Tony Blair
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Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the ...
from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as
Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest political party not in government, typical in countries utilizing the parliamentary system form of government. The leader of the ...
from 1994 to 1997, and had served in various shadow cabinet posts from 1987 to 1994. Blair was the
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this term refers only to members of the lower house since upper house members o ...
(MP) for
Sedgefield Sedgefield is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in County Durham (district), County Durham, England. It had a population of 5,211 as at the 2011 census. It has the Sedgefield Racecourse, only operating racecourse in Co ...
from 1983 to 2007. He is the second longest serving prime minister in modern history after
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. S ...
, and is the longest serving Labour politician to have held the office. Blair attended the independent school
Fettes College Fettes College () is a co-educational Independent school (UK), independent Boarding school, boarding and day school in Edinburgh, Scotland, with over two-thirds of its pupils in residence on campus. The school was originally a boarding school f ...
, and studied law at
St John's College, Oxford St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldes ...
, where he became a barrister. He became involved in Labour politics and was elected to the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
in 1983 for the Sedgefield constituency in
County Durham County Durham ( ), officially simply Durham,UK General Acts 1997 c. 23Lieutenancies Act 1997 Schedule 1(3). From legislation.gov.uk, retrieved 6 April 2022. is a ceremonial county in North East England.North East Assembly About North East Eng ...
. As a
backbencher In Westminster system, Westminster and other parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a member of parliament (MP) or a legislator who occupies no Minister (government), governmental office and is not a Frontbencher, frontbench spokesperson i ...
, Blair supported moving the party to the political centre of British politics. He was appointed to
Neil Kinnock Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock (born 28 March 1942) is a British former politician. As a member of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, he served as a Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament from 1970 United Kingdom ge ...
's shadow cabinet in 1988 and was appointed
shadow home secretary In British politics, the Shadow Home Secretary (formally known as the Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department) is the person within the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (UK), shadow cabinet who shadows the Home Secretary; this effecti ...
by John Smith in 1992. Following the death of Smith in 1994, Blair won the 1994 Labour Party leadership election to succeed him. His tenure as leader began with a historic rebranding of the party, who began to use the campaign label
New Labour New Labour was a period in the History of the Labour Party (UK), history of the British Labour Party (UK), Labour Party from the mid to late 1990s until 2010 under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The name dates from a conferenc ...
. The name dates from a conference slogan first used by the party in 1994, later seen in a draft
manifesto A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or Consensus decision-making, publi ...
which was published in 1996 and titled '' New Labour, New Life for Britain,'' and was presented as the brand of a newly reformed party. Blair was appointed prime minister after Labour won the 1997 general election, its largest
landslide Landslides, also known as landslips, are several forms of mass wasting that may include a wide range of ground movements, such as rockfalls, deep-seated grade (slope), slope failures, mudflows, and debris flows. Landslides occur in a variety of ...
general election victory in history, becoming the youngest prime minister of the 20th century. During his first term, Blair enacted constitutional reforms, and significantly increased public spending on healthcare and education, while also introducing controversial market-based reforms in these areas. In addition, Blair saw the introduction of a
minimum wage A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their employees—the price floor below which employees may not sell their labor. List of countries by minimum wage, Most countries had introduced minimum wage legislation b ...
, tuition fees for higher education,
constitutional reform A constitutional amendment is a modification of the constitution of a polity, organization or other type of Legal entity, entity. Amendments are often interwoven into the relevant sections of an existing constitution, directly altering the text. ...
such as devolution in Scotland and Wales and progress in the
Northern Ireland peace process The Northern Ireland peace process includes the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire, the end of most of the violence of the Troubles, the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and subsequent political developm ...
. On foreign policy, Blair oversaw British interventions in
Kosovo Kosovo ( sq, Kosova or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово ), officially the Republic of Kosovo ( sq, Republika e Kosovës, links=no; sr, Република Косово, Republika Kosovo, links=no), is a international recognition of Kosovo, partiall ...
in 1999 and
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone,)]. officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea surrounds the northern half of the nation. Covering a total area of , Sierra ...
in 2000, which were generally perceived as successful. Blair won another landslide re-election in 2001 United Kingdom general election, 2001. Three months into his second term, Blair's premiership was shaped by the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, resulting in the start of the
war on terror The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is an ongoing international Counterterrorism, counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks. The main targets of the campa ...
. Blair supported the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration by ensuring that the
British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as His Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military, military forces responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its British Overseas Territories, Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies. They al ...
participated in the
War in Afghanistan War in Afghanistan, Afghan war, or Afghan civil war may refer to: *Conquest of Afghanistan by Alexander the Great (330 BC – 327 BC) *Muslim conquests of Afghanistan (637–709) *Conquest of Afghanistan by the Mongol Empire (13th century), see als ...
, to overthrow the
Taliban The Taliban (; ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students or 'seekers'), which also refers to itself by its state (polity), state name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a Deobandi Islamic fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalist, m ...
, destroy
al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda (; , ) is an Islamic extremism, Islamic extremist organization composed of Salafist jihadists. Its members are mostly composed of Arab, Arabs, but also include other peoples. Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military ta ...
, and capture
Osama bin Laden Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden (10 March 1957 – 2 May 2011) was a Saudi-born extremist militant who founded al-Qaeda and served as its leader from 1988 until Killing of Osama bin Laden, his death in 2011. Ideologically a Pan-Islamism ...
. In 2003, Blair supported the
2003 invasion of Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Ba'athist Iraq, Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one mont ...
and had the British Armed Forces participate in the
Iraq War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Iraq War , partof = the Iraq conflict (2003–present), Iraq conflict and the War on terror , image = Iraq War montage.png , image_size = 300px , caption ...
, claiming that
Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein ( ; ar, صدام حسين, Ṣaddām Ḥusayn; 28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was an Iraqi politician who served as the fifth president of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolution ...
's regime possessed
weapons of mass destruction A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a chemical weapon, chemical, biological agent, biological, Radiological weapon, radiological, nuclear weapon, nuclear, or any other weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to numerous individuals o ...
(WMDs); no WMDs were ever found in Iraq. Blair was re-elected for a third term with another landslide in
2005 File:2005 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico; the Funeral of Pope John Paul II is held in Vatican City; "Me at the zoo", the first video ever to be uploaded to YouTube; Eris (dwarf planet), Er ...
, but with a substantially reduced majority. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars continued during his third term, and in 2006, Blair announced he would resign within a year. Blair resigned as Labour leader on 24 June 2007 and as prime minister on 27 June 2007, and was succeeded by
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He previously served as Chance ...
, his
chancellor Chancellor ( la, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the or lattice work screens of a basilica or law cou ...
. After leaving office, Blair gave up his seat and was appointed Special Envoy of the
Quartet on the Middle East The Quartet on the Middle East or Middle East Quartet, sometimes called the Diplomatic Quartet or Madrid Quartet or simply the Quartet, is a foursome of nations and international and Supranational union, supranational entities involved in me ...
, a diplomatic post which he held until 2015. He has been the executive chairman of the
Tony Blair Institute for Global Change The Tony Blair Institute (TBI), commonly known by its trade name the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, is a non-profit organisation set up by former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to provide advice to gov ...
since 2016, and has made occasional political interventions. In 2009, Blair was awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of the United States, along with the Congressional Gold Medal. It is an award bestowed by the president of the United States to recognize people who have made "an especially meri ...
by
George W. Bush George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, Bush family, and son of the 41st ...
. He was
knighted A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In ...
by Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II, her death in 2022. She was queen ...
in 2021. At various points in his premiership, Blair was among both the most popular and unpopular figures in UK history. As prime minister, he achieved the highest recorded approval ratings during his first few years in office, but also one of the lowest such ratings during and after the Iraq War. Blair had notable electoral successes and reforms, and he is usually rated as above average in historical rankings and public opinion of British prime ministers.


Early years

Blair was born at Queen Mary Maternity Home in
Edinburgh Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...
, Scotland, on 6 May 1953. He was the second son of Leo and Hazel (' Corscadden) Blair. Leo Blair was the illegitimate son of two entertainers and was adopted as a baby by
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) is the most populous city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ' ...
shipyard worker James Blair and his wife, Mary. Hazel Corscadden was the daughter of George Corscadden, a butcher and Orangeman who moved to Glasgow in 1916. In 1923, he returned to (and later died in)
Ballyshannon Ballyshannon () is a town in County Donegal, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It is located at the southern end of the county where the N3 road (Ireland), N3 from Dublin ends and the N15 road (Ireland), N15 crosses the River Erne. Incorporated in 1 ...
, County Donegal, in
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional provinces of Ireland, Irish provinces. It is made up of nine Counties of Ireland, counties: si ...
. In Ballyshannon, Corscadden's wife, Sarah Margaret (née Lipsett), gave birth above the family's grocery shop to Blair's mother, Hazel. Blair has an older brother, Sir William Blair, a High Court judge, and a younger sister, Sarah. Blair's first home was with his family at Paisley Terrace in the Willowbrae area of Edinburgh. During this period, his father worked as a junior tax inspector whilst also studying for a law degree from the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in Post-nominal letters, post-nominals) is a Public university, public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted ...
. Blair's first relocation was when he was nineteen months old. At the end of 1954, Blair's parents and their two sons moved from Paisley Terrace to
Adelaide Adelaide ( ) is the list of Australian capital cities, capital city of South Australia, the state's largest city and the list of cities in Australia by population, fifth-most populous city in Australia. "Adelaide" may refer to either Greater A ...
,
South Australia South Australia (commonly abbreviated as SA) is a States and territories of Australia, state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of , it is the fourth-largest o ...
. His father lectured in law at the
University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide (informally Adelaide University) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. Th ...
. It was when in Australia that Blair's sister Sarah was born. The Blairs lived in the suburb of
Dulwich Dulwich (; ) is an area in south London, England. The settlement is mostly in the London Borough of Southwark, with parts in the London Borough of Lambeth, and consists of Dulwich Village, East Dulwich, West Dulwich, and the Southwark half of ...
close to the university. The family returned to the United Kingdom in the summer of 1958. They lived for a time with Hazel's mother and stepfather (William McClay) at their home in
Stepps Stepps is a settlement in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, near the north-eastern outskirts of Glasgow. Its recently upgraded amenities include a new primary school, library and sports facilities. The town retains a historic heart around its church in ...
on the outskirts of north-east Glasgow. Blair's father accepted a job as a lecturer at
Durham University Durham University (legally the University of Durham) is a collegiate university, collegiate public university, public research university in Durham, England, Durham, England, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832 and incorporated by royal charte ...
, and thus moved the family to
Durham, England Durham ( , locally ), is a cathedral city and civil parish on the River Wear, County Durham, England. It is an administrative centre of the County Durham District, which is a successor to the historic County Palatine of Durham (which is differ ...
. Aged five, this marked the beginning of a long association Blair was to have with Durham. Since his childhood, Blair has been a fan of
Newcastle United Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional Association football, football club, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, that plays in the Premier League – the top flight of English football league system, English football. The club was ...
football club.


Education and legal career

With his parents basing their family in Durham, Blair attended the Chorister School from 1961 to 1966. Aged 13, he was sent to spend his school term-time boarding at
Fettes College Fettes College () is a co-educational Independent school (UK), independent Boarding school, boarding and day school in Edinburgh, Scotland, with over two-thirds of its pupils in residence on campus. The school was originally a boarding school f ...
in Edinburgh from 1966 to 1971. Blair is reported to have hated his time at Fettes. His teachers were unimpressed with him; his biographer, John Rentoul, reported that "All the teachers I spoke to when researching the book said he was a complete pain in the backside and they were very glad to see the back of him." Blair reportedly modelled himself on
Mick Jagger Sir Michael Philip Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English singer and songwriter who has achieved international fame as the lead vocalist and one of the founder members of the rock band the Rolling Stones. Jagger–Richards, His ongoing song ...
, lead singer of
The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones are an English Rock music, rock band formed in London in 1962. Active for six decades, they are one of the most popular and enduring bands of the album era, rock era. In the early 1960s, the Rolling Stones pioneered the g ...
. During his time there he met Charlie Falconer (a pupil at the rival
Edinburgh Academy The Edinburgh Academy is an Independent school (United Kingdom), independent day school in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was opened in 1824. The original building, on Henderson Row in the city's New Town, Edinburgh, New Town, is now part of the Se ...
), whom he later appointed
lord chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
. Leaving Fettes College at the age of 18, Blair next spent a gap year in London attempting to find fame as a rock music promoter. In 1972, at the age of 19, Blair matriculated at
St John's College, Oxford St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldes ...
, reading
Jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and they also seek to achieve a deeper understanding of legal reasoning ...
for three years. As a student, he played guitar and sang in a rock band called Ugly Rumours, and performed some
stand-up comedy Stand-up comedy is a comedic performance to a live audience in which the performer addresses the audience directly from the stage. The performer is known as a comedian, a comic or a stand-up. Stand-up comedy consists of one-liners, storie ...
, including parodying James T. Kirk as a character named ''Captain Kink''. He was influenced by fellow student and
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, ...
priest Peter Thomson, who awakened his religious faith and left-wing politics. While at Oxford, Blair has stated that he was briefly a
Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch of Marxism developed by Ukrainian-Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and some other members of the Left Opposition and Fourth International. Trotsky self-identified as an Orthodox Marxism, orthod ...
, after reading the first volume of
Isaac Deutscher Isaac; grc, Ἰσαάκ, Isaák; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, Isḥāq; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs of the Israelites and an important figure in the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, a ...
's biography of
Leon Trotsky Lev Davidovich Bronstein. ( – 21 August 1940), better known as Leon Trotsky; uk, link= no, Лев Давидович Троцький; also transliterated ''Lyev'', ''Trotski'', ''Trotskij'', ''Trockij'' and ''Trotzky''. (), was a Russian M ...
, which was "like a light going on". He graduated from Oxford at the age of 22 in 1975 with a second-class Honours B.A. in jurisprudence. In 1975, while Blair was at Oxford, his mother Hazel died aged 52 of thyroid cancer, which greatly affected him. After Oxford, Blair then became a member of
Lincoln's Inn The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are Call to the Bar, called to the Bar. (The other three are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray ...
and was called to the Bar and became a pupil barrister. He met his future wife, Cherie Booth (daughter of the actor Tony Booth) at the chambers founded by Derry Irvine (who was to be Blair's first lord Chancellor), 11 King's Bench Walk Chambers.


Early political career

Blair joined the Labour Party shortly after graduating from Oxford in 1975. In the early 1980s, he was involved in Labour politics in
Hackney South and Shoreditch Hackney South and Shoreditch is a List of United Kingdom Parliament constituencies, constituency represented in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, UK Parliament since 2005 by Meg ...
, where he aligned himself with the "
soft left The soft left is a faction within the British Labour Party (UK), Labour Party. The term "soft left" was coined to distinguish the mainstream left of Michael Foot from the hard left of Tony Benn. History The distinction between hard and soft le ...
" of the party. He put himself forward as a candidate for the
Hackney council Hackney London Borough Council is the local government authority for the London Borough of Hackney, London, England, one of 32 London borough councils. The council is unusual in the United Kingdom local government system in that its executive fun ...
elections of 1982 in Queensbridge ward, a safe Labour area, but was not selected. In 1982, Blair was selected as the Labour Party candidate for the safe
Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
seat of
Beaconsfield Beaconsfield ( ) is a market town A market town is a Human settlement, settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages, a market right, which allowed it to host a regular marketplace, market; th ...
, where there was a forthcoming by-election. Although Blair lost the Beaconsfield by-election and Labour's share of the vote fell by 10 percentage points, he acquired a profile within the party. Despite his defeat, William Russell, political correspondent for ''
The Glasgow Herald ''The Herald'' is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. ''The Herald'' is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from ''The Glasgow Herald'' in ...
'', described Blair as "a very good candidate", while acknowledging that the result was "a disaster" for the Labour Party. In contrast to his later
centrism Centrism is a political outlook or position involving acceptance or support of a balance of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy while opposing political changes that would result in a significant shift of society strongly to Left-w ...
, Blair made it clear in a letter he wrote to Labour leader
Michael Foot Michael Mackintosh Foot (23 July 19133 March 2010) was a Labour Party (UK), British Labour Party politician who served as Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Leader from 1980 to 1983. Foot began his career as a journalist on Tribune (magaz ...
in July 1982 (published in 2006) that he had "come to Socialism through Marxism" and considered himself on the left. Like
Tony Benn Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn (3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014), known between 1960 and 1963 as Viscount Stansgate, was a British politician, writer and diarist who served as a Cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s. A member of the Labour Party, ...
, Blair believed that the "Labour right" was bankrupt: "Socialism ultimately must appeal to the better minds of the people. You cannot do that if you are tainted overmuch with a pragmatic period in power." Yet, he saw the
hard left In the United Kingdom, the hard left are the Left-wing politics, left-wing political movements and ideas outside the mainstream Centre-left politics, centre-left.* * Term The term was first used in the context of debates within both the Labou ...
as no better, saying: With a general election due, Blair had not been selected as a candidate anywhere. He was invited to stand again in Beaconsfield, and was initially inclined to agree but was advised by his head of chambers Derry Irvine to find somewhere else which might be winnable. The situation was complicated by the fact that Labour was fighting a legal action against planned boundary changes, and had selected candidates on the basis of previous boundaries. When the legal challenge failed, the party had to rerun all selections on the new boundaries; most were based on existing seats, but unusually in County Durham a new
Sedgefield Sedgefield is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in County Durham (district), County Durham, England. It had a population of 5,211 as at the 2011 census. It has the Sedgefield Racecourse, only operating racecourse in Co ...
constituency had been created out of Labour-voting areas which had no obvious predecessor seat. The selection for Sedgefield did not begin until after the 1983 general election was called. Blair's initial inquiries discovered that the left was trying to arrange the selection for Les Huckfield, sitting MP for Nuneaton who was trying elsewhere; several sitting MPs displaced by boundary changes were also interested in it. When he discovered the Trimdon branch had not yet made a nomination, Blair visited them and won the support of the branch secretary John Burton, and with Burton's help was nominated by the branch. At the last minute, he was added to the shortlist and won the selection over Huckfield. It was the last candidate selection made by Labour before the election, and was made after the Labour Party had issued biographies of all its candidates ("Labour's Election Who's Who"). John Burton became Blair's election agent and one of his most trusted and longest-standing allies. Blair's election literature in the 1983 general election endorsed left-wing policies that Labour advocated in the early 1980s. He called for Britain to leave the
EEC The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957,Today the largely rewritten treaty continues in force as the ''Treaty on the functioning of the European Union'', as renamed by the Lis ...
as early as the 1970s, though he had told his selection conference that he personally favoured continuing membership and voted "Yes" in the 1975 referendum on the subject. He opposed the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1986 but supported the ERM by 1989. He was a member of the
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is an organisation that advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United Kingdom, international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nucle ...
, despite never strongly being in favour of
unilateral nuclear disarmament __NOTOC__ Unilateralism is any doctrine or agenda that supports one-sided action. Such action may be in disregard for other parties, or as an expression of a commitment toward a direction which other parties may find disagreeable. As a word, ''un ...
. Blair was helped on the campaign trail by soap opera actress Pat Phoenix, his father-in-law's girlfriend. At the age of thirty, he was elected as MP for Sedgefield in 1983; despite the party's landslide defeat at the general election. In his
maiden speech A maiden speech is the first speech given by a newly elected or appointed member of a legislature or parliament. Traditions surrounding maiden speeches vary from country to country. In many Westminster system governments, there is a convention tha ...
in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
on 6 July 1983, Blair stated, "I am a socialist not through reading a textbook that has caught my intellectual fancy, nor through unthinking tradition, but because I believe that, at its best, socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral. It stands for cooperation, not confrontation; for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality." Once elected, Blair's political ascent was rapid. He received his first front-bench appointment in 1984 as assistant
Treasury A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a Finance minister, finance ministry. *A place or location where treasure, such as currency or precious items are kept. These can be State ownership, state or roya ...
spokesman. In May 1985, he appeared on BBC's '' Question Time'', arguing that the Conservative Government's Public Order White Paper was a threat to civil liberties. Blair demanded an inquiry into the
Bank of England The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the Kingdom of England, English Government's banker, and still one of the bankers fo ...
's decision to rescue the collapsed
Johnson Matthey Johnson Matthey is a British multinational speciality chemicals and sustainable Specific definitions of sustainability are difficult to agree on and have varied in the literature and over time. The concept of sustainability can be used to g ...
bank in October 1985. By this time, Blair was aligned with the reforming tendencies in the party (headed by leader
Neil Kinnock Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock (born 28 March 1942) is a British former politician. As a member of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, he served as a Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament from 1970 United Kingdom ge ...
) and was promoted after the 1987 election to the Shadow Trade and Industry team as spokesman on the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and constitutes, alongside Canary Wharf, the primary central bu ...
.


Leadership roles

In 1987, he stood for election to the Shadow Cabinet, receiving 71 votes. When Kinnock resigned after a fourth consecutive Conservative victory in the 1992 general election, Blair became
shadow home secretary In British politics, the Shadow Home Secretary (formally known as the Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department) is the person within the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet (UK), shadow cabinet who shadows the Home Secretary; this effecti ...
under John Smith. The old guard argued that trends showed they were regaining strength under Smith's strong leadership. Meanwhile, the breakaway SDP faction had merged with the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics ...
; the resulting Liberal Democrats seemed to pose a major threat to the Labour base. Blair, the leader of the modernising faction, had an entirely different vision, arguing that the long-term trends had to be reversed. The Labour Party was too locked into a base that was shrinking, since it was based on the working-class, on trade unions, and on residents of subsidised council housing. The rapidly growing middle-class was largely ignored, especially the more ambitious working-class families. They aspired to middle-class status but accepted the Conservative argument that Labour was holding ambitious people back with its levelling-down policies. They increasingly saw Labour in terms defined by the opposition, regarding higher taxes and higher interest rates. The steps towards what would become New Labour were procedural but essential. Calling on the slogan "
One member, one vote In the Parliamentary system, parliamentary politics of the United Kingdom and Canada, one member, one vote (OMOV) is a method of selecting party leaders, and determining party policy, by a direct vote of the members of a political party. Traditiona ...
", John Smith (with limited input from Blair) secured an end to the trade union block vote for Westminster candidate selection at the 1993 conference. But Blair and the modernisers wanted Smith to go further still, and called for radical adjustment of Party goals by repealing "Clause IV," the historic commitment to
nationalisation Nationalization (nationalisation in British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere". More narrowly, it can refer speci ...
of industry. This would be achieved in 1995.


Leader of the Opposition

John Smith died suddenly in 1994 of a heart attack. Blair defeated
John Prescott John Leslie Prescott, Baron Prescott (born 31 May 1938) is a British politician who served as Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and as First Secretary of State from 2001 to 2007. A member of the Labour Party (UK), ...
and
Margaret Beckett Dame Margaret Mary Beckett (''née'' Jackson; born 15 January 1943) is a British politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Derby South (UK Parliament constituency), Derby South since ...
in the subsequent leadership election and became
Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest political party not in government, typical in countries utilizing the parliamentary system form of government. The leader of the ...
. As is customary for the holder of that office, Blair was appointed a
Privy Councillor A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to ...
. During his speech at the 1994 Labour Party conference, Blair announced a forthcoming proposal to update the party's objects and objectives, which was widely interpreted to relate to replacing Clause IV of the party's constitution with a new statement of aims and values. This involved the deletion of the party's stated commitment to "the common ownership of the means of production and exchange", which was generally understood to mean wholesale nationalisation of major industries. At a special conference in April 1995, the clause was replaced by a statement that the party is "
democratic socialist Democratic socialism is a Left-wing politics, left-wing political philosophy that supports political democracy and some form of a socially owned economy, with a particular emphasis on economic democracy, workplace democracy, and workers' self- ...
", and Blair also claimed to be a "democratic socialist" himself in the same year. However, the move away from nationalisation in the old Clause IV made many on the left-wing of the Labour Party feel that Labour was moving away from traditional socialist principles of nationalisation set out in 1918, and was seen by them as part of a shift of the party towards "
New Labour New Labour was a period in the History of the Labour Party (UK), history of the British Labour Party (UK), Labour Party from the mid to late 1990s until 2010 under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The name dates from a conferenc ...
". He inherited the Labour leadership at a time when the party was ascendant over the Conservatives in the opinion polls, since the Conservative government's reputation in monetary policy was left in tatters by the
Black Wednesday Black Wednesday (or the 1992 Sterling crisis) occurred on 16 September 1992 when the Government of the United Kingdom, UK Government was forced to withdraw pound sterling, sterling from the European Monetary System, European Exchange Rate M ...
economic disaster of September 1992. Blair's election as leader saw Labour support surge higher still in spite of the continuing economic recovery and fall in unemployment that the Conservative government (led by
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997, and as Member of Parliament ...
) had overseen since the end of the 1990–92
recession In economics Economics () is the social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the b ...
. At the 1996 Labour Party conference, Blair stated that his three top priorities on coming to office were "education, education, and education". Aided by the unpopularity of John Major's Conservative government (itself deeply divided over the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
), "New Labour" won a landslide victory at the 1997 general election, ending eighteen years of Conservative Party rule, with the heaviest Conservative defeat since
1906 Events January–February * January 12 – Persian Constitutional Revolution: A nationalistic coalition of merchants, religious leaders and intellectuals in Persia forces the shah Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar to grant a constitution, a ...
. According to diaries released by
Paddy Ashdown Jeremy John Durham Ashdown, Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, (27 February 194122 December 2018), better known as Paddy Ashdown, was a British politician and diplomat who served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999. Internati ...
, during Smith's leadership of the Labour Party, there were discussions with Ashdown about forming a
coalition A coalition is a group formed when two or more people or groups temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. The term is most frequently used to denote a formation of power in political or economical spaces. Formation According to ''A Gui ...
government if the next general election resulted in a
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures primarily under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no single political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an Majority, absolute majority o ...
. Ashdown also claimed that Blair was a supporter of
proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical (e.g. states, regions) and political divi ...
(PR). In addition to Ashdown, Liberal Democrat MPs
Menzies Campbell Walter Menzies Campbell, Baron Campbell of Pittenweem, (; born 22 May 1941), often known as Ming Campbell, is a British Liberal Democrat politician A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking an el ...
and Alan Beith were earmarked for places in the cabinet if a Labour-Lib Dem coalition was formed. Blair was forced to back down on these proposals because John Prescott and
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He previously served as Chance ...
opposed the PR system, and many members of the Shadow Cabinet were worried about concessions being made towards the Lib Dems. In the event, virtually every opinion poll since late-1992 put Labour ahead with enough support to form an overall majority.


Prime Minister (1997–2007)

Blair became the
prime minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the ...
on 2 May 1997. Aged 43, Blair became the youngest person to become prime minister since
Lord Liverpool Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, (7 June 1770 – 4 December 1828) was a British Tory statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of t ...
became prime minister aged 42 in 1812, and until
Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak (; born 12 May 1980) is a British politician who has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party since October 2022. He previously held two Cabinet of ...
became prime minister in 2022. He was also the first prime minister born after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
and the accession of Elizabeth II to the throne. With victories in 1997, 2001 United Kingdom general election, 2001, and
2005 File:2005 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico; the Funeral of Pope John Paul II is held in Vatican City; "Me at the zoo", the first video ever to be uploaded to YouTube; Eris (dwarf planet), Er ...
, Blair was the Labour Party's longest-serving prime minister, and the first and only person to date to lead the party to three consecutive general election victories.


Northern Ireland

His contribution towards assisting the
Northern Ireland peace process The Northern Ireland peace process includes the events leading up to the 1994 Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire, the end of most of the violence of the Troubles, the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and subsequent political developm ...
by helping to negotiate the
Good Friday Agreement The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement ( ga, Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: or ), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of The Troubles, a po ...
(after 30 years of conflict) was widely recognised. Following the
Omagh bombing The Omagh bombing was a car bombing on 15 August 1998 in the town of Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It was carried out by the Real Irish Republican Army (Real IRA), a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) splinter group who oppose ...
on 15 August 1998, by members of the Real IRA opposed to the peace process, which killed 29 people and wounded hundreds, Blair visited the
County Tyrone County Tyrone (; ) is one of the six Counties of Northern Ireland, counties of Northern Ireland, one of the nine counties of Ulster and one of the thirty-two traditional Counties of Ireland, counties of Ireland. It is no longer used as an admini ...
town and met with victims at
Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast The Royal Victoria Hospital commonly known as "the Royal", the "RVH" or "the Royal Belfast", is a hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is managed by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. The hospital has a Regional Virus Centre, which ...
.


Military intervention and the War on Terror

In his first six years in office, Blair ordered British troops into combat five times, more than any other prime minister in British history. This included Iraq in both
1998 1998 was designated as the ''International Year of the Ocean''. Events January * January 6 – The ''Lunar Prospector'' spacecraft is launched into orbit around the Moon, and later finds evidence for frozen water, in soil in permanently sh ...
and
2003 File:2003 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: The crew of STS-107 perished when the Space Shuttle Columbia Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, disintegrated during reentry into Atmosphere of Earth, Earth's atmosphere; SARS became an 2002– ...
,
Kosovo Kosovo ( sq, Kosova or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово ), officially the Republic of Kosovo ( sq, Republika e Kosovës, links=no; sr, Република Косово, Republika Kosovo, links=no), is a international recognition of Kosovo, partiall ...
(1999),
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone,)]. officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea surrounds the northern half of the nation. Covering a total area of , Sierra ...
(2000) and War in Afghanistan (2001–2021), Afghanistan (2001). The Kosovo War, which Blair had advocated on moral grounds, was initially a failure when it relied solely on air strikes; the threat of a ground offensive convinced Serbia's Slobodan Milošević to withdraw. Blair had been a major advocate for a ground offensive, which
Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton (Birth name, né Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He previously served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 ...
was reluctant to do, and ordered that 50,000 soldiers – most of the available British Army – should be made ready for action. The following year, the limited Operation Palliser in Sierra Leone swiftly swung the tide against the rebel forces; before deployment, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone had been on the verge of collapse. Palliser had been intended as an evacuation mission but Brigadier David Richards was able to convince Blair to allow him to expand the role; at the time, Richards' action was not known and Blair was assumed to be behind it. Blair ordered Operation Barras, a highly successful SAS/ Parachute Regiment strike to rescue hostages from a Sierra Leone rebel group. Journalist
Andrew Marr Andrew William Stevenson Marr (born 31 July 1959) is a British journalist and broadcaster. Beginning his career as a political commentator, he subsequently edited ''The Independent'' newspaper from 1996 to 1998 and was political editor of BBC N ...
has argued that the success of ground attacks, real and threatened, over air strikes alone was influential on how Blair planned the Iraq War, and that the success of the first three wars Blair fought "played to his sense of himself as a moral war leader". When asked in 2010 if the success of Palliser may have "embolden dBritish politicians" to think of military action as a policy option, General Sir David Richards admitted there "might be something in that". From the start of the
War on Terror The war on terror, officially the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), is an ongoing international Counterterrorism, counterterrorism military campaign initiated by the United States following the September 11 attacks. The main targets of the campa ...
in 2001, Blair strongly supported the
foreign policy A State (polity), state's foreign policy or external policy (as opposed to internal or domestic policy) is its objectives and activities in relation to its interactions with other states, unions, and other political entities, whether bilaterall ...
of
George W. Bush George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, Bush family, and son of the 41st ...
, participating in the
2001 invasion of Afghanistan In late 2001, the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U ...
and
2003 invasion of Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Ba'athist Iraq, Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one mont ...
. The invasion of Iraq was particularly controversial, as it attracted widespread public opposition and 139 of Blair's own MPs opposed it. As a result, he faced criticism over the policy itself and the circumstances of the decision.
Alastair Campbell Alastair John Campbell (born 25 May 1957) is a British journalist, author, strategist, broadcaster and activist known for his roles during Tony Blair's leadership of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party. Campbell worked as Blair's spokesman and ...
described Blair's statement that the intelligence on WMDs was "beyond doubt" as his "assessment of the assessment that was given to him." In 2009, Blair stated that he would have supported removing
Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein ( ; ar, صدام حسين, Ṣaddām Ḥusayn; 28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was an Iraqi politician who served as the fifth president of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolution ...
from power even in the face of proof that he had no such weapons. Playwright
Harold Pinter Harold Pinter (; 10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008) was a British people, British playwright, screenwriter, theatre director, director and actor. A List of Nobel laureates in Literature, Nobel Prize winner, Pinter was one of the mos ...
and former Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad Mahathir bin Mohamad ( ms, محاضير بن محمد, label=Jawi alphabet, Jawi, script=arab, italic=unset; ; born 10 July 1925) is a Malaysian politician, author, and physician who served as the 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia. He h ...
accused Blair of war crimes. Testifying before the Iraq Inquiry on 29 January 2010, Blair said Saddam was a "monster and I believe he threatened not just the region but the world." Blair said that British and American attitude towards Saddam Hussein had "changed dramatically" after the
11 September attacks The September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11, were four coordinated Suicide attack, suicide List of terrorist incidents, terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. That morning, ...
. Blair denied that he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he had thought Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. He said he believed the world was safer as a result of the invasion. He said there was "no real difference between wanting regime change and wanting Iraq to disarm: regime change was US policy because Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations." In an October 2015
CNN CNN (Cable News Network) is a multinational cable news channel headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. Founded in 1980 by American media proprietor Ted Turner and Reese Schonfeld as a 24-hour cable news channel, and presently owned by ...
interview with Fareed Zakaria, Blair apologised for his "mistakes" over Iraq War and admitted there were "elements of truth" to the view that the invasion helped promote the rise of
ISIS Isis (; ''Ēse''; ; Meroitic language, Meroitic: ''Wos'' 'a''or ''Wusa''; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤀𐤎, romanized: ʾs) was a major ancient Egyptian deities, goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughou ...
. The Chilcot Inquiry report of 2016 gave a damning assessment of Blair's role in the Iraq War, though the former prime minister again refused to apologise for his decision to back the US-led invasion.


Relationship with Parliament

One of Blair's first acts as prime minister was to replace the then twice-weekly 15-minute sessions of
Prime Minister's Questions Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs, officially known as Questions to the Prime Minister, while colloquially known as Prime Minister's Question Time) is a constitutional convention (political custom), constitutional convention in the United Kingdo ...
held on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a single 30-minute session on Wednesdays. In addition to PMQs, Blair held monthly press conferences at which he fielded questions from journalists and – from 2002 – broke precedent by agreeing to give evidence twice yearly before the most senior Commons select committee, the Liaison Committee. Blair was sometimes perceived as paying insufficient attention both to the views of his own Cabinet colleagues and to those of the House of Commons. His style was sometimes criticised as not that of a prime minister and
head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presid ...
, which he was, but of a president and head of state – which he was not. Blair was accused of excessive reliance on spin. He was the first UK prime minister to have been formally questioned by police, though not under caution, while still in office.


Events before resignation

As the casualties of the Iraq War mounted, Blair was accused of misleading Parliament, and his popularity dropped dramatically. Labour's overall majority at the 2005 general election was reduced from 167 to 66 seats. As a combined result of the Blair–Brown pact, Iraq war and low approval ratings, pressure built up within the Labour Party for Blair to resign. Over the summer of 2006 many MPs, including usually supportive MPs, criticised Blair for not calling for a ceasefire in the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict. On 7 September 2006, Blair publicly stated he would step down as party leader by the time of the
Trades Union Congress The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is a national trade union center, national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in England and Wales, representing the majority of trade unions. There are 48 affiliated unions, with a total of about 5. ...
(TUC) conference held 10–13 September 2007, having promised to serve a full term during the previous general election campaign. On 10 May 2007, during a speech at the Trimdon Labour Club, Blair announced his intention to resign as both Labour Party leader and prime minister. This triggered the 2007 Labour Party leadership election, in which Brown was the only candidate for leader. At a special party conference in
Manchester Manchester () is a city in Greater Manchester, England. It had a population of 552,000 in 2021. It is bordered by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and the neighbouring city of City of Salford, Salford to ...
on 24 June 2007, Blair formally handed over the leadership of the Labour Party to Gordon Brown, who had been
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of HM Treasury, His Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Great Offices of State, the Ch ...
in Blair's three ministries. Blair tendered his resignation on 27 June 2007 and Brown assumed office during the same afternoon. Blair resigned from his Sedgefield seat in the House of Commons in the traditional form of accepting the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, to which he was appointed by Gordon Brown in one of the latter's last acts as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The resulting Sedgefield by-election was won by Labour's candidate, Phil Wilson. Blair decided not to issue a list of Resignation Honours, making him the first prime minister of the modern era not to do so.


Policies


Social reforms

In 2001, Blair said, "We are a left of centre party, pursuing economic prosperity and social justice as partners and not as opposites". Blair rarely applies such labels to himself, but he promised before the 1997 election that New Labour would govern "from the radical centre", and according to one lifelong Labour Party member, has always described himself as a
social democrat Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within socialism that supports Democracy, political and economic democracy. As a policy regime, it is described by academics as advocati ...
. However, in a 2007 opinion piece in ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'', left-wing commentator Neil Lawson described Blair as to the right of centre. A
YouGov YouGov is a British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, headquartered in the UK, with operations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. In 2007, it acquired US company Polimetrix, and since ...
opinion poll in 2005 found that a small majority of British voters, including many New Labour supporters, placed Blair on the right of the political spectrum. The ''
Financial Times The ''Financial Times'' (''FT'') is a British daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray ba ...
'' on the other hand has argued that Blair is not conservative, but instead a
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often Juxtaposition, juxtapose this group against "elite, the elite". It is frequently associated with anti-establishment and anti-political sentimen ...
. Critics and admirers tend to agree that Blair's electoral success was based on his ability to occupy the centre ground and appeal to voters across the political spectrum, to the extent that he has been fundamentally at odds with traditional Labour Party values. Some left-wing critics, such as
Mike Marqusee __NOTOC__ Mike Marqusee (; 27 January 1953 – 13 January 2015) was an American writer, journalist and political activist in London. Marqusee's first published work was the essay "Turn Left at Scarsdale", written when he was a sixteen-year-old high ...
in 2001, argued that Blair oversaw the final stage of a long term shift of the Labour Party to the right. There is some evidence that Blair's long term dominance of the centre forced his Conservative opponents to shift a long distance to the left to challenge his
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state over other states. In Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing ...
there. Leading Conservatives of the post-New Labour era hold Blair in high regard:
George Osborne George Gideon Oliver Osborne (born Gideon Oliver Osborne; 23 May 1971) is a former British politician and newspaper editor who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2010 to 2016 and as First Secretary of State from 2015 to 2016 in the P ...
describes him as "the master",
Michael Gove Michael Andrew Gove (; born Graeme Andrew Logan, 26 August 1967) is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations since 2021. He has been Member of Parli ...
thought he had an "entitlement to conservative respect" in February 2003, while
David Cameron David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2016 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to ...
reportedly maintained Blair as an informal adviser. Blair increased police powers by adding to the number of arrestable offences, compulsory DNA recording and the use of dispersal orders. Under Blair's government the amount of new legislation increased which attracted criticism. He also introduced tough anti-terrorism and identity card legislation.


Economic policies

During his time as prime minister, Blair raised taxes; introduced a National Minimum Wage and some new employment rights (while keeping
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. S ...
's trade union reforms); introduced significant constitutional reforms; promoted new rights for gay people in the Civil Partnership Act 2004; and signed treaties integrating Britain more closely with the EU. He introduced substantial market-based reforms in the education and health sectors; introduced student tuition fees and sought to reduce certain categories of welfare payments. He did not reverse the privatisation of the railways enacted by his predecessor John Major and instead strengthened regulation (by creating the
Office of Rail Regulation The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the economic and safety regulation of Britain's railways, and the economic monitoring of National Highways. ORR regulates Network Rail by setting its ...
) and limited fare rises to
inflation In economics, inflation is an increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a reductio ...
+1%. Blair and Brown raised spending on the NHS and other public services, increasing spending from 39.9% of GDP to 48.1% in 2010–11. They pledged in 2001 to bring NHS spending to the levels of other European countries, and doubled spending in real terms to over £100 billion in England alone.


Immigration

Non-European immigration rose significantly during the period from 1997, not least because of the
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government ...
's abolition of the primary purpose rule in June 1997. This change made it easier for UK residents to bring foreign spouses into the country. The former government advisor Andrew Neather in the ''
Evening Standard The ''Evening Standard'', formerly ''The Standard'' (1827–1904), also known as the ''London Evening Standard'', is a local free daily newspaper in London, England, published Monday to Friday in Tabloid (newspaper format), tabloid format. ...
'' stated that the deliberate policy of ministers from late 2000 until early 2008 was to open up the UK to mass migration. Neather later stated that his words had been twisted, saying: "The main goal was to allow in more migrant workers at a point when – hard as it is to imagine now – the booming economy was running up against skills shortages.... Somehow this has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a "plot" to make Britain multicultural. There was no plot."


Environmental record

Blair criticised other governments for not doing enough to solve
global climate change In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate variability and change, Climate change in a broader sense also includes ...
. In a 1997 visit to the United States, he made a comment on "great industrialised nations" that fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Again in 2003, Blair went before the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
and said that climate change "cannot be ignored", insisting "we need to go beyond even
Kyoto Kyoto (; Japanese language, Japanese: , ''Kyōto'' ), officially , is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Located in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu, Kyoto forms a part of the Keihanshin, Keihanshin metropolitan area along wi ...
." Blair and his party promised a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide. The Labour Party also claimed that by 2010 10% of the energy would come from renewable resources; however, it only reached 7% by that point. In 2000, Blair "flagged up" 100 million euros for green policies and urged environmentalists and businesses to work together.


Foreign policy

Blair built his foreign policy on basic principles (close ties with U.S. and E.U.) and added a new activist philosophy of "interventionism". In 2001 Britain joined the U.S. in the global war on terror. Blair forged friendships with several European leaders, including
Silvio Berlusconi Silvio Berlusconi ( ; ; born 29 September 1936) is an Italian media tycoon and politician who served as Prime Minister of Italy in four governments from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. He was a member of the Chamber of Deputies (I ...
of Italy,
Angela Merkel Angela Dorothea Merkel (; ; born 17 July 1954) is a German former politician and scientist who served as Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. A member of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, Christian Democratic Union (CDU), she pr ...
of Germany and later
Nicolas Sarkozy Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa (; ; born 28 January 1955) is a French politician who served as President of France from 2007 to 2012. Born in Paris, he is of Hungarian, Greek Jewish, and French origin. Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Sei ...
of France. Along with enjoying a close relationship with Bill Clinton, Blair formed a strong political alliance with George W. Bush, particularly in the area of foreign policy. For his part, Bush lauded Blair and the UK. In his post-9/11 speech, for example, he stated that "America has no truer friend than Great Britain". The alliance between Bush and Blair seriously damaged Blair's standing in the eyes of Britons angry at American influence; a 2002 poll revealed that a large amount of Britons viewed Blair as a " lapdog" of Bush. Blair argued it was in Britain's interest to "protect and strengthen the bond" with the United States regardless of who is in the White House. However, a perception of one-sided compromising personal and political closeness led to discussion of the term "Poodle-ism" in the UK media, to describe the "
Special Relationship The Special Relationship is a term that is often used to describe the politics, political, social, diplomacy, diplomatic, culture, cultural, economics, economic, law, legal, Biophysical environment, environmental, religion, religious, military ...
" of the UK government and prime minister with the US White House and President. A revealing conversation between Bush and Blair, with the former addressing the latter as " Yo r Yeah Blair" was recorded when they did not know a microphone was live at the G8 summit in
Saint Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), i ...
in 2006.


Middle East policy

On 30 January 2003, Blair signed '' The letter of the eight'' supporting U.S. policy on Iraq. Blair showed a deep feeling for Israel, born in part from his faith. Blair has been a longtime member of the pro-Israel lobby group
Labour Friends of Israel Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is a group in the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, th ...
.Assaf Uni
"Finance scandal has local community worried"
, ''
Haaretz ''Haaretz'' ( , originally ''Ḥadshot Haaretz'' – , ) is an List of newspapers in Israel, Israeli newspaper. It was founded in 1918, making it the longest running newspaper currently in print in Israel, and is now published in both Hebrew ...
'', 10 December 2007.
In 1994, Blair forged close ties with Michael Levy, a leader of the Jewish Leadership Council. Levy ran the Labour Leader's Office Fund to finance Blair's campaign before the 1997 election and raised £12 million towards Labour's landslide victory, Levy was rewarded with a
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted Imperial, royal and noble ranks, noble ranks. Peerages include: Aus ...
, and in 2002, Blair appointed Lord Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East. Levy praised Blair for his "solid and committed support of the State of Israel".
Tam Dalyell Sir Thomas Dalyell, 11th Baronet, , ( ; 9 August 1932 – 26 January 2017), known as Tam Dalyell, was a Scottish Labour Party (UK), Labour Party politician who was a member of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons from 19 ...
, while
Father of the House Father of the House is a title that has been traditionally bestowed, unofficially, on certain members of some legislatures, most notably the United Kingdom House of Commons, House of Commons in the United Kingdom. In some legislatures the title re ...
of Commons, suggested in 2003 that Blair's foreign policy decisions were unduly influenced by a "cabal" of Jewish advisers, including Levy,
Peter Mandelson Peter Benjamin Mandelson, Baron Mandelson (born 21 October 1953) is a British Labour Party politician who served as First Secretary of State The First Secretary of State is an office that is sometimes held by a minister of the Crown in th ...
and
Jack Straw John Whitaker Straw (born 3 August 1946) is a British politician who served in the Cabinet from 1997 to 2010 under the Labour governments of Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician ...
(the last two are not Jewish but have some Jewish ancestry). Blair, on coming to office, had been "cool towards the right-wing Netanyahu government".Seldon, ''Blair'', p. 506. During his first visit to Israel, Blair thought the Israelis bugged him in his car. After the election in 1999 of
Ehud Barak Ehud Barak ( he-a, אֵהוּד בָּרָק, Ehud_barak.ogg, link=yes, born Ehud Brog; 12 February 1942) is an Israeli general and politician who served as the tenth Prime Minister of Israel, prime minister from 1999 to 2001. He was leader of ...
, with whom Blair forged a close relationship, he became much more sympathetic to Israel. From 2001, Blair built up a relationship with Barak's successor,
Ariel Sharon Ariel Sharon (; ; ; also known by his diminutive Arik, , born Ariel Scheinermann, ; 26 February 1928 – 11 January 2014) was an Israeli general and politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006. S ...
, and responded positively to Arafat, whom he had met thirteen times since becoming prime minister and regarded as essential to future negotiations. In 2004, 50 former diplomats, including ambassadors to
Baghdad Baghdad (; ar, بَغْدَاد , ) is the capital of Iraq and the list of largest cities in the Arab world, second-largest city in the Arab world after Cairo. It is located on the Tigris near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon and the ...
and
Tel Aviv Tel Aviv-Yafo ( he, תֵּל־אָבִיב-יָפוֹ, translit=Tēl-ʾĀvīv-Yāfō ; ar, تَلّ أَبِيب – يَافَا, translit=Tall ʾAbīb-Yāfā, links=no), often referred to as just Tel Aviv, is the most populous city in the G ...
, stated they had "watched with deepening concern" at Britain following the US into war in Iraq in 2003. They criticised Blair's support for the
road map for peace The Roadmap for peace or road map for peace ( he, מפת הדרכים ''Mapa had'rakhim'', ''Khāriṭa ṭarīq as-salāmu'') was a plan to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict proposed by the Quartet on the Middle East: the United State ...
which included the retaining of
Israeli settlement Israeli settlements, or Israeli colonies, are civilian communities inhabited by Israeli citizens, overwhelmingly of Jewish ethnicity, built on lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War The Six-Day War (, ; ar, النكسة, , ...
s on the
West Bank The West Bank ( ar, الضفة الغربية, translit=aḍ-Ḍiffah al-Ġarbiyyah; he, הגדה המערבית, translit=HaGadah HaMaʽaravit, also referred to by some Israelis as ) is a landlocked territory near the coast of the Mediter ...
. In 2006 Blair was criticised for his failure to immediately call for a ceasefire in the
2006 Lebanon War The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western As ...
. ''
The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper Sunday editions, published on Sundays. It is a sister paper to ''The Guardian'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', whose parent company Guardian Media Group, Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993. ...
'' newspaper claimed that at a cabinet meeting before Blair left for a summit with Bush on 28 July 2006, a significant number of ministers pressured Blair to publicly criticise Israel over the scale of deaths and destruction in Lebanon. Blair was criticised for his solid stance alongside US President George W. Bush on Middle East policy.


Syria and Libya

A Freedom of Information request by ''The Sunday Times'' in 2012 revealed that Blair's government considered knighting Syria's President
Bashar al-Assad Bashar Hafez al-Assad, ', Levantine Arabic, Levantine pronunciation: ; (, born 11 September 1965) is a Syrian politician who is the 19th president of Syria, since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed ...
. The documents showed Blair was willing to appear alongside Assad at a joint press conference even though the Syrians would probably have settled for a farewell handshake for the cameras; British officials sought to manipulate the media to portray Assad in a favourable light; and Blair's aides tried to help Assad's "photogenic" wife
Asma al-Assad Asma Fawaz al-Assad (born 11 August 1975) is the First Lady First lady is an unofficial title usually used for the wife, and occasionally used for the daughter or other female relative, of a non- monarchical head of state or chief exec ...
boost her profile. The newspaper noted: Blair had been on friendly terms with Colonel Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, when sanctions imposed on the country were lifted by the US and the UK. Even after the
Libyan Civil War Demographics of Libya is the demography of Libya, specifically covering population density, Ethnic group, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, and Religion in Libya, religious affiliations, as well as other aspec ...
in 2011, he said he had no regrets about his close relationship with the late Libyan leader. During Blair's premiership,
MI6 The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6 ( Military Intelligence, Section 6), is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as ...
rendered Abdelhakim Belhaj to the Gaddafi regime in 2004, though Blair later claimed he had "no recollection" of the incident.


Zimbabwe

Blair had an antagonistic relationship with Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe Robert Gabriel Mugabe (; ; 21 February 1924 – 6 September 2019) was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President of Zimbabwe, President from 1987 to 2017. He se ...
and allegedly planned
regime change Regime change is the partly forcible or coercive replacement of one government regime with another. Regime change may replace all or part of the State (polity), state's most critical leadership system, administrative apparatus, or bureaucracy. Reg ...
against Mugabe in the early 2000s. Zimbabwe had embarked on a program of uncompensated land redistribution from the country's white commercial farmers to the black population, a policy that disrupted agricultural production and threw Zimbabwe's economy into chaos. General Charles Guthrie, the Chief of the Defence Staff, revealed in 2007 that he and Blair had discussed the invasion of Zimbabwe. Guthrie advised against military action: "Hold hard, you'll make it worse." In 2013, South African President
Thabo Mbeki Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki KStJ (; born 18 June 1942) is a South African politician who was the second president of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008, when he resigned at the request of his party, the African National Congress (ANC) ...
said that Blair had pressured South Africa to join in a "regime change scheme, even to the point of using military force" in Zimbabwe. Mbeki refused because he felt that "Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem." However, a spokesman for Blair said that "he never asked anyone to plan or take part in any such military intervention."


Russia

Blair went on a trip to Moscow to watch a performance of the ''War and Peace'' opera with
Vladimir Putin Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin; (born 7 October 1952) is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer who holds the office of president of Russia. Putin has Russia under Vladimir Putin, served continuously as president or Prime Minis ...
, while he was the acting president of Russia. This meeting was criticised by groups such as
Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human ri ...
and
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
. In 2018, Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, said there was "significant regret" over this trip, which helped Putin rise to power. Dearlove also alleged that in 2000, a
KGB The KGB (russian: links=no, lit=Committee for State Security, Комитет государственной безопасности (КГБ), a=ru-KGB.ogg, p=kəmʲɪˈtʲet ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪn(ː)əj bʲɪzɐˈpasnəsʲtʲɪ, Komitet gosud ...
officer approached him, seeking Britain's help in boosting Putin's political profile, and this was why Blair met Putin in Russia. Blair also hosted Putin in London in April 2000, despite hesitation towards Putin from other world leaders, and opposition from
human rights group A human rights group, or human rights organization, is a non-governmental organization which advocates for human rights through identification of their violation, collecting incident data, its analysis and publication, promotion of public awareness ...
s over atrocities committed in Chechnya. Blair told Jim Hoagland of ''
The Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C. It is the most widely circulated newspaper within the Washington metropolitan area and has a large nati ...
'' that " utin'svision of the future is one that we would feel comfortable with. Putin has a very clear agenda of modernizing Russia. When he talks of a strong Russia, he means strength not in a threatening way but in a way that means the country economically and politically is capable of standing up for itself, which is a perfectly good aim to have". During the meeting, Blair acknowledged and discussed "concerns about Chechnya", but described Putin as a political reformer "who is ready to embrace a new relationship with the European Union and the United States, who wants a strong and modern Russia and a strong relationship with the West".


Relationship with media


Rupert Murdoch

Blair was reported by ''The Guardian'' in 2006 to have been supported politically by
Rupert Murdoch Keith Rupert Murdoch ( ; born 11 March 1931) is an Australian Americans, Australian-born American business magnate. Through his company News Corp, he is the owner of hundreds of List of assets owned by News Corp, local, national, and intern ...
, the founder of the
News Corporation News Corporation (abbreviated News Corp.), also variously known as News Corporation Limited, was an American multinational mass media corporation controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in ...
organisation. In 2011, Blair became godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch's children with Wendi Deng, but he and Murdoch later ended their friendship, in 2014, after Murdoch suspected him of having an affair with Deng while they were still married, according to ''
The Economist ''The Economist'' is a British weekly newspaper printed in Paper size#Demitab, demitab format and Electronic publishing, published digitally. It focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, technology, and culture. Based in Lo ...
'' magazine.


Contacts with UK media proprietors

A
Cabinet Office The Cabinet Office is a Departments of the Government of the United Kingdom, department of Government of the United Kingdom, His Majesty's Government responsible for supporting the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, prime minister and Cabine ...
freedom of information Freedom of information is freedom of a person or people to publish and consume information. Access to information is the ability for an individual to seek, receive and impart information effectively. This sometimes includes "scientific, Indigeno ...
response, released the day after Blair handed over power to Gordon Brown, documents Blair having various official phone calls and meetings with Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation and
Richard Desmond Richard Clive Desmond (born 8 December 1951) is a British publisher, businessman and former Pornography, pornographer. According to the 2021 ''Sunday Times Rich List'', Desmond was the 107th richest person in the United Kingdom. He is the foun ...
of ''Northern and Shell Media''. The response includes contacts "clearly of an official nature" in the specified period, but excludes contacts "not clearly of an official nature." No details were given of the subjects discussed. In the period between September 2002 and April 2005, Blair and Murdoch are documented speaking 6 times; three times in the 9 days before the Iraq War, including the eve of 20 March US and UK invasion, and on 29 January 25 April and 3 October 2004. Between January 2003 and February 2004, Blair had three meetings with Richard Desmond; on 29 January and 3 September 2003 and 23 February 2004. The information was disclosed after a -year battle by the Liberal Democrats' Lord Avebury. Lord Avebury's initial October 2003 information request was dismissed by then leader of the Lords, Baroness Amos. A following complaint was rejected, with
Downing Street Downing Street is a street in City of Westminster, Westminster in London that houses the official residences and offices of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Situated off Whitehall, it is long, and ...
claiming the information compromised free and frank discussions, while Cabinet Office claimed releasing the timing of the PM's contacts with individuals is undesirable, as it might lead to the content of the discussions being disclosed. While awaiting a following appeal from Lord Avebury, the cabinet office announced that it would release the information. Lord Avebury said: "The public can now scrutinise the timing of his (Murdoch's) contacts with the former prime minister, to see whether they can be linked to events in the outside world." Blair appeared before the
Leveson Inquiry The Leveson Inquiry was a judicial public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British newspapers, press following the News International phone hacking scandal, chaired by Brian Leveson, Lord Justice Leveson, who was appointed ...
on Monday 28 May 2012. During his appearance, a protester, later named as David Lawley-Wakelin, got into the court-room and claimed he was guilty of war crimes before being dragged out.


Media portrayal

Blair has been noted as a
charisma Charisma () is a personal quality of presence or charm that compels its subjects. Scholars in sociology, political science, psychology, and management reserve the term for a type of leadership seen as extraordinary; in these fields, the term "ch ...
tic, articulate speaker with an informal style. Film and theatre director
Richard Eyre Sir Richard Charles Hastings Eyre (born 28 March 1943) is an English film, theatre, television and opera director. Biography Eyre was born in Barnstaple Barnstaple ( or ) is a river-port town in North Devon, England, at the River Taw's l ...
opined that "Blair had a very considerable skill as a performer". A few months after becoming prime minister Blair gave a tribute to
Diana, Princess of Wales Diana, Princess of Wales (born Diana Frances Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997) was a member of the British royal family. She was the first wife of King Charles III (then Prince of Wales) and mother of Princes William, Prince of Wales, ...
, on the morning of her death in August 1997, in which he famously described her as "the People's Princess". After taking office in 1997, Blair gave particular prominence to his press secretary, who became known as the prime minister's official spokesman (the two roles have since been separated). Blair's first PMOS was Alastair Campbell, who served in that role from May 1997 to 8 June 2001, after which he served as the prime minister's director of communications and strategy until his resignation on 29 August 2003 in the aftermath of the
Hutton Inquiry The Hutton Inquiry was a 2003 judicial inquiry in the UK chaired by Brian Hutton, Baron Hutton, Lord Hutton, who was appointed by the Labour Party (UK), Labour government to investigate the controversial circumstances surrounding the death of Dav ...
. Blair had close relationships with the Clinton family. The strong partnership with Bill Clinton was made into the film '' The Special Relationship'' in 2010.


Relationship with Labour Party

Blair's apparent refusal to set a date for his departure was criticised by the British press and Members of Parliament. It has been reported that a number of cabinet ministers believed that Blair's timely departure from office would be required to be able to win a fourth election. Some ministers viewed Blair's announcement of policy initiatives in September 2006 as an attempt to draw attention away from these issues.


Gordon Brown

After the death of John Smith in 1994, Blair and his close colleague Gordon Brown (they shared an office at the House of Commons) were both seen as possible candidates for the party leadership. They agreed not to stand against each other, it is said, as part of a supposed Blair–Brown pact. Brown, who considered himself the senior of the two, understood that Blair would give way to him: opinion polls soon indicated, however, that Blair appeared to enjoy greater support among voters. Their relationship in power became so turbulent that (it was reported) the
deputy prime minister A deputy prime minister or vice prime minister is, in some countries, a Minister (government), government minister who can take the position of acting prime minister when the prime minister is temporarily absent. The position is often likened to th ...
, John Prescott, often had to act as "marriage guidance counsellor". During the 2010 election campaign Blair publicly endorsed Gordon Brown's leadership, praising the way he had handled the financial crisis.


Post-premiership (since 2007)


Diplomacy

On 27 June 2007, Blair officially resigned as prime minister after ten years in office, and he was officially confirmed as Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia. Blair originally indicated that he would retain his parliamentary seat after his resignation as prime minister came into effect; however, on being confirmed for the Middle East role he resigned from the Commons by taking up an office of profit. President George W. Bush had preliminary talks with Blair to ask him to take up the envoy role. White House sources stated that "both Israel and the Palestinians had signed up to the proposal". In May 2008 Blair announced a new plan for peace and for Palestinian rights, based heavily on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan. Blair resigned as envoy in May 2015.


Private sector

In January 2008, it was confirmed that Blair would be joining investment bank
JPMorgan Chase JPMorgan Chase & Co. is an American Multinational corporation, multinational Investment banking, investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered in City of New York, New York City and Delaware General Corporation Law, inco ...
in a "senior advisory capacity" and that he would advise
Zurich Financial Services Zurich Insurance Group Ltd is a Swiss insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss in which, in exchange for a fee, a party agrees to compensate another party in the event of a certain loss, damage, or injury. It is ...
on
climate change In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate variability and change, Climate change in a broader sense also includes ...
. His salary for this work is unknown, although it has been claimed it may be in excess of £500,000 per year. Blair also gives lectures, earning up to US$250,000 for a 90-minute speech, and in 2008 he was said to be the highest paid speaker in the world. Blair taught a course on issues of faith and globalisation at the
Yale University Yale University is a Private university, private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the List of Colonial Colleges, third-oldest institution of higher education in the United Sta ...
Schools of
Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a nonprofit organization, or a government body. It is the art and science of managing resources of the business. Management includes the activities ...
and
Divinity Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god ...
as a Howland distinguished fellow during the 2008–09 academic year. In July 2009, this accomplishment was followed by the launching of the Faith and Globalisation Initiative with Yale University in the US, Durham University in the UK, and the
National University of Singapore The National University of Singapore (NUS) is a national university, national Public university, public research university in Singapore. Founded in 1905 as the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Gov ...
in Asia, to deliver a postgraduate programme in partnership with the Foundation. Blair's links with, and receipt of an undisclosed sum from, UI Energy Corporation, have also been subject to media comment in the UK. In July 2010 it was reported that his personal security guards claimed £250,000 a year in expenses from the tax payer, Foreign Secretary
William Hague William is a male Male (Mars symbol, symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexu ...
said; "we have to make sure that lair's securityis as cost-effective as possible, that it doesn't cost any more to the taxpayer than is absolutely necessary".


Tony Blair Associates

Blair established Tony Blair Associates to "allow him to provide, in partnership with others, strategic advice on a commercial and ''pro bono'' basis, on political and economic trends and governmental reform". The profits from the firm go towards supporting Blair's "work on faith, Africa and climate change". Blair has been subject to criticism for potential conflicts of interest between his diplomatic role as a Middle East envoy, and his work with Tony Blair Associates, and a number of prominent critics have even called for him to be sacked. Blair has used his
Quartet In music, a quartet or quartette (, , , , ) is an ensemble of four singers or instrumental performers; or a musical composition for four voices and instruments. Classical String quartet In classical music, one of the most common combinations o ...
Tony Blair Associates works with the Kazakhstan government, advising the regime on judicial, economic and political reforms, but has been subject to criticism after accusations of "whitewashing" the image and human rights record of the regime. Blair responded to such criticism by saying his choice to advise the country is an example of how he can "nudge controversial figures on a progressive path of reform", and has stated that he receives no personal profit from this advisory role. The Kazakhstan foreign minister said that the country was "honoured and privileged" to be receiving advice from Blair. A letter obtained by ''
The Daily Telegraph ''The Daily Telegraph'', known online and elsewhere as ''The Telegraph'', is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was fou ...
'' in August 2014 revealed Blair had given damage-limitation advice to
Nursultan Nazarbayev Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev ( kk, Нұрсұлтан Әбішұлы Назарбаев, Nūrsūltan Äbişūlı Nazarbaev, ; born 6 July 1940) is a Kazakhs, Kazakh politician and military officer who served as the first President of Kazakhstan ...
after the December 2011 Zhanaozen massacre. Blair was reported to have accepted a business advisory role with President
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi; (born 19 November 1954) is an Egyptian politician and retired military officer who has served as the List of presidents of Egypt, sixth and current president of Egypt since 2014. Before retiring as a ...
of Egypt, a situation deemed incompatible with his role as Middle East envoy. Blair described the report as "nonsense".


Charity and non-profits

In November 2007 Blair launched the Tony Blair Sports Foundation, which aims to "increase childhood participation in sports activities, especially in the North East of England, where a larger proportion of children are socially excluded, and to promote overall health and prevent childhood obesity." On 30 May 2008, Blair launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as a vehicle for encouraging different faiths to join in promoting respect and understanding, as well as working to tackle poverty. Reflecting Blair's own faith but not dedicated to any particular religion, the Foundation aims to "show how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world". "The Foundation will use its profile and resources to encourage people of faith to work together more closely to tackle global poverty and conflict," says its mission statement. In February 2009 he applied to set up a charity called the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative: the application was approved in November 2009. In October 2012 Blair's foundation hit controversy when it emerged they were taking on unpaid interns. In December 2016, Blair created the Tony Blair Institute to promote global outlooks by governments and organisations.


Memoirs

In March 2010, it was reported that Blair's memoirs, titled ''The Journey'', would be published in September 2010. In July 2010 it was announced the memoirs would be retitled ''A Journey''. The memoirs were seen by many as controversial and a further attempt to profit from his office and from acts related to overseas wars that were widely seen as wrong, leading to anger and suspicion prior to launch. On 16 August 2010 it was announced that Blair would give the £4.6 million advance and all royalties from his memoirs to the
Royal British Legion The Royal British Legion (RBL), formerly the British Legion, is a British Charitable organization, charity providing financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants, as ...
– the charity's largest ever single donation. Media analysis of the sudden announcement was wide-ranging, describing it as an act of "desperation" to obtain a better launch reception of a humiliating "publishing flop" that had languished in the ratings, " blood money" for the lives lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, an act with a "hidden motive" or an expression of "guilt", a "genius move" to address the problem that "Tony Blair ha one of the most toxic brands around" from a PR perspective, and a "cynical stunt to wipe the slate", but also as an attempt to make amends. Friends had said that the act was partly motivated by the wish to "repair his reputation". The book was published on 1 September and within hours of its launch had become the fastest-selling autobiography of all time. On 3 September Blair gave his first live interview since publication on '' The Late Late Show'' in Ireland, with protesters lying in wait there for him. On 4 September Blair was confronted by 200 anti-war and hardline Irish nationalist demonstrators before the first book signing of his memoirs at Eason's bookstore on
O'Connell Street O'Connell Street () is a street in the centre of Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, running north from the River Liffey. It connects the O'Connell Bridge to the south with Parnell Street to the north and is roughly split into two sections ...
in Dublin, with angry activists chanting "war criminal" and that he had "blood on his hands", and clashing with Irish Police (
Garda Síochána (; meaning "the Guardian(s) of the Peace"), more commonly referred to as the Gardaí (; "Guardians") or "the Guards", is the national police service of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. The service is headed by the Garda Commissioner who is appoint ...
) as they tried to break through a security cordon outside the Eason's store. Blair was pelted with eggs and shoes, and encountered an attempted
citizen's arrest A citizen's arrest is an arrest made by a private citizen – that is, a person who is not acting as a sworn law-enforcement official. In common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the bo ...
for war crimes.


Accusations of war crimes

Since the Iraq War, Blair has been the subject of war crimes accusations. Critics of his actions, including Bishop
Desmond Tutu Desmond Mpilo Tutu (7 October 193126 December 2021) was a South African Anglican bishop and Christian theology, theologian, known for his work as an Internal resistance to apartheid, anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was Anglican ...
,
Harold Pinter Harold Pinter (; 10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008) was a British people, British playwright, screenwriter, theatre director, director and actor. A List of Nobel laureates in Literature, Nobel Prize winner, Pinter was one of the mos ...
and
Arundhati Roy Suzanna Arundhati Roy (born 24 November 1961) is an Indian author best known for her novel ''The God of Small Things'' (1997), which won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997 and became the best-selling book by a non-expatriate Indian author. S ...
have called for his trial at the
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization and International court, international tribunal seated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to pro ...
. In November 2011, a war crimes tribunal of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, established by Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, reached a unanimous conclusion that Blair and George W. Bush are guilty of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and genocide as a result of their roles in the 2003–2011 Iraq War. The proceedings lasted for four days, and consisted of five judges of judicial and academic backgrounds, a tribunal-appointed defence team in lieu of the defendants or representatives, and a prosecution team including international law professor Francis Boyle. In September 2012, Desmond Tutu suggested that Blair should follow the path of former African leaders who had been brought before the International Criminal Court in
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a list of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of the Netherlands, situated on the west coast facing the North Sea. The Hague is the country's ad ...
. The human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman concurred with Tutu's suggestion that there should be a war crimes trial. In a statement made in response to Tutu's comments, Blair defended his actions. He was supported by Lord Falconer, who stated that the war had been authorised by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. In July 2017, former Iraqi general Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat launched a private war crimes prosecution, in the High Court in London, asking for Tony Blair, former foreign secretary Jack Straw and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith to be prosecuted for "the crime of aggression" for their role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The High Court ruled that, although the crime of aggression was recognised in international law, it was not an offence under UK law, and, therefore, the prosecution could not proceed.


Political interventions and views


Response to the Iraq Inquiry

The Chilcot report after the conclusion of the Iraq Inquiry was issued on 6 July 2016 and it criticised Blair for joining the US in the war in Iraq in 2003. Afterwards, Blair issued a statement and held a two-hour press conference to apologise and to justify the decisions he had made in 2003 "in good faith" and denying allegations that the war had led to a significant increase in terrorism. He acknowledged that the report made "real and material criticisms of preparation, planning, process and of the relationship with the United States" but cited sections of the report that he said "should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit". He stated: "whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country. ... I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse. I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world".


Iran–West tensions

Blair wrote in an op-ed published by ''The Washington Post'' on 8 February 2019: "Where Iran is exercising military interference, it should be strongly pushed back. Where it is seeking influence, it should be countered. Where its proxies operate, it should be held responsible. Where its networks exist, they should be disrupted. Where its leaders are saying what is unacceptable, they should be exposed. Where the Iranian people — highly educated and connected, despite their government — are protesting for freedom, they should be supported." The
Tony Blair Institute for Global Change The Tony Blair Institute (TBI), commonly known by its trade name the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, is a non-profit organisation set up by former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to provide advice to gov ...
warned of growing Iranian threat. The Tony Blair Institute confirmed that it has received donations from the U.S. State Department and Saudi Arabia.


European Union

Blair did not want the UK to leave the EU and called for a referendum on the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Blair also maintained, that once the terms deciding how the UK leaves the EU were known the people should vote again on those terms. Blair stated, "We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can't then it should decide to go back to the people." However, after the 2019 general election when the pro-withdrawal Conservative party won a sizeable majority of seats, Blair argued that remain supporters should "face up to one simple point: we lost" and "pivot to a completely new position...We're going to have to be constructive about it and see how Britain develops a constructive relationship with Europe and finds its new niche in the world."


American power

Blair was interviewed in June 2020 for an article in the American magazine ''
The Atlantic ''The Atlantic'' is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher. It features articles in the fields of politics, foreign affairs, business and the economy, culture and the arts, technology, and science. It was founded in 1857 in Boston, ...
'' on European views of U.S. foreign policy following the
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and resulting
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, increased tensions in Sino-American relations, and the
George Floyd protests The George Floyd protests were a series of protests and civil unrest Civil disorder, also known as civil disturbance, civil unrest, or social unrest is a situation arising from a mass act of civil disobedience (such as a Political demons ...
. He affirmed his belief in the continued strength of American
soft power In politics (and particularly in international politics), soft power is the ability to co-option, co-opt rather than coerce (contrast hard power). In other words, soft Power (social and political), power involves shaping the preferences of others ...
and the need to address Iranian military aggression, European defence budgets, and Chinese trade. He said, however, "I think it's fair to say a lot of political leaders in Europe are dismayed by what they see as the isolationism growing in America and the seeming indifference to alliances. But I think there will come a time when America decides in its own interest to reengage, so I'm optimistic that America will in the end understand that this is not about relegating your self-interest behind the common interest; it's an understanding that by acting collectively in alliance with others you promote your own interests." Blair warned that structural issues plaguing American domestic policy needed to be addressed imminently. In August 2021, Blair criticised the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and of NATO troops saying that it was "in obedience to an imbecilic slogan about ending 'the forever wars. Blair admitted mistakes in the management of the war but warned that "the reaction to our mistakes has been, unfortunately, further mistakes".


Labour Party

Blair was a critic of
Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Bernard Corbyn (; born 26 May 1949) is a British politician who served as Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom), Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 2015 to 2020. On the pol ...
's leadership of the Labour Party, seeing it as too left-wing. He wrote in an opinion piece for ''The Guardian'' during the party's 2015 leadership election that if it elected Corbyn, it would face a "rout, possibly annihilation" at the next election. At the end of the period, he accused Corbyn of turning the party into a "glorified protest movement". In a May 2021 ''
New Statesman The ''New Statesman'' is a British Political magazine, political and cultural magazine published in London. Founded as a weekly review of politics and literature on 12 April 1913, it was at first connected with Sidney Webb, Sidney and Beatrice ...
'' article, Blair suggested that the party had a "total deconstruction and reconstruction", saying that Labour leader
Keir Starmer Sir Keir Rodney Starmer (; born 2 September 1962) is a British politician and barrister who has served as Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom), Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party sin ...
was being backed into "electorally off-putting positions" and lacked a compelling economic message. He also said the party needed to shift to the centre on social issues in order to survive. Blair touched on controversial topics such as
transgender rights A transgender person is someone whose gender identity is inconsistent or not culturally associated with the sex they were Sex assignment, assigned at birth and also with the gender role that is associated with that sex. They may have, or may in ...
, the
Black Lives Matter Black Lives Matter (abbreviated BLM) is a Decentralization, decentralized political and social movement that seeks to highlight racism, discrimination, and Racial inequality in the United States, racial inequality experienced by black pe ...
movement, climate change and Corbyn's leadership of the party.


Personal life


Family

Blair married Cherie Booth, a
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
, who would later become a
Queen's Counsel In the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries, a King's Counsel (Post-nominal letters, post-nominal initials KC) during the reign of a king, or Queen's Counsel (post-nominal initials QC) during the reign of ...
, on 29 March 1980. They have four children: Euan, Nicholas, Kathryn, and Leo. Leo was the first legitimate child born to a serving prime minister in over 150 years – since Francis Russell was born to
Lord John Russell John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, (18 August 1792 – 28 May 1878), known by his courtesy title A courtesy title is a title that does not have legal significance but rather is used through custom or courtesy, particularly, in the context of ...
on 11 July 1849. All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Blair's mother, Hazel Elizabeth Rosaleen Corscadden (12 June 192328 June 1975). The family's primary residence is in Connaught Square; the Blairs own eight residences in total. His first grandchild (a girl) was born in October 2016.


Wealth

Blair's financial assets are structured in an opaque manner, and as such estimates of their extent vary widely. These include figures of up to £100 million. Blair stated in 2014 that he was worth "less than £20 million". A 2015 assertion, by
Francis Beckett Francis Beckett (born 12 May 1945) is an English author, journalist, biographer, and contemporary historian. He has written biographies of Aneurin Bevan, Clement Attlee, Harold Macmillan, Gordon BrownMichael Whit"Gordon the saint – meet B ...
, David Hencke and Nick Kochan, concluded that Blair had acquired $90 million and a property portfolio worth $37.5 million in the eight years since he had left office. In October 2021, Blair was named in the Pandora Papers.


Religious faith

In 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, stating that he had prayed about the issue, and saying that God would judge him for his decision: "I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people ... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well." According to Press Secretary Alastair Campbell's diary, Blair often read the Bible before taking any important decisions. He states that Blair had a "wobble" and considered changing his mind on the eve of the bombing of Iraq in 1998. A longer exploration of his faith can be found in an interview with '' Third Way Magazine''. There he says that "I was brought up as Christian but I was not in any real sense a practising one until I went to Oxford. There was an Australian priest at the same college as me who got me interested again. In a sense, it was a rediscovery of religion as something living, that was about the world around me rather than some sort of special one-to-one relationship with a remote Being on high. Suddenly I began to see its social relevance. I began to make sense of the world". At one point Alastair Campbell intervened in an interview, preventing Blair from answering a question about his Christianity, explaining, "We don't do God." Campbell later said that he had intervened only to end the interview because the journalist had been taking an excessive time, and that the comment had just been a throwaway line. Cherie Blair's friend and "spiritual guru" Carole Caplin is credited with introducing her and her husband to various
New Age New Age is a range of Spirituality, spiritual or Religion, religious practices and beliefs which rapidly grew in Western world, Western society during the early 1970s. Its highly eclecticism, eclectic and unsystematic structure makes a precise d ...
symbols and beliefs, including "magic pendants" known as "BioElectric Shields". The most controversial of the Blairs' New Age practices occurred when on holiday in Mexico. The couple, wearing only bathing costumes, took part in a rebirthing procedure, which involved smearing mud and fruit over each other's bodies while sitting in a steam bath. Later on, Blair questioned the Pope's attitude towards homosexuality, arguing that religious leaders must start "rethinking" the issue. Blair was reprimanded by Cardinal
Basil Hume George Basil Hume Order of Saint Benedict, OSB Order of Merit, OM (2 March 1923 – 17 June 1999) was an English Catholic bishop. He was a monk and priest of the English English Benedictine Congregation, Benedictine monastery of Ampleforth Abb ...
in 1996 for receiving
Holy Communion The Eucharist (; from Greek , , ), also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, is a Christianity, Christian Rite (Christianity), rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an Ordinance (Christianity), ordinance in ot ...
at Mass, while still an Anglican, in contravention of
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
. On 22 December 2007, it was disclosed that Blair had joined the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
. The move was described as "a private matter". He had informed
Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict XVI ( la, Benedictus XVI; it, Benedetto XVI; german: link=no, Benedikt XVI.; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, , on 16 April 1927) is a retired prelate of the Catholic church who served as the head of the Church and the sovereign ...
on 23 June 2007 that he wanted to become a Catholic. The Pope and his advisors criticised some of Blair's political actions, but followed up with a reportedly unprecedented red-carpet welcome, which included the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who would be responsible for Blair's Catholic instruction. In 2010, ''
The Tablet ''The Tablet'' is a Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest internatio ...
'' named him as one of Britain's most influential Catholics.


Extramarital affair allegations

In 2014, ''Vanity Fair'' and ''The Economist'' published allegations that Blair had had an extramarital affair with Wendi Deng, who was then married to Rupert Murdoch. Blair denied the allegations.


Portrayals and cameo appearances


Appearances

Blair made an animated cameo appearance as himself in ''
The Simpsons ''The Simpsons'' is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of American life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer Simpson, Homer, Marge ...
'' episode, " The Regina Monologues" (2003). He has also appeared as himself at the end of the first episode of '' The Amazing Mrs Pritchard'', a British television series about an unknown housewife becoming prime minister. On 14 March 2007, Blair appeared as a celebrity judge on '' Masterchef Goes Large'' after contestants had to prepare a three-course meal in the Downing Street kitchens for Blair and
Bertie Ahern Bartholomew Patrick "Bertie" Ahern (born 12 September 1951) is an Irish former Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach from 1997 to 2008, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1994 to 2008, Leader of the Opposition (Ireland), Leader of the Opposit ...
. On 16 March 2007, Blair featured in a comedy sketch with
Catherine Tate Catherine Jane Ford (born 5 December 1969), known professionally as Catherine Tate, is an English actress, comedian and writer. She has won numerous awards for her work on the BBC #REDIRECT BBC Here i going to introduce about the best teacher ...
, who appeared in the guise of her character Lauren Cooper from '' The Catherine Tate Show''. The sketch was made for the BBC
Red Nose Day Comic relief is the inclusion of a humour, humorous character, scene, or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension. Definition Comic relief usually means a releasing of emotional or other tension resulting from a com ...
fundraising programme of 2007. During the sketch, Blair used Lauren's catchphrase "Am I bovvered?"


Portrayals

Michael Sheen has portrayed Blair three times, in the films '' The Deal'' (2003), '' The Queen'' (2006), and ''The Special Relationship'' (2009). Robert Lindsay portrayed Blair in the TV programme ''A Very Social Secretary'' (2005), and reprised the role in '' The Trial of Tony Blair'' (2007). He was also portrayed by
James Larkin James Larkin (28 January 1874 – 30 January 1947), sometimes known as Jim Larkin or Big Jim, was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican, socialist and trade union leader. He was one of the founders of the Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labou ...
in ''
The Government Inspector ''The Government Inspector'', also known as ''The Inspector General'' ( rus, links=no, Ревизор, Revizor, literally: "Inspector"), is a satirical play by Russian dramatist and novelist, Nikolai Gogol. Originally published in 1836, the pla ...
'' (2005), and by
Ioan Gruffudd Ioan Gruffudd (; (born 6 October 1973) is a Welsh actor. He first came to public attention as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in ''Titanic RMS ''Titanic'' was a British passenger Ocean liner, liner, operated by the White Star Line, which S ...
in '' W.'' (2008). In the 2006 Channel 4 comedy drama documentary, ''Tony Blair: Rock Star'', he was portrayed by Christian Brassington.


Blair in fiction and satire

When Blair resigned as prime minister, Robert Harris, a former
Fleet Street Fleet Street is a major street mostly in the City of London. It runs west to east from Temple Bar, London, Temple Bar at the boundary with the City of Westminster to Ludgate Circus at the site of the London Wall and the River Fleet from which ...
political editor, dropped his other work to write '' The Ghost''. The CIA-influenced British prime minister in the book is said to be a thinly disguised version of Blair. The novel was filmed as '' The Ghost Writer'' (2010) with
Pierce Brosnan Pierce Brendan Brosnan (; born 16 May 1953) is an Irish actor and film producer. He is best known as the fifth actor to play secret agent James Bond (literary character), James Bond in the List of James Bond films, Bond film series, starring i ...
portraying the Blair character, Adam Lang.
Stephen Mangan Stephen James Mangan (born 16 May 1968) is an English actor, comedian, presenter and writer. He has played Guy Secretan in ''Green Wing'', Dan Moody in ''I'm Alan Partridge'', Seán Lincoln in ''Episodes (TV series), Episodes'', Bigwig in ''Wat ...
portrays Blair in '' The Hunt for Tony Blair'' (2011), a one-off '' The Comic Strip Presents...'' satire presented in the style of a 1950s
film noir Film noir (; ) is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Cinema of the United States, Hollywood Crime film, crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and motivations. The 1940s and 1950s are generally regarde ...
. In the film, he is wrongly implicated in the deaths of Robin Cook and John Smith and on the run from Inspector Hutton. In 2007, the scenario of a possible war crimes trial for the former British prime minister was satirised by the British broadcaster
Channel 4 Channel 4 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television network operated by the state-owned Channel Four Television Corporation. It began its transmission on 2 November 1982 and was established to provide a fourth television servic ...
, in a "mockumentary", ''The Trial of Tony Blair'', which concluded with the fictional Blair being dispatched to the Hague.


Honours

*
Privy Councillor A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to ...
(1994) *
Congressional Gold Medal The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress. It is Congress's highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions. The congressional pract ...
(2003) * Honorary
Doctor of Law A Doctor of Law is a degree in law. The application of the term varies from country to country and includes degrees such as the Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D. or S.J.D), Juris Doctor (J.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), and Legum Doctor (LL. ...
(LLD) from
Queen's University Belfast Queen's University Belfast, officially The Queen's University of Belfast (commonly referred to as Queen's and QUB), is a Public university, public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The university received its charter ...
(2008) *
Presidential Medal of Freedom The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of the United States, along with the Congressional Gold Medal. It is an award bestowed by the president of the United States to recognize people who have made "an especially meri ...
(2009) *
Dan David Prize The Dan David Prize is a major international award that recognizes and supports outstanding contributions to the study of history and other disciplines that shed light on the human past. It awards nine prizes of $300,000 each year to outstanding ...
(2009) * Liberty Medal (2010) * Order of Freedom (2010) * Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter (2022) In May 2007, Blair was invested as a
paramount chief A paramount chief is the English-language designation for the highest-level political leader in a regional or local polity or country administered politically with a Chiefdom, chief-based system. This term is used occasionally in anthropology, a ...
by the chiefs and people of the village of Mahera in Sierra Leone. The honour was bestowed upon him in recognition of the role played by his government in the Sierra Leone Civil War. On 22 May 2008, Blair received an honorary law doctorate from
Queen's University Belfast Queen's University Belfast, officially The Queen's University of Belfast (commonly referred to as Queen's and QUB), is a Public university, public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The university received its charter ...
, alongside Bertie Ahern, for distinction in public service and roles in the Northern Ireland peace process. On 13 January 2009, Blair was awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of the United States, along with the Congressional Gold Medal. It is an award bestowed by the president of the United States to recognize people who have made "an especially meri ...
by President George W. Bush. Bush stated that Blair was given the award "in recognition of exemplary achievement and to convey the utmost esteem of the American people" and cited Blair's support for the War on Terror and his role in achieving peace in Northern Ireland as two reasons for justifying his being presented with the award. On 16 February 2009, Blair was awarded the
Dan David Prize The Dan David Prize is a major international award that recognizes and supports outstanding contributions to the study of history and other disciplines that shed light on the human past. It awards nine prizes of $300,000 each year to outstanding ...
by Tel Aviv University for "exceptional leadership and steadfast determination in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions to areas in conflict". He was awarded the prize in May 2009. On 8 July 2010, Blair was awarded the Order of Freedom by President
Fatmir Sejdiu Fatmir Sejdiu (; born 23 October 1951) is a Kosovar politician. He was the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo The Democratic League of Kosovo ( sq, Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës, LDK) is the oldest and one of the largest list of politic ...
of Kosovo. As Blair is considered to have been instrumental in ending the conflict in Kosovo, some boys born in the country following the war have been given the name Toni or Tonibler. On 13 September 2010, Blair was awarded the Liberty Medal at the
National Constitution Center The National Constitution Center is a non-profit institution devoted to the Constitution of the United States. On Independence Mall (Philadelphia), Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the center is an interactive museum and a national ...
in
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the List of United States cities by population, sixth-largest city i ...
, Pennsylvania. It was presented by former President Bill Clinton, and is awarded annually to "men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe". On 31 December 2021 it was announced that the Queen had appointed Blair a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter (KG). Blair had reportedly indicated when he left office that he did not want the traditional knighthood or peerage bestowed on former prime ministers. A petition cited his role in the Iraq War as a reason to remove the knighthood and garnered more than one million signatures. He received his Garter insignia on 10 June 2022 from the Queen during an audience at Windsor Castle. As a former Prime Minister, Blair, with Cherie, had a place of honour at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022.


Works

* Blair, Tony (2010). '' A Journey''. London:
Random House Random House is an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world. The company has several independently managed subsidiaries around the world. It is part of Penguin Random House, which is owned by Germ ...
. . . * Blair, Tony (2002). ''The Courage of Our Convictions''. London:
Fabian Society The Fabian Society is a History of the socialist movement in the United Kingdom, British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of social democracy and democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist effort in demo ...
. . * Blair, Tony (2000). ''Superpower: Not Superstate? (Federal Trust European Essays)''. London: Federal Trust for Education & Research. . * Blair, Tony (1998). ''The Third Way: New Politics for the New Century''. London: Fabian Society. . * Blair, Tony (1998). ''Leading the Way: New Vision for Local Government''. London: Institute for Public Policy Research. . * Blair, Tony (1997). ''New Britain: My Vision of a Young Country''. New York:
Basic Books Basic Books is a book publisher founded in 1950 and located in New York City, New York, now an Imprint (trade name), imprint of Hachette Book Group. It publishes books in the fields of psychology, philosophy, economics, science, politics, sociolo ...
. . * Blair, Tony (1995).
Let Us Face the Future
'. London: Fabian Society. . * Blair, Tony (1994).
What Price a Safe Society?
'. London: Fabian Society. . * Blair, Tony (1994).
Socialism
'. London: Fabian Society. .


See also

* Blatcherism * Bush–Blair 2003 Iraq memo * Cash-for-Honours scandal * Cultural depictions of Tony Blair * Parliamentary motion to impeach Tony Blair ** ''
Halsbury's Laws of England ''Halsbury's Laws of England'' is a uniquely comprehensive encyclopaedia of law, and provides the only complete narrative statement of law in England and Wales. It has an alphabetised title scheme covering all areas of law, drawing on authoriti ...
'' (2004), reference to impeachment in volume on
Constitutional Law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a State (polity), state, namely, the executive (government), executive, the parliament or legislature, and the judiciary; as well as th ...
and Human Rights, paragraph 416


Explanatory notes


References


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


The Office of Tony Blair
– Official website
Tony Blair Faith Foundation
* *
The Blair Years – Timeline
at ''
BBC News BBC News is an operational Division (business), business division of the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs in the UK and around the world. The department is t ...
'' * * * * at www.pm.gov.uk * , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Blair, Tony 1953 births Living people 20th-century prime ministers of the United Kingdom 21st-century prime ministers of the United Kingdom 21st-century memoirists Alumni of St John's College, Oxford Alumni of the Inns of Court School of Law British diplomats British memoirists British monarchists Commission for Africa members Congressional Gold Medal recipients Converts to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism English autobiographers English people of Irish descent English Roman Catholics Fellows of St John's College, Oxford Former Marxists Labour Party prime ministers of the United Kingdom Labour Party (UK) MPs for English constituencies Labour Friends of Israel Leaders of the Labour Party (UK) Leaders of the Opposition (United Kingdom) Members of Lincoln's Inn Members of the Fabian Society Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom People educated at Fettes College People educated at the Chorister School, Durham People named in the Pandora Papers Politicians from Edinburgh Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients Presidents of the European Council Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom Sedgefield (borough) Transport and General Workers' Union-sponsored MPs Trimdon UK MPs 1983–1987 UK MPs 1987–1992 UK MPs 1992–1997 UK MPs 1997–2001 UK MPs 2001–2005 UK MPs 2005–2010 Yale University faculty The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Writers about religion and science Knights of the Garter Politicians awarded knighthoods