Born In: Edinburgh, Scotland
Tony Blair is a British politician who served as one of the youngest and longest-serving prime ministers of Britain. He was the leader of the ‘Labour Party’ from 1994 to 2007. Like many of his predecessors, Blair’s tenure as prime minister was marked with controversies. During his tenure, he was even accused of war crimes. He rebuked the conventional style of politics, which was followed by his party at that time. Under his leadership, his party came to be known as the ‘New Labour Party.’ He implemented several socio-economic reforms to alleviate poverty and bring down unemployment, while focusing on elevating the living standards of people. He also showed great concern for environmental hazards, such as global warming, which his predecessors had overlooked. However, his decisions that led Britain to several wars, especially the ‘War on Terror’ declared by the U.S., put him at odds with his party as well as his countrymen. He was also criticized for extending unconditional support to the invasions carried out by the US in the Middle East. His party members and the public were enraged by his decision to involve England in wars. According to his party members and the public, his decisions not only violated human rights and disrupted peace, but also exhausted a substantial amount of Britain’s financial reserves.
Also Known As: Anthony Charles Lynton Blair
Spouse/Ex-: Cherie Booth (m. 1980)
father: Leo Blair
mother: Hazel Blair
siblings: Sarah Blair, William Blair
children: Euan Blair, Kathryn Blair, Leo Blair, Nicky Blair
Born Country: Scotland
political ideology: British Labour Party
City: Edinburgh, Scotland
education: St John's College, Oxford (1976), Fettes College, Chorister School, Durham, University of Oxford
awards: 2009 - Presidential Medal of Freedom
2009 - Dan David Prize
2003 - Congressional Gold Medal
2010 - Liberty Medal
Tony Blair was born Anthony Charles Lynton Blair on 6 May 1953, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Leo and Hazel Blair. He was raised in Durham, England, where he attended ‘The Chorister School’ from 1961 to 1966.
His father was a famous attorney who ran for the parliament as a Tory in 1963. After suffering a serious stroke, he had to abandon his political dreams. This drove his family into financial difficulties and Tony, who was only 10, learned to live through hardships.
After completing school, he attended ‘Fettes College,’ Edinburgh, where he performed rock music, drawing inspiration from the great musician Mick Jagger. He left ‘Fettes’ and went to ‘St John's College,’ Oxford, to study Law. At ‘St John's College,’ he joined the college rock band ‘Ugly Rumors.’
At Oxford, Blair’s association with Peter Thompson, a fellow student and priest, influenced and shaped his political and religious outlook. His interest in the political affairs germinated and he decided to actively participate in politics.
After completing his graduation in 1975, he entered ‘Lincoln's Inn,’ where he joined as an apprentice under Lord Chancellor, Alexander Irvine.
He stepped into the world of politics by joining the ‘Labour Party.’ In 1982, he was chosen to represent the party in the parliament for Beaconsfield District. Although he lost his first election, he was seen as a potential candidate. In 1983, he won the election, earning a seat in the parliament, representing Sedgefield District.
After the election, his hard work and dedication towards the party continued to impress the party members which fueled his political growth. In 1984, he was appointed as the assistant Treasury spokesman
As Treasury spokesman, one of his primary moves was opposing the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. In 1987, he was promoted to the position of spokesman of Trade and Industry.
In 1988, he was made the Shadow Secretary of Energy by the Shadow ministry. The Shadow ministry is an alternative cabinet, comprising members from the opposition who keep a close eye on the policies and actions of the government.
When Neil Kinnock, the leader of the opposition, resigned in 1992, Blair was made the Shadow Home Secretary. He served under John Smith, the newly elected leader of the party.
In 1994, John Smith died of cardiac arrest, and Blair was elected as the Leader of the Opposition. He was also appointed to the Privy Council.
Following his election as the leader of the ‘Labour Party’ in the parliament, he proposed several policies pertaining to taxation, crimes, and education, along with various other reformative measures. In 1996, during one of Labour Party’s conferences, he mentioned “education, education, and education” as his top three priorities.
The unpopularity of Conservative leader John Major, in the wake of several scandals, proved advantageous for Blair. In the 1997 general elections, the ‘Labour Party’ achieved a sweeping victory over the Conservatives. On May 2, 1997, Blair was sworn in as the prime minister of the United Kingdom.
As the new PM, he raised the taxes, announced minimum wages, implemented new employment rights, introduced new rights for the homosexuals, and signed several treatises in his pursuit to unify Britain with the European Union.
Even in health and educational sectors, he introduced innumerable reforms, revoked many categories of welfare payments, implemented stringent anti-terrorism measures, and passed legislation pertaining to the issuance of identity cards to the citizens. He vested the police force with more power which consequently increased the number of punishable offences. He also made DNA recording mandatory.
His government undertook several initiatives to reduce the level of poverty and increase the number of social services in Britain. Poverty declined to a great extent and the overall health conditions of the people also improved during his tenure. Nearly 1.7 million under-paid workers were benefitted from his minimum wage policy and over two million people were rescued from poverty.
He also worked towards improving the environment. While addressing the United States Congress, he assured about 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. He also stated that by 2010 about 10% of the energy required by Britain would be obtained from renewable resources.
During his tenure, the United Kingdom participated in five major battles: (1) 1998, when England joined hands with the U.S to attack Iraq on the latter’s failure to comply with the UN on arms reduction, (2) 1999, ‘Kosovo War,’ (3) 2000, ‘Sierra Leone Civil War,’ (4) 2001, after the 9/11 terror strikes in the US, America declared ‘War on Terror’ and Britain joined hands with the US by sending troops to the battle against Afghanistan, and (5) 2003, when the US invaded Iraq, Britain supported the invasion wholeheartedly by sending troops.
His foreign policy, especially concerning the US, was severely criticized and his popularity as the PM started to plummet. However, his involvement in the ‘Northern Ireland Peace Process settlement’ garnered a lot of appreciation.
On June 7, 2001, he achieved a landslide victory in the general elections and was re-elected as the prime minister. He was re-elected to a third term on May 5, 2005.
Due to the rising casualties of British soldiers in the Iraq war, Blair's popularity dropped drastically and he was accused of misleading the Parliament. Also, the Labour Party's overall majority in the 2005 general election was reduced to 66. In view of this situation, Blair was forced to resign. On 27 June 2007, he handed over the leadership of the ‘Labour Party’ to Gordon Brown.
The day he resigned, he was appointed Special Envoy of the ‘Quartet on the Middle East.’ The Quartet comprises the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia. It was formed in 2002 in order to pacify the escalating conflict in the Middle East.
In 2007, he set up the ‘Tony Blair Sports Foundation’ in order to "increase childhood participation in sports activities, especially in the North East of England, where a larger portion of children are socially excluded, and to promote overall health and prevent childhood obesity."
After his retirement, he dedicated most of his time to charitable works. He also established the ‘Tony Blair Faith Foundation,’ a nonprofit organization, to promote understanding and tolerance among people belonging to different faiths.
In 2016, Blair established the ‘Tony Blair Institute’ to promote global outlooks by governments and organizations. He currently runs a non-profit organization called ‘Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.’
He is viewed as a criminal by many human rights activists, including Desmond Tutu, Harold Pinter, and Arundhati Roy who have demanded his trial in the ‘International Criminal Court’ for endorsing wars and invasions.
He was awarded the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ by the US President George W. Bush on 13 January 2009 for his extensive support in the ‘War on Terror’ and also for playing a pivotal role in achieving peace in Northern Ireland.
On 13 September 2010, he was awarded the ‘Liberty Medal’ at the ‘National Constitution Center’ in Philadelphia by former US President Bill Clinton.
On 29 March 1980, Blair married Cherie Booth and the couple has four children.
Blair, who was an Anglican, converted to Catholicism in secret. This was revealed on December 22, 2007.
In 2010, he published his memoirs titled ‘A Journey’; within hours of its launch, the book became the fastest-selling autobiography of all time.
When this famous British politician became the leader of the ‘Labour Party,’ the party’s name was changed to ‘New Labour.’
This politician was the second youngest person to become the prime minister of the UK.
This famous politician had a son in May 2000, and became the first serving British prime minister in 150 years to have a child.
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