Tony Blair

1953 -

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He served as Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1997 and held various shadow cabinet posts from 1987 to 1994. Blair was Member of Parliament (MP) for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007. He is the second-longest-serving prime minister in post-war British history (after Margaret Thatcher) and the longest-serving Labour politician to have held the office. Blair attended the independent school Fettes College, studied law at St John's College, Oxford, and qualified as a barrister. He became involved in the Labour Party and was elected to the House of Commons in 1983 for the Sedgefield constituency in County Durham. As a backbencher, Blair supported moving the party to the political centre of British politics. He was appointed to Neil Kinnock's shadow cabinet in 1988 and was appointed shadow home secretary by John Smith in 1992. Following Smith's death in 1994, Blair won a leadership election to succeed him. As leader, Blair began a historic rebranding of the party, which became known as "New Labour". Blair became the youngest prime minister of the 20th century after winning the 1997 general election, Labour's largest general election victory in history. 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, tuition fees for higher education, constitutional reform such as devolution in Scotland and Wales, an extensive expansion of LGBT rights in the UK, and significant progress in the Northern Ireland peace process with the passing of the landmark Good Friday Agreement. On foreign policy, Blair oversaw British interventions in Kosovo in 1999 and Sierra Leone in 2000, which were generally perceived to be successful. Blair was re-elected in a second landslide in 2001. Three months into his second term, Blair's premiership was shaped by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, resulting in the start of the war on terror. Blair supported the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration by ensuring that the British Armed Forces participated in the War in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, destroy al-Qaeda, and capture Osama bin Laden. In 2003, Blair supported the invasion of Iraq and had the British Armed Forces participate in the Iraq War, on the erroneous claims that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction and developed ties with al-Qaeda. Blair was re-elected in 2005, in part thanks to the UK's strong economic performance, but with a substantially reduced majority, due to the UK's involvement in the Iraq War. During his third term, Blair pushed for more systemic public sector reform and brokered a settlement to restore powersharing to Northern Ireland. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars continued, and in 2006, Blair announced he would resign within a year. He resigned the party leadership on 24 June 2007 and as prime minister on 27 June, and was succeeded by Gordon Brown, his chancellor. After leaving office, Blair gave up his seat and was appointed special envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, a diplomatic post he held until 2015. He has been the executive chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change since 2016 and has made occasional political interventions. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Companion of the Garter in 2022. At various points in his premiership, Blair was among both the most popular and most unpopular politicians in British history. As prime minister, he achieved the highest recorded approval ratings during his first few years in office but also one of the lowest ratings during and after the Iraq War. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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