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Date of Birth: 06/05/1953
Biography: A former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He resigned from all of these positions in June 2007.
Blair was elected Leader of the Labour Party in the leadership election of July 1994, following the sudden death of his predecessor, John Smith. Under his leadership, the party adopted the term "New Labour" and moved away from its traditional left wing position towards the centre ground. Blair subsequently led Labour to a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. At 43 years old, he became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812. In the first years of the New Labour government, Blair's government implemented a number of 1997 manifesto pledges, introducing the minimum wage, Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act, and carrying out devolution, establishing the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Blair's role as Prime Minister was particularly visible in foreign and security policy, including in Northern Ireland, where he was involved in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. From the start of the War on Terror in 2001, Blair strongly supported the foreign policy of US President George W. Bush, notably by participating in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. Blair is the Labour Party's longest-serving Prime Minister, the only person to have led the Labour Party to three consecutive general election victories, and the only Labour Prime Minister to serve consecutive terms more than one of which was at least four years long.
He was succeeded as Leader of the Labour Party on 24 June 2007 and as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007 by Gordon Brown. On the day he resigned as Prime Minister, he was appointed the official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East. In May 2008, Blair launched his Tony Blair Faith Foundation. This was followed in July 2009 by the launching of the Faith and Globalisation Initiative with Yale University in the USA, Durham University in the UK and the National University of Singapore in Asia to deliver a postgraduate programme in partnership with the Foundation.
Blair’s full name is Anthony Charles Lynton, he was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the second son of Leo and Hazel Blair (nee Corscadden). Leo Blair, the illegitimate son of two English actors, had been adopted as a baby by Glasgow shipyard worker James Blair and his wife, Mary.
Blair has one elder brother, Sir William Blair, a High Court judge, and a younger sister, Sarah. Blair spent the first 19 months of his life at the family home in 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. In the 1950s, his family spent three and a half years in Adelaide, Australia, where his father was a lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide. The Blairs lived close to the university, in the suburb of Dulwich. The family returned to the UK in the late 1950s and he spent the remainder of his childhood in Durham, England, where his father lectured at Durham University.
After attending The Chorister School in Durham from 1961 to 1966, Blair boarded at Fettes College, a prestigious independent school in Edinburgh.
After Fettes, Blair spent a year in London, where he attempted to find fame as a rock music promoter before reading jurisprudence at St John's College, Oxford. As a student, he played guitar and sang in a rock band called Ugly Rumours. During this time, he dated future American Psycho director Mary Harron.
He was influenced by fellow student and Anglican priest Peter Thomson, who awakened within Blair a deep concern for religious faith and left-wing politics. While Blair was at Oxford, his mother Hazel died of cancer, which greatly affected him. After graduating from Oxford in 1975 with a Second Class Honours BA in Jurisprudence, Blair became a member of Lincoln's Inn, enrolled as a pupil barrister, and met his future wife, Cherie Booth (daughter of the actor Tony Booth) at the law chambers founded by Derry Irvine (who was to be Blair's first Lord Chancellor), 11 King's Bench Walk Chambers.
Blair joined the Labour Party shortly after graduating from Oxford in 1975. During the early 1980s, he was involved in Labour politics in Hackney South and Shoreditch, where he aligned himself with the "soft left" of the party. In 1992 Blair was selected as the Labour candidate in the safe Conservative seat of Beaconsfield, where there was a forthcomming by-election. Although Blair lost the Beaconsfield by-election (the only election he lost in his 25-year political career) he gained 10% of the vote and acquired a profile within the party. In contrast to his later centrism, Blair made it clear in a letter he wrote to Labour leader Michael Foot in July 1982, that he had "come to Socialism through Marxism" and considered himself on the left. The letter was eventually published in June 2006.
In 1983, Blair found the newly created constituency of Sedgefield, a notionally safe Labour seat near where he had grown up in Durham. The branch had not made a nomination, and Blair visited them. Several sitting MPs displaced by boundary changes were interested in securing selection to fight the seat. With the crucial support of John Burton, Blair won their endorsement; at the last minute, he was added to the short list and won the selection over Les Huckfield. Burton later became Blair's agent and one of his most trusted and longest-standing allies.
Blair became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 2 May 1997, serving concurrently as First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Labour Party. The 43-year old Blair became the youngest person to become Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812, at the age of 42. With victories in 1997, 2001, and 2005, Blair was the Labour Party's longest-serving prime minister, the only person to lead the party to three consecutive general election victories.
In his first six years in office Blair ordered British troops into battle five times, more than any other prime minister in British history. This included Iraq in both 1998 and 2003; Kosovo (1999); Sierra Leone (2000) and Afghanistan (2001).
As the casualties of the Iraq War mounted, Blair was accused of misleading Parliament, and his popularity dropped dramatically. The Labour party's overall majority in the 2005 general election was reduced to 66. 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. On 7 September 2006, Blair publicly stated he would step down as party leader by the time of the Trades Union Congress (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.
Once elected, Blair's political ascent was rapid. He received his first front-bench appointment in 1984 as assistant Treasury spokesman. Blair was aligned with the reforming tendencies in the party (headed by leader Neil Kinnock) and was promoted after the 1987 election to the shadow Trade and Industry team as spokesman on the City of London. In 1987, he stood for election to the Shadow Cabinet, receiving 71 votes.
Blair became Shadow Home Secretary under John Smith. John Smith died suddenly in 1994 of a heart attack. Blair beat John Prescott and Margaret Beckett in the subsequent leadership election and became Leader of the Opposition.
He went on to inherit the Labour leadership at a time when the party was ascendant over the Tories in the opinion polls since the Tory government's reputation for monetary excellence was left in tatters by the Black Wednesday 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) had overseen since the end of the 1990-92 recession.
Blair married Cherie Booth, a Roman Catholic and future Queen's Counsel, 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 on 11 July 1849. Blair was criticised when it was discovered that one child had received private tuition from staff at Westminster School. All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Blair's mother Hazel. The family's primary residence is in Connaught Square, and the Blairs own eight other residences.
Actor Robert Lindsay portrayed Blair in the Channel 4 satire: A Very Social Secretary and The Trial of Tony Blair. Lindsay is known for his left-wing politics. He describes himself as a staunch socialist, and has marched in the past in support of miners. He vehemently opposed Prime Minister Tony Blair's decisions to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now feels disillusioned with mainstream politics: "You see those images of Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon, don't you? And I suspect somewhere, when he goes home at night and the kids are in bed, he must go, Jesus, what have I done?"