Thom Yorke: Tony Blair’s “advisers tried to blackmail me”

Incident allegedly occurred in 2003

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Thom Yorke has claimed that advisers of Tony Blair “tried to blackmail” him into meeting with the former British Prime Minister.

Speaking in interview with Paris-based magazine Télérama, Yorke claims that the incident took place when he was a spokesperson for climate change campaign The Big Ask in 2003.

The musician was working on behalf of environmental organisation Friends of the Earth to lobby politicians on the issue of climate change.


“We were in the midst of the Iraq War and The Big Ask campaign was proving very successful,” explains Yorke in the interview. “So Blair said: ‘‘I should meet this guy’’. Then Blair’s advisors tried to blackmail me, saying: ‘‘if you don’t agree to meet the Prime Minister, Friends of the Earth will be denied all access to him.’’ because of the Iraq war, I didn’t want to do it. I felt it was morally unacceptable for me to be photographed with Blair.

Elsewhere in the Télérama interview, Yorke explains how he has responded to climate change as a musician, including turning vegetarian and forming a carbon neutral touring initiative with Radiohead.

Yorke recounted becoming aware of climate change in the late 90’s. He has since worked with Greenpeace, Friends of The Earth and

Asked whether he would consider writing a protest song, Yorke replied, “if I was going to write a protest song about climate change in 2015, it would be shit.”

“In the 60’s, you could write songs that were like calls to arms, and it would work. Well, kind… ish. It’s much harder to do that now,” he said. “If I was going to write a protest song about climate change in 2015, it would be shit. It’s not like one song or one piece of art or one book is going to change someone’s mind. However, things happen gradually and accusatively and that is when it snowballs.”

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