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The Right Honourable
 Tony Blair

Blair at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (January 29, 2009)

In office
2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007
Monarch Elizabeth II
Deputy John Prescott
Preceded by John Major
Succeeded by Gordon Brown

In office
21 July 1994 – 2 May 1997
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by John Major

In office
19 July 1992 – 21 July 1994
Leader John Smith
Preceded by Roy Hattersley
Succeeded by Jack Straw

In office
13 May 1989 – 19 July 1992
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Michael Meacher
Succeeded by Frank Dobson

In office
7 June 1988 – 13 May 1989
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by John Prescott
Succeeded by Frank Dobson

In office
14 May 1987 – 7 June 1988
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Bryan Gould
Succeeded by Robin Cook

Member of Parliament
for Sedgefield
In office
9 June 1983 – 27 June 2007
Preceded by Constituency Established
Succeeded by Phil Wilson
Majority 18,449 (44.5%)

Born 6 May 1953 (1953-05-06) (age 56)
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Birth name Anthony Charles Lynton Blair
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Cherie Booth
Relations William Blair
Children Euan, Nicky, Kathryn, Leo
Residence Connaught Square
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Occupation Envoy
Profession Lawyer
Religion Anglican (Before 2007)
Catholic (2007–present)
Website Tony Blair Office

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a former British Labour 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 for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007; he resigned from all these positions in June 2007.

Tony 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"[1] and moved towards the centre ground.[2][3] Blair led Labour to a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. 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 regional devolution, establishing the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Actions not announced in the manifesto included giving control of interest rates to the Bank of England and introducing university tuition fees.

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 United States foreign policy, notably by participating in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. In his first six years, Blair had British troops ordered into battle five times — more than any other prime minister in British history.[4]

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, Chancellor of the Exchequer.[5] On the day he resigned as Prime Minister, he was appointed the official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East on behalf of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and Russia.

In May 2008 Blair launched his Tony Blair Faith Foundation.[6] 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 National University of Singapore in Asia to deliver a postgraduate programme in partnership with the Foundation.[7][8]


Background and family life

Blair was born in Edinburgh, Scotland[9] on 6 May 1953,[10] the second son of Leo and Hazel Blair (née Corscadden). Leo Blair, the illegitimate[11] son of two English actors, had been adopted as a baby by Glasgow 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 but returned to (and later died in) Ballyshannon in 1923, where his wife, Sarah Margaret (née Lipsett), gave birth to Blair's mother, Hazel, above her family's grocery shop.[12][13] George Corscadden was from a family of Protestant farmers in County Donegal, Ireland,[14] who descended from Ulster-Scots settlers who took their family name from Garscadden, now part of Glasgow.

Life as a child

Tony Blair has one elder brother, Sir William Blair, a High Court judge, and a younger sister, Sarah. Tony 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.[9] In the 1950s, his family spent three and a half years living in Adelaide, Australia, where his father was a lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide.[15] The Blairs lived close to the university, in the suburb of Dulwich. The family returned to Britain in the late 1950s, living for a time with Hazel Blair's stepfather, William McClay, and her mother at their home in Stepps, near Glasgow. He spent the remainder of his childhood in Durham, England, where his father lectured at Durham University.


After attending Durham's Chorister School from 1961 to 1966,[16] Blair boarded at Fettes College, an independent school in Edinburgh, where he met Charlie Falconer (a pupil at the rival Edinburgh Academy), whom he later appointed Lord Chancellor. He reportedly modelled himself on Mick Jagger.[17] 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."[18] Blair was arrested at Fettes, having being mistaken for a burglar as he climbed into his dormitory using a ladder after having been out late.[19]

Tony Blair's wife, Cherie Booth, QC.

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.[20] 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.[21] 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 at Oxford, Hazel Blair died of cancer, which greatly affected him. After graduating from Oxford in 1976 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. He appears in a number of reported cases, for example as in Nethermere (St Neots) Ltd v Gardiner[22] where he unsuccessfully represented employers in a dispute over holiday pay for employees at a trouser factory.[23]

Marriage and children

Blair married Booth, a Catholic and future Queen's Counsel, on 29 March 1980. They have four children: Euan Anthony, Nicholas John, Kathryn Hazel, and Leo George. 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. There was criticism when it was discovered that Euan received private tuition from staff at Westminster School.[24] All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Blair's mother Hazel, and his daughter Kathryn uses hers while travelling.[25]

Personal health

Blair suffered from chest pains on Sunday 19 October 2003 and underwent a cardioversion at Hammersmith Hospital.[26]

Religious faith

On 22 December 2007, it was disclosed that Blair had converted to the Catholic faith, and that it was "a private matter".[27][28] He had informed Pope Benedict XVI 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 that included Archbishop of Westminster Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who would be responsible for Blair's Catholic instruction.[29]

During a visit to Italy, on 22 February 2003, when he met with Pope John Paul II, Blair and his wife stayed at the Irish College in Rome.[30] In 1996, he was reprimanded by Basil Cardinal Hume for receiving Holy Communion at Mass despite not being a Catholic, a contravention of Canon Law.[31]

In an interview with Michael Parkinson broadcast on ITV1 on 4 March 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."[32]

A longer exploration of his faith can be found in an interview with Third Way Magazine. He says there that "I was brought up as [a 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".[33]

At one point Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of strategy and communications, intervened in an interview, preventing the Prime Minister from answering a question about his Christianity, explaining, "We don't do God".[34]

Cherie Blair's friend and "spiritual guru" Carole Caplin is credited with introducing her and her husband to various New Age symbols and beliefs, including "magic pendants" known as "BioElectric Shields".[35] 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 that involved smearing mud and fruit over each others' bodies while sitting in a steam bath.[36]

Later on, Blair questioned the Pope's attitude towards homosexuality, arguing that religious leaders must start "rethinking" the issue.[37] He was later rebuked by Vincent Nichols, the new archbishop of Westminster, who said that Catholic thinking was 'rather different' from the kind promoted by the former prime minister.[38]

On 14 January 2009 Blair, upon a visit to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., described, in the guest book, his home as being 'Jerusalem'.[39] This was followed shortly after, on the occasion of his addressing of the National Prayer Breakfast, by his discussion of the issue of religion in the world and the Middle East peace process in his address and how he spends so much of his time in the Holy Land and in the Holy City. He reported his Palestianian guide as bemoaning the fate of his nation looking to heaven and saying “Moses, Jesus, Mohammed: why did they all have to come here?” For Blair the Holy City is "a good place to reflect on religion: a source of so much inspiration; an excuse for so much evil."[40]

Early political career

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. He unsuccessfully attempted to secure selection as a candidate for Hackney Borough Council. Through his father-in-law, Tony Booth, he contacted Labour MP Tom Pendry to ask for help in pursuing a Parliamentary career. Pendry gave him a tour of the House of Commons and advised him to stand for selection as a candidate in a forthcoming by-election in the safe Conservative seat of Beaconsfield, where Pendry knew a senior member of the local party. Blair was chosen as the candidate; at the Beaconsfield by-election, he won only 10% of the vote and lost his deposit, but he impressed Labour Party leader Michael Foot and acquired a profile within the party. In contrast to his later centrism, Blair made it clear in a letter he wrote to 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.[41]

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's election literature in the 1983 UK general election endorsed left-wing policies that Labour advocated in the early 1980s. He called for Britain to leave the EEC, though he had told his selection conference that he personally favoured continuing membership. He also supported unilateral nuclear disarmament as a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Blair was helped on the campaign trail by soap opera actress Pat Phoenix, his father-in-law's girlfriend. Blair was elected as MP for Sedgefield despite the party's landslide defeat in the general election.

In his maiden speech in the House of Commons 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."[42][43] The Labour Party is declared in its constitution to be a democratic socialist party[44] rather than a social democratic party; Blair himself organised this declaration of Labour to be a socialist party when he dealt with the change to the party's Clause IV in their constitution.

Once elected, Blair's ascent was rapid, and he received his first front-bench appointment in 1984 as assistant Treasury 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.[45] Blair demanded an inquiry into the Bank of England's decision to rescue the collapsed Johnson Matthey Bank in October 1985 and embarrassed the government by finding a European Economic Community report critical of British economic policy that had been countersigned by a member of the Conservative government. By this time, 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 77 votes.[citation needed]

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. As is customary for the holder of that office, Blair was appointed a Privy Councillor.

Leader of the Labour Party

Blair announced at the end of his speech at the 1994 Labour Party conference that he intended to replace 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 widely interpreted as referring to wholesale nationalisation.[46] At a special conference in April 1995, the clause was replaced by a statement that the party is 'democratic socialist'.[46]

At the 1996 Labour Party conference, Blair stated that his three top priorities on coming to office were "education, education, and education" [47]

Aided by the unpopularity of John Major's Conservative government (itself deeply divided over the European Union), "New Labour" won a landslide victory in the 1997 general election, ending 18 years of Conservative Party government, with the heaviest Conservative defeat since 1832.[48]

Prime Minister

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.[49] 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.

Northern Ireland

Blair addressing a crowd in Armagh in 1998.

His contribution towards assisting the Northern Ireland Peace Process by helping to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement (after 30 years of conflict) was widely recognised.[50][51] Following the Omagh Bombing 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 town and met with victims at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.[52]

War on Terror

From the start of the War on Terror in 2001, Blair strongly supported United States foreign policy, notably by participating in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. As a result, he faced criticism over the policy itself and the circumstances in which it was decided upon—especially his claims that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, which have not been discovered. Speaking to the Chilcot Inquiry Alastair Campbell declared Blair's assertion that the intelligence on WMDs was beyond doubt was Blair ' giving his assessment of the assessment that was given to him.' [53] In 2009, Blair stated that he would have supported removing Saddam Hussein from power even in the face of proof that he had no such weapons.[54] Some people, including Nobel prizewinning playwright Harold Pinter and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, have accused Blair of "war crimes".[55][56]

The Chilcot inquiry

On 29 January 2010, Blair appeared before The Iraq Inquiry, an investigation into the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent Iraq war. Blair told the inquiry making a covert deal to invade Iraq. When asked about reasons for invasion he said that the British and American attitude towards Saddam Hussein had "changed dramatically" after the September 11 attacks. Blair also denied that he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he had thought Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. He also said that he believed that the world was safer as a result of the invasion.[57]

Relationship with Parliament

One of his first acts as Prime Minister was to replace the then twice-weekly 15-minute sessions of Prime Minister's Questions 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 [58][59] and - from 2002 - broke precedent by agreeing to give evidence twice yearly before the most senior Commons select committee, The Liaison Committee. [60]


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.[61] His style was sometimes criticised as not that of a prime minister and head of government, which he was, but of a president and head of state—which he was not.[62]

Events prior to resignation

As the casualties of the Iraq War continued to increase and criticism of the Iraq war and its handling mounted, Blair was accused of misleading Parliament,[63][64][65] and his popularity dropped dramatically.[66][67][68] The Labour party's overall majority in the 2005 general election was reduced to 66.

As a combined result of the so-called Blair-Brown pact, the Iraq war, and low approval ratings, pressure built up within[69] the Labour party for Blair to resign.[70][71][72]

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,[73] 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 in his Sedgefield constituency, Blair announced his intention to resign as both Labour Party leader and Prime Minister the following June. At a special party conference in Manchester on 24 June 2007, he formally handed over the leadership of the Labour Party to Gordon Brown, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer during all of Blair's ten years in office.[5]

Blair tendered his resignation as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the Queen on 27 June 2007, his successor Gordon Brown assuming office the same afternoon. He also resigned his 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.[74][75] As it is impossible to resign from the UK Parliament, this device is used for MPs wishing to step down.[76]

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.[77]


In 2001, Tony Blair said, "We are a left of centre party, pursuing economic prosperity and social justice as partners and not as opposites".[78] Blair has rarely applied 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.[79] However, Labour Party backbenchers and other left wing critics typically place Blair to the right of centre.[80] A YouGov opinion poll in 2005 also found that a small majority of British voters, including many New Labour supporters, place Blair on the right of the political spectrum.[81][82] The Financial Times on the other hand has argued that Blair is not conservative, but instead a populist.[83] The new Clause IV of the Labour Party's constitution defines the party as "Democratic Socialist".

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.[84] Some left wing critics have argued that Blair has overseen the final stage of a long term shift of the Labour Party to the right, and that very little now remains of a Labour Left.[85][86] There is also evidence that Blair's long term dominance of the centre has forced his Conservative opponents to shift a long distance to the left, in order to challenge his hegemony there.[87][88]

Blair has raised taxes (but did not increase income tax for high-earners[citation needed]); introduced a minimum wage and some new employment rights (while keeping Margaret Thatcher's anti-trade union legislation[citation needed]); 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; sought to reduce certain categories of welfare payments, and introduced tough anti-terrorism and identity card legislation.[citation needed] Under Blair's government the amount of new legislation increased[89] which attracted criticism[90]. Blair increased police powers by adding to the number of arrestable offences, compulsory DNA recording and the use of dispersal orders.[91]

Environmental record

Tony Blair has criticised other governments for not doing enough to solve global climate change. 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 and said that climate change "cannot be ignored", insisting "we need to go beyond even Kyoto." [92] His record at home tends to say something different. Tony Blair and his party have promised a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide [93] but during his term the emissions rose. The Labour Party also claimed that by 2010 10% of the energy would come from renewable resources but in fact only 3% currently does.[94]

In 2000 Blair "flagged up" 100 million euros for green policies and urged environmentalists and businesses to work together.[95]

Foreign policy

Relationship with the United States

Tony Blair and George W. Bush shake hands after their press conference in the East Room of the White House on 12 November 2004.

Along with enjoying a close relationship with Bill Clinton during the latter's time in office, Blair formed a strong political alliance with George W. Bush, particularly in the area of foreign policy. At one point, Nelson Mandela described Blair as "the U.S. foreign minister".[96] Blair has also often openly been referred to as "Bush's poodle".[97] Kendall Myers, a senior analyst at the State Department, reportedly said that he felt "a little ashamed" of Bush's treatment of the Prime Minister and that his attempts to influence U.S. policy were typically ignored: "It was a done deal from the beginning, it was a one-sided relationship that was entered into with open eyes... There was nothing, no payback, no sense of reciprocity".[98]

For his part, Bush lauded Blair and the UK. In his post-11 September speech, for example, he stated that "America has no truer friend than Great Britain".[99]

The alliance between Bush and Blair seriously damaged Blair's standing in the eyes of many British people.[100] Blair argued it is in Britain's interest to "protect and strengthen the bond" with the United States regardless of who is in the White House.[101] However, a perception of one-sided compromising personal and political closeness led to serious discussion of the term "Poodle-ism" in the UK media, to describe the "Special Relationship" of the UK government and Prime Minister with the US White House and President.[102] A revealing conversation between Bush and Blair, with the former addressing the latter as "Yo, Blair" was recorded when they did not know a microphone was live at the G8 conference in Russia in 2006.[103]

Middle East policy and links with Israel

According to comments in the book, Blair, written by Anthony Seldon, Blair had a deep feeling for Israel, born in part from his faith.[104] Blair has been a long time member of the Pro-Israel lobby group Labour Friends of Israel[105][106]

In 1994, Blair met Michael Levy, later Lord Levy, a pop music mogul and fundraiser.[107] Blair and Levy soon became close friends and tennis partners. Levy ran the Labour Leader's Office Fund to finance Blair's campaign before the 1997 General Election and raised £12m towards Labour’s landslide victory, Levy was rewarded by Blair with a peerage, and in 2002, just prior to the Iraq War, Blair appointed Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East. Levy praised Blair for his 'solid and committed support of the State of Israel'.[108][109] Tam Dalyell, while Father of the House of Commons, suggested in 2003 that Blair's foreign policy decisions were unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers, including Levy and Peter Mandelson.[110] In response Mandelson said: "Apart from the fact that I am not actually Jewish, I wear my father's parentage with pride."[111]

Blair, on coming to office, had been 'cool towards the right-wing Netanyahu government'.[112] Yet with the election in 1999 of an Israeli Labour prime minister Ehud Barak, with whom Blair 'forged a close relationship', he became 'much more sympathetic to Israel, guided in part by Manning's enthusiasm for generating momentum in the Middle East peace process'.[112] From 2001 Blair also 'worked hard at building a relationship, with some success',[112] with Barak's successor, Ariel Sharon. He also 'responded positively to Arafat, whom he had met thirteen times since becoming prime minister', 'regarding him as essential to future negotiations'.[112] 'By April 2002, Blair believed he was making progress. Bush's statement of 4 April, in which he urged Sharon to withdraw from Palestinian cities recently occupied and halt further incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas, proved the highpoint of Bush's toughness with the Israeli Prime Minister.'[113] 'By the beginning of 2003, Blair redoubled his efforts to shift Bush on the Middle East policy process', which 'finally paid off when, on 14 March, Bush announced that the road map would be published as soon as Abu Mazen, the new Palestinian Prime Minister, was installed. Palestinian independence by 2005, to which Bush secured Sharon's agreement, was the goal.'[114] According to Anthony Seldon: 'None of these proposals would have been finalised, least of all so quickly, without Blair's pressing.'[114]

In 2004, 50 former diplomats, including ambassadors to Baghdad and Tel Aviv, stated they had 'watched with deepening concern' at Britain following the U.S. into war in Iraq in 2003 also stating, 'We feel the time has come to make our anxieties public, in the hope that they will be addressed in parliament and will lead to a fundamental reassessment,' and asked Blair to exert 'real influence as a loyal ally'. The ambassadors also accused the allies of having 'no effective plan' for the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and the apparent disregard for the lives of Iraqi civilians. The diplomats also criticised Blair for his support for the Road map for peace which included the retaining of Israeli settlements on the West Bank stating, 'Our dismay at this backward step is heightened by the fact that you yourself seem to have endorsed it, abandoning the principles which for nearly four decades have guided international efforts to restore peace in the Holy Land'.[115]

In 2006 Blair was criticised for his failure to immediately call for a ceasefire in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, with members of his cabinet openly criticising Israel. Jack Straw, the Leader of the House of Commons and former Foreign Secretary stated that Israel's actions risked destabilising all of Lebanon. Kim Howells, a minister in the Foreign Office, stated that it was 'very difficult to understand the kind of military tactics used by Israel'; 'These are not surgical strikes but have instead caused death and misery amongst innocent civilians.'. The Observer 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. In an interview with the BBC regarding the situation, Blair was quoted as saying, "Let us make sure with urgency we can stop this situation which is killing innocent people. Yet there had to be a long-term solution".[116]

Relationship with media

Rupert Murdoch

Tony Blair was reported to have been supported by Rupert Murdoch the founder of the News Corporation organisation.[117] In 1995, while leader of the Opposition, Blair disclosed in the Commons register of interests that he was a guest of Murdoch when he flew to meet him in Hayman Island.[118]

Contacts with UK media proprietors

A Cabinet Office freedom of information 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 of Northern and Shell Media.[119]

The response includes contacts "clearly of an official nature" in the specified period, but excludes contacts "not clearly of an official nature."[120] 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 the 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.[121][122]

The information was disclosed after a three and a half year battle by the Liberal Democrats' Lord Avebury.[119] Lord Avebury's initial October 2003 information request was dismissed by then leader of the Lords, Baroness Amos.[119] A following complaint was rejected, with Downing Street 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.[119] 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."[119]

Media portrayal

Tony Blair is acknowledged by most to be a highly skilful media performer who comes over as charismatic, informal, and articulate. A few months after becoming Prime Minister he gave a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales on the morning of her death in August 1997, in which he famously described her as "the People's Princess".[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


Blair was criticised, including by former members of his own cabinet, for his solid stance alongside U.S. President George W. Bush on Middle East policy, in particular over the Iraq War, the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[123]

Blair was accused of excessive reliance on spin.[124] He is the first British Prime Minister to have been formally questioned by police, though not under caution, while still in office.[125]

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.[126] Some ministers viewed Blair's announcement of policy initiatives in September 2006 as an attempt to draw attention away from these issues.[126]

Blair forged friendships with several conservative European leaders, including Silvio Berlusconi of Italy,[127] Angela Merkel of Germany[128] and more recently Nicolas Sarkozy of France.[129]

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. The latter, who considered himself senior of the two, understood Blair would give way to him: opinion polls soon indicated, however, that Blair appeared to enjoy greater support among voters.[130] Their relationship in power became so turbulent that the deputy prime minister John Prescott often, it was reported, had to act as "marriage guidance counsellor".[131]

Post-Prime Ministerial career


On 27 June 2007, Blair officially resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after ten years in office, and he was officially confirmed as Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia.[132] Blair originally indicated that he would retain his parliamentary seat after his resignation as Prime Minister came into effect; however, he resigned from the Commons on being confirmed for the Middle East role by taking up an office for profit.[74] 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".[133][134] In May 2008, Tony Blair announced a new plan for peace and for Palestinian rights, based heavily on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan.[135]

During the first nine days of the 2008–2009 Israel-Gaza conflict, Tony Blair spent Christmas and New Year's with his family and according to the Daily Mail he was spotted at the opening of the Armani store at Knightsbridge. Aides insisted that reports of him being on holiday were 'totally untrue'. He has, they said, been 'working tirelessly' behind the scenes 'since day one'. Since taking on the position of Middle East envoy, he is reported to be spending one week out every month in the Middle East. His spokesman was quoted as stating that, Blair had been 'working the phones' constantly since Israel's ferocious bombardment of the Palastinian coastal enclave began.[136]

Private sector

In January 2008, it was confirmed that Blair would be joining investment bank JPMorgan Chase in a "senior advisory capacity"[137] and that he would advise Zurich Financial Services on climate change. Some sources have claimed that his role at JP Morgan will pay more than $1m (£500,000) a year.[138] This additional salary will contribute to annual earnings of over £7m.[139]

Blair also gives lectures and earns up to US$250,000 for a 90-minute speech.[140][141] Yale University announced on 7 March 2008 that Blair will teach a course on issues of faith and globalisation at the Yale Schools of Management and Divinity as a Howland distinguished fellow during the 2008–09 academic year.[142]

European Council president speculation

In 2009 there there was speculation in the media that Blair was open to the idea of becoming the first President of the European Council, a post created in the Treaty of Lisbon that would come into force in 2009 if successfully ratified. Gordon Brown added his support, but noted that it was premature to discuss candidates before the treaty was approved. A spokesman for Blair did not rule out him accepting the post, but said that he was concentrating on his current role in the Middle East.[143] Blair was later invited to speak on European issues at a rally of President Sarkozy 's party, the Union for a Popular Movement, on 12 January 2008, which fueled speculation further.[144][145]

There was some opposition to Blair's candidature for the job. In the UK, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats said they would oppose Blair. In Germany, the leader of the Free Democrats, Guido Westerwelle, who is also Germany's new foreign minister, has said that he preferred a candidate from a smaller European country.[146] The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker emerged as a rival to Tony Blair's candidature and had the backing for many of the smaller European member states. In November, the Belgian PM Herman van Rompuy was named President of the European Council .[147][148]


On 14 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."[149] On 30 May 2008, Blair launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as a vehicle for encouraging different faiths to join together 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".[150] In February 2009, he applied to set up a charity called the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, the application was approved in November 2009.[151]


In May 2007, before his resignation, it was reported[152] that Blair would be offered a Knighthood in the Order of the Thistle, rather than the Order of the Garter, owing to his Scottish connections. No such move has been reported since, and on St. Andrew's Day, the Queen appointed two other men to the only openings in the limited Order.

Blair is presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.

On 22 May 2008, Blair received an honorary law doctorate from Queen's University Belfast, alongside former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, for distinction in public service and roles in the Northern Ireland peace process.[153]

On 13 January 2009, Blair was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom 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"[154] 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.[155][156]

On 16 February 2009, Blair was awarded the Dan David Prize 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.[157][158]


On 4 March 2010 it was reported that Blair's memoirs, "The Journey" would be published in September 2010 [159]

Portrayals and cameo appearances


Blair made an animated cameo appearance as himself in The Simpsons episode, "The Regina Monologues" (2003).[160] He has also appeared himself at the end of the first episode of The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, a British TV 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 Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern.[161] On 16 March 2007, in a comedy sketch with Catherine Tate, 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 fundraising programme of 2007. During the sketch, Blair used Lauren's catchphrase "Am I bovvered?".[162]


Michael Sheen has portrayed Blair twice, in the films The Deal (2003) and The Queen (2006), and shall reprise the role once more in The Special Relationship. Blair was portrayed by Robert Lindsay in the TV programme A Very Social Secretary; he reprised the role in The Trial of Tony Blair. He was also portrayed by James Larkin in The Government Inspector (2005), and by Ioan Gruffudd in W. (2008).[citation needed]

Blair in fiction and satire

The Ghost

When Blair resigned as Prime Minister, Robert Harris, a former Fleet Street 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.[163] In November 2007 it was announced that Roman Polanski was to direct the film version of the novel, and would be writing the script with Harris. The film The Ghost Writer was released in February 2010 in the US.[164]

Titles and honours

Styles from 1983 election

  • Mr Anthony Charles Lynton Blair MP (1983–1994)
  • The Rt Hon Anthony Charles Lynton Blair MP (1994–2007)
  • The Rt Hon Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (2007–)



  • Blair, Tony (2002). The Courage of Our Convictions Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0603-4
  • Blair, Tony (2000). Superpower: Not Superstate? (Federal Trust European Essays) Federal Trust for Education & Research, ISBN 1-903403-25-1
  • Blair, Tony (1998). The Third Way: New Politics for the New Century Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0588-7
  • Blair, Tony (1998). Leading the Way: New Vision for Local Government Institute for Public Policy Research, ISBN 1-86030-075-8
  • Blair, Tony (1997). New Britain: My Vision of a Young Country Basic Books, ISBN 0-8133-3338-5
  • Blair, Tony (1995). Let Us Face the Future Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0571-2
  • Blair, Tony (1994). What Price Safe Society? Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0562-3
  • Blair, Tony (1994). Socialism Fabian Society, ISBN 0-7163-0565-8

See also


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  155. ^ For services rendered? George Bush awards 'staunch friend' Tony Blair Presidential Medal Of Freedom | Mail Online
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Further reading

  • Abse, Leo (2001). Tony Blair: The Man Behind the Smile. Robson Books. ISBN 1-86105-364-9. 
  • Beckett, F. & Hencke, D. (2004). The Blairs and Their Court. Aurum Press. ISBN 1-84513-024-3. 
  • ——— (2003). Tony Blair: The Man Who Lost His Smile. Robson Books. ISBN 1-86105-698-2. 
  • Blair, Tony (1998). (ed.) Iain Dale. ed. The Blair Necessities: Tony Blair Book of Quotations. Robson Books. ISBN 1-86105-139-5. 
  • ——— (2004). (ed.) Paul Richards. ed. Tony Blair: In His Own Words. Politico's Publishing. ISBN 1-84275-089-5. 
  • Gould, Philip (1999). The Unfinished Revolution: How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party. Abacus. ISBN 0-349-11177-4. 
  • Naughtie, James (2001). The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage. Fourth Estate. ISBN 1-84115-473-3. 
  • ——— (2004). The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency. Macmillan. ISBN 1-4050-5001-2. 
  • Rawnsley, Andrew (2000). Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour. Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-14029-3. 
  • ——— (2001). Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour (2nd ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-027850-8. 
  • Rentoul, John (2001). Tony Blair: Prime Minister. Little Brown. ISBN 0-316-85496-4. 
  • Riddell, Peter (2004). The Unfulfilled Prime Minister: Tony Blair and the End of Optimism. Politico's Publishing. ISBN 1-84275-113-1. 
  • Seldon, Anthony (2004). Blair. Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-3211-9. 
  • Short, Clare (2004). An Honourable Deception? New Labour, Iraq, and the Misuse of Power. Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-6392-8. 
  • Stephens, Philip (2004). Tony Blair: The Making of a World Leader. Viking Books. ISBN 0-670-03300-6. 
  • Wheatcroft, Geoffrey (2007). Yo, Blair!. Methuen. ISBN 9781842732067. 


External links

Political offices
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Bryan Gould
Shadow Minister for Trade
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Robin Cook
Preceded by
John Prescott
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy
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Frank Dobson
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Michael Meacher
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
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Roy Hattersley
Shadow Home Secretary
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Jack Straw
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Margaret Beckett
Leader of the Opposition
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John Major
Preceded by
John Major
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007
Succeeded by
Gordon Brown
Minister for the Civil Service
2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007
First Lord of the Treasury
2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007
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Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Council
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Wolfgang Schüssel
Party political offices
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Leader of Labour Party (UK)
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Diplomatic posts
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Preceded by
George W. Bush
Chair of the G8
Succeeded by
Vladimir Putin
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Constituency re-established
Member of Parliament for Sedgefield
Succeeded by
Phil Wilson


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Tony Blair

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6, 1953) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 2, 1997 to June 27, 2007. He was an employment law barrister before being elected to Parliament as Labour Party MP for the constituency of Sedgefield in 1983. Becoming Labour Party leader in 1994, he adopted moderate pro-free market policies and won a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. His decision to send UK forces to assist in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was highly controversial and surrounding scandals tarnished his image, although he was re-elected in 2005.



  • 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 co-operation, not confrontation; for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality, not because it wants people to be the same but because only through equality in our economic circumstances can our individuality develop properly.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, vol. 45, col. 316.
    • Maiden speech as MP for Sedgefield, 6 July 1983.

As Leader of the Opposition

  • I shall not rest until, once again, the destinies of our people and our party are joined together again in victory at the next general election Labour in its rightful place in government again.
    • Philip Webster, "Blair sets sights on Downing Street", The Times, 22 July 1994.
    • Speech on being elected Leader of the Labour Party, 21 July 1994.
  • The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.
    • Mail on Sunday, 2 October 1994.
  • Any parent wants the best for their children. I am not going to make a choice for my child on the basis of what is the politically correct thing to do.
    • "Mr Blair opts out", Guardian, 2 December 1994. Statement on 1 December 1994, defending his decision to send his eldest son Euan to the London Oratory School which had opted out of local education authority control under a policy which the Labour Party opposed.
  • Tony Blair: Has the Prime Minister secured even the minimal guarantee from the Euro-rebels that, on a future vote of confidence on Europe, they will support him?
    John Major: I can sense the concern in the right hon. Gentleman's voice. Perhaps he would like to tell me whether he has received the support of the 50 MPs who defied his Front Bench over Maastricht; of the 40 who defied him over European finance; on a single currency, where the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) was in dispute with the deputy leader of the Labour party; and on clause IV, which half his, I think he called them, infantile MEPs want to keep. He does not, and his deputy leader does one day and does not the next. These are party matters. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what his position is?
    Tony Blair: There is one very big difference—I lead my party, he follows his.
    • Hansard, House of Commons 6th series, vol. 258, cols. 655-6.
    • Prime Minister's Question Time, 25 April 1995.
  • We have no plans to increase tax at all.
    • Philip Bassett, "Blair pledges he will not raise tax", The Times, 21 September 1995, p. 1.
    • Response to questioning about Labour Party tax plans at a CBI seminar in Birmingham, 20 September 1995.
  • I didn't come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change the country.
    • Michael White, "Blair wants 'to make UK young again'", Guardian, 4 October 1995.
    • Speech to the Labour Party conference, 3 October 1995.
  • I want to see a publicly-owned railway, publicly accountable.
    • Paul Routledge, "Why the unions aren't rocking Blair's boat", Independent on Sunday, 8 October 1995.
    • Speech to the Labour Party conference, 3 October 1995.
  • I can't stand politicians who wear God on their sleeves.
    • Sunday Telegraph, 7 April 1996.
  • Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education and education. We are 35th in the world league of education standards – 35th. At every level, radical improvement and reform.
    • "We are back as the people's party, says Blair", The Times, 2 October 1996.
  • Isn't it extraordinary that the Prime Minister of our country can't even urge his Party to back his own position. Weak! Weak! Weak!
    • Prime Ministers Questions, 30 January 1997.
    • Speech to Labour Party conference, 1 October 1996.
  • If there are further steps to European integration, the people should have their say at a general election or in a referendum.
    • "New Britain: My vision of a young country", p. 70
  • Powers that are constitutionally there can be used but the Scottish Labour Party is not planning to raise income tax and once the power is given it is like any parish council: it's got the right to exercise it.
    • The Scotsman, 4 April 1997.
    • Asked whether he would intervene to prevent the Scottish Parliament from raising taxes.
  • Sovereignty rests with me as an English MP and that's the way it will stay.
    • ibid.

As Prime Minister

  • My message to Sinn Fein is clear. The settlement train is leaving. I want you on that train. But it is leaving anyway and I will not allow it to wait for you.
    • David McKittrick, "Blair offers a fresh start for Irish peace", The Independent, 17 May 1997, p. 1.
    • Speech at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Show, 16 May 1997.
  • I was born in 1953, a child of the Cold War era, raised amid the constant fear of a conflict with the potential to destroy humanity. Whatever other dangers may exist, no such fear exists today. Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war. That is a prize beyond value.
    • Martin Bentham, "You're the boss, Tony", The Sun, 28 May 1997, p. 2.
    • Speech at a summit in Paris between NATO and Russia, 27 May 1997.
  • She was the people's princess and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories for ever.
    • Frank Millar, "Shocked Britain mourns loss of Princess Diana in Paris car crash", Irish Times, 1 September 1997, p. 1.
    • Statement on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, 31 August 1997.
  • I would never do anything to harm the country or anything improper. I think most people who have dealt with me think I'm a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am.
    • Trevor Kavanagh, "Blair: My big blunder", The Sun, 17 November 1997, p. 8.
    • Interview with John Humphrys on BBC TV's "On the Record", 16 November 1997.
  • A day like today is not a day for, sort of, soundbites, really - we can leave those at home - but I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders, I really do.
    • Julia Langdon, "The gloves are off in the Speaker's corner", Herald (Glasgow), 9 April 1998, p. 21.
    • Statement to the press on arriving at Hillsborough Castle for the Northern Ireland talks, 7 April 1998.
  • We do, as a new Government, have to be extremely careful after 18 years in opposition. A lot of people who worked for us, they then go on and work for the lobby firms. I think we have to be very careful with people fluttering around the new Government, trying to make all sorts of claims of influence, that we are purer than pure, that people understand that we will not have any truck with anything that is improper in any shape or form at all.
    • David Hughes, "'Don't flutter around us' Blair warns lobbyists", Daily Mail, 8 July 1998, p. 2.
    • After a scandal about lobbying and access; this statement is often misremembered as "whiter than white".
  • The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people's conflicts. Non-interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or foment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as 'threats to international peace and security'. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa.
  • If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar. But we need to find a new way to make the UN and its Security Council work if we are not to return to the deadlock that undermined the effectiveness of the Security Council during the Cold War. This should be a task for members of the Permanent Five to consider once the Kosovo conflict is complete.
  • A New Britain where the extraordinary talent of the British people is liberated from the forces of conservatism that so long have held them back, to create a model 21st century nation, based not on privilege, class or background, but on the equal worth of all.
  • I can stand here today, leader of the Labour Party, Prime Minister, and say to the British people: you have never had it so ... prudent.
  • There have been the most terrible, shocking events taking place in the United States of America within the last hour or so, including two hi-jacked planes being flown deliberately into the World Trade Centre. I am afraid we can only imagine the terror and the carnage there and the many, many innocent people who will have lost their lives. I know that you would want to join with me in sending the deepest condolences to President Bush and to the American people on behalf of the British people at these terrible events.

    This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today. It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life and we, the democracies of this world, are going to have to come together to fight it together and eradicate this evil completely from our world.
    • Trades Union Congress
    • Speech to the Trades Union Congress. 11 September 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks of that day had begun.
  • For the moment, let me say this: Saddam Hussein's regime is despicable, he is developing weapons of mass destruction, and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked. He is a threat to his own people and to the region and, if allowed to develop these weapons, a threat to us also.
    • Hansard, House of Commons 6th series, vol. 383, col. 23.
    • House of Commons statement on discussions with President Bush over the Middle East, 10 April 2002.
  • I don't like it, to be honest, when politicians make a big thing of their religious beliefs, so I don't make a big thing of it.
  • Look, I'm a person, an individual with a character and part of my character is about what I believe in and part of my beliefs obviously is a religious conviction. I simply hesitate whenever I get drawn into this territory because I have found, over time, that it either leads to people misunderstanding the basis upon which you are taking decisions or it leads to people trying to colonise God or religion for one particular political position. I make no claims to that at all.
  • [The Joint Intelligence Committee] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.
    • Hansard House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 390, col. 3.
    • House of Commons statement on publication of the dossier concerning Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction, 24 September 2002.
  • Sometimes, and in particular dealing with a dictator, the only chance of peace is a readiness for war.
    • Speech to the Labour conference in Blackpool, 2 October 2002. Perhaps echoes an old latin proverb, Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, be prepared for war).
  • Lead me into know I believe in you.
    • [1] Meeting with George W. Bush on January 31, 2003.
  • The intelligence is clear: [Saddam Hussein] continues to believe that his weapons of mass destruction programme is essential both for internal repression and for external aggression. It is essential to his regional power. Prior to the inspectors coming back in, he was engaged in a systematic exercise in concealment of those weapons.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 400, col. 123.
    • House of Commons statement on Iraq, 25 February 2003.
  • If we don't act now, we can't keep those people down there forever. We can't wait forever. If we don't act now, then we will go back to what has happened before and then of course the whole thing begins again and he carries on developing these weapons and these are dangerous weapons, particularly if they fall into the hands of terrorists who we know want to use these weapons if they can get them.
    • Prime Minister's website
    • Appearing in "MTV Forum - Is War the Answer?", recorded on 6 March 2003, transmitted on 11 March 2003.
  • We are asked now seriously to accept that in the last few years–contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence–Saddam decided unilaterally to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 301, col. 762.
    • House of Commons debate on Iraq, 18 March 2003.
  • This is the time not just for this Government–or, indeed, for this Prime Minister—but for this House to give a lead: to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right; to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk; to show, at the moment of decision, that we have the courage to do the right thing.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 301, cols. 773-774.
    • Conclusion of speech in the House of Commons debate on Iraq, 18 March 2003.
  • As I have said throughout, I have no doubt that they will find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 406, col. 161.
    • Replying to questions following statement on the G8 summit, House of Commons, 4 June 2003.
  • What amazes me is how many people are happy for Saddam to stay. They ask why we don't get rid of Mugabe, why not the Burmese lot. Yes, let's get rid of them all. I don't because I can't, but when you can you should.
    • Michael Ignatieff, "Why Are We In Iraq? (And Liberia? And Afghanistan?)", New York Times, 5 September, 2003.
  • We've already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves.
    • Peter Beaumont, "PM admits graves claim 'untrue'", The Observer, 18 July, 2004.
    • Statement reported in "Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves" produced by USAID, dated 20 November, 2003.
  • I thought that it was the most predictable speech that we could have heard from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He may want to pose as the nice Dr. Jekyll, but we know that, deep down, he is still the same old Mr. Howard.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 415, col. 23.
    • Debate on the Queen's Speech, 26 November, 2003.
  • It has been an unrelenting, but, I have to accept, at least partly successful campaign to persuade Britain that Europe is a conspiracy aimed at us, rather than a partnership designed for us and others to pursue our national interest properly in a modern, interdependent world. It is right to confront this campaign head on. Provided that the treaty embodies the essential British positions, we shall agree to it as a Government. Once agreed – either at the June Council, which is our preference, or subsequently – Parliament should debate it in detail and decide upon it. Then, let the people have the final say.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 420, col. 157.
    • House of Commons Statement on the publication White Paper on Europe, 20 April 2004.
  • What you can't do is have a situation where you get a rejection of the treaty and then you just bring it back with a few amendments and say we will have another go. You can't do that and I am not going to get drawn into speculating the way forward because I don't intend to lose the referendum.
  • Do I know I'm right? Judgements aren't the same as facts. Instinct is not science. I'm like any other human being, as fallible and as capable of being wrong. I only know what I believe.
    • Full text of Blair's speech, BBC News online
    • Speech to the Labour Party Conference, 28 September 2004, referring to the fact that no WMDs had been found in Iraq.
  • Don't say yes to that question, that would be difficult.
    • At a joint press conference with George W. Bush, 13 November 2004. Blair interrupted when a reporter asked Bush if he sees Blair as his poodle.
  • It is not a sensible or intelligent response for us in Europe to ridicule American argument or parody their political leadership.
  • Sir Michael Spicer: What are the characteristics of old Labour that he dislikes so much?
    Tony Blair: I am afraid that the Hon. Gentleman will have to repeat that.
    Sir Michael Spicer: What are the characteristics of old Labour that he dislikes so much?
    Tony Blair: Basically, that it never won two successive terms of Government and, perhaps, that it never put the Conservative party flat on its back, which is where it is now. Thankfully, we are running an economy with low inflation, low mortgage rates and low unemployment; fortunately, we are doing a darn sight better than the Government of whom the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, who had—I thank him for allowing me to mention this—interest rates at 10 per cent. for four years, 3 million unemployed and two recessions. Whether it is old Labour or new Labour, it is a darn sight better than the Tories.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 430, col. 302
    • In the House of Commons, 26 January 2005.
  • I fear my own conscience on Africa. I fear the judgement of future generations, where history properly calculates the gravity of the suffering. I fear them asking: but how could wealthy people, so aware of such suffering, so capable of acting, simply turn away to busy themselves with other things? What greater call to action could there be? Did they really know and yet do nothing? I feel that judgement of the future alongside the now. It gives me urgency. It fills me with determination.
  • Yes, I did have to struggle very hard to get this [the vote on the Iraq war] through, but the reason I did it was because I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't take this on myself... just because I thought, 'Let's give myself a really hard time for a couple of years!'
    • On BBC Question Time's election special programme, 28 April, 2005.
  • I understand there is a need for a stable and orderly transition to that leadership, but that people should give me the space to ensure that happens and that this debate is not best conducted in the pages of the Mail on Sunday.
    • Michael White, "I will go in my own time – Blair", The Guardian, 12 May 2005, p. 2.
    • Speech to the Parliamentary Labour Party, 11 May 2005; the 'leadership' referred to was that of his successor, who was widely assumed to be Gordon Brown.
  • Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge.
  • It is important that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.
  • The spirit of our age is one in which the prejudices of the past are put behind us, where our diversity is our strength. It is this which is under attack. Moderates are not moderate through weakness but through strength. Now is the time to show it in defence of our common values.
  • Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 439, col. 302.
    • 9 November 2005, responding to Charles Kennedy in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions. Blair was referring to the likely defeat in Parliament of additional powers to detain terror suspects without charge, which happened later that day.
  • This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation.
  • To state a timetable now would simply paralyze the proper working of government, put at risk the changes we are making for Britain and damage the country.
  • We can only protect liberty by making it relevant to the modern world.
  • He wants a Bill of Rights for Britain drafted by a Committee of Lawyers. Have you ever tried drafting anything with a Committee of Lawyers?
  • In this day and age if you've got the technology then it's vital to use that technology to track people down. The number on the database should be the maximum number you can get.
    • BBC News online
    • Remarks while touring the Forensic Science Service, concerning the police DNA database, 23 October 2006.
  • That's the art of leadership. To make sure that what shouldn't happen, doesn't happen.
    • Stryker Mcguire. "I Did It My Way", Newsweek International, 2007-02-26. URL accessed on 2007-02-20.
    • Interview with Newsweek.
  • I couldn't live with myself if I thought that these big strategic choices for my generation were there, and I wasn't even making them – or I was making them according to what was expedient rather than what I actually thought was right.
  • So, of course, the visions are painted in the colours of the rainbow, and the reality is sketched in duller tones of black and white and grey. But I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong. That is your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.
  • The British are special. The world knows it. In our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth. So it has been an honour to serve it. I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times that I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short. But good luck.
  • The fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no-one dares miss out.
  • The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, "It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified."
  • Some may belittle politics but we who are engaged in it know that it is where people stand tall. Although I know that it has many harsh contentions, it is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. If it is, on occasions, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes. I wish everyone, friend or foe, well. That is that. The end.

Post-Prime Ministerial career

  • Analogies with the past are never properly accurate and analogies especially with the rising fascism can be easily misleading, but in pure chronology I sometimes wonder if we're not in the 1920s or 1930s again... This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilising countries whose people wish to live in peace.
  • I think this has gone beyond, as it were, Al Qaida as a specific network. I mean, this is -- there is no central command in this ideology, the way that, you know, you would normally describe one unit of -- that leads and operation. It's not like that. But the fact is that they are loosely linked by an ideology. They have very strong links with each other, right across the national boundaries. And you know, would be no surprise to me if the people that were engaged in the Mumbai attacks had links with other countries as well.
    • CNN, Decembeer 7, 2008 [2]


  • Well, Margaret Thatcher is perhaps the politician I have the greatest admiration for. I am reading her memoirs at the moment.
    • Said to have been Blair's answer when asked which politician he most admired, from an interview published in the Sunday Mirror in September 1996.
  • Having our own ambassador making these statements about Karimov is acutely embarrassing. It's bad for British business interests, it's bad for the stability in the region. I mean, he sends back these dossiers full of stories of what Karimov's security forces have supposed to have done, he sends them to the foreign office or whatever, he sends them directly to us, I mean does he think I'm going to read it, does he imagine that I'm interested in this stuff?
    • Allegedly said by Blair during a conversation with Jack Straw in the House of Commons, supposedly overheard by a Labour backbencher. Blair is referring to the repressive Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. Britain's then ambassador was at the time publicly denouncing Karimov's regime for human rights abuses and sending dossiers to Downing Street detailing Karimov's torture and murder of political dissidents and opponents.
  • Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far, far greater.
    • [Speech to the Labour Party Conference, October 2, 2001]

About Tony Blair

  • I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged. I said from the start that there was something wrong in his head, and each passing year convinces me more strongly that this man is a pathological confidence-trickster. To the extent that he even believes what he says, he is delusional. To the extent that he does not, he is an actor whose first invention — himself — has been his only interesting role.
  • He was the future, once...
    • David Cameron on Blair during their first exchange in Prime Ministerial Questions
  • I view him as the kind of air guitarist of political rhetoric. I don't think he's debased political debate because he lies, I actually sadly think he believes a lot of what he says, that's what's so depressing about it, for people who stand outside of politics. So my rather bizarre viewpoint — should he go? — it feels like he left a long time ago, leaving this Tony Blair shaped hole that carries on talking."
  • Torture, encouraged from above, became a fact of life [in occupied Iraq]. Perhaps some good liberal apologist for Blair will soon explain how democratic torture is much nicer than authoritarian torture.
  • A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.
  • Like millions of others, I now bitterly resent that a prime minister could use such a farrago of lies and manipulation to deceive us and to take the nation to war so dishonestly.
  • Tony Blair, a passionate Christian, has expressed his conviction that WMDs will be found in almost directly religious terms of credo quia absurdum: despite the lack of evidence, he personally is deeply convinced that they will be found. ... The only appropriate answer to this conundrum is not the boring liberal plea for innocence until guilt is proved but, rather, the point made succintly by 'Rachel from Scotland' on the BBC website in September 2003: 'We know he had weapons; we sold him some of them.' This is the direction a serious investigation should have taken.
  • In the early days of his government, Tony Blair liked to paraphrase the famous joke from Monty Python's Life of Brian ('All right, but apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?') in order ironically to disarm his critics: 'They betrayed socialism. True, they brought more social security, they did a lot for healthcare and education, and so on, but, in spite of all that, they betrayed socialism.' As it is clear today, it is, rather, the reverse which applies: 'We remain socialists. True, we practice Thatcherism in economics, we attack asylum-seekers, beggars and single mothers, we made a deal with Murdoch, and so on, but, none the less, we're still socialists.'
  • Yeah, Blair, how are you doin'?
    • George W. Bush, During the G8 Meeting
    • Frequently misheard as 'Yo, Blair'.
  • Somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do. He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

The Right Honourable
Anthony Charles Lyton Blair

In office
May 2 1997 – June 27 2007
Deputy John Prescott
Preceded by Sir John Major
Succeeded by Gordon Brown
Constituency Sedgefield

Born May 6 1953
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political party Labour
Spouse Cherie Booth

Anthony Charles Lyton Blair, usually called Tony Blair, is a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was born in Edinburgh and became the Prime Minister in 1997. He retired in June 2007 and was succeeded by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, James Gordon Brown .

As leader of the Labour party, he won three general elections in the UK, in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He is married to Cherie Booth. They met on the top deck of a double-decker bus in 1975. Cherie claimed "It was a double-decker and we went upstairs. It was completely empty and by the time we got off we knew each other better than when we'd got on. And even better the next morning. He was a very good-looking young man, tall and slim, yet broad in the shoulders. A really strong body."[1]. Cherie Blair is a lawyer, who graduated from the London School of Economics with a first class honours degree. Blair himself left Oxford University with a second class degree. They have four children, Euan, Nicky, Kathryn, and Leo. There was a controversy over Blair sending his son Euan to a grant-maintained school. As a result of this, Alastair Campbell discovered Tony "standing stark naked reading the Daily Mail"[2]

He attributes his success in politics to a pair of lucky brogues which he wore for every single Prime Ministers Questions of his leadership. He claimed that "cheap shoes are a false economy".[3]


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