You are now doubt aware of the kerfuffle that has surrounded the launch of Tony Blair’s autobiography and his donation of the advance and global receipts for the book to the Royal British Legion. If you aren’t, here’s the story.

I’m quite content to leave Blair’s motivation alone – I’m not really interested in whether his motivation is self serving or charitable. Although for me, giving away five million quid seems pretty charitable.

But I would like to call to account the mountain of Bloggers and radio phone-in pundits who have questioned Blair’s manipulation of the media.

There is no doubt about Blair’s PR skills. Without the donation, the book wouldn't have been the lead story on the six o'clock news, or the subject so so much debate across the print press and the Blogosphere and Twitter.

So, lots of publicity for publicity's sake?

No; quite the reverse. The story has to mention the donation by definition. As a result, many people who otherwise might not have bought the book will now do so. For many people, it's much more palatable to put your money into the pocket of the RBL than a 'slimy former PM and spin king', as one caller to Radio Five put it yesterday.

So what’s the net effect? Huge publicity and increased sales resulting in a much larger chance of the global receipts recouping Blair's very generous advance and even adding to it with extra sales. Can you imagine the nightmare Blair would have had if is book hadn't met the advance? (For those who don’t know, an advance is given to an author before publication of a book and if the book doesn’t sell enough copies to recoup that advance, the balance is returned to the publisher.)

This way a cause that Blair clearly believes is deserving gets vastly more money than it would have received had his donation been anonymous; thanks to his PR skills or those of his advisers.
Whatever his motivations, Blair has clearly lost none of his understanding of spin.

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