted 6,562 members, shows pictures of the memoir displayed in the crime sections of bookshops. The group entitled ‘Subversively move Tony Blair’s memoirs’ asks bookshops to “think twice about where they categorise our generation’s greatest war criminal”.

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