Tony Blair

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Blair, Tony

(Anthony Charles Lynton Blair), 1953–, British politician, b. Edinburgh. An Oxford-educated lawyer, he was first elected to Parliament in 1983 as the Labour partyLabour party,
British political party, one of the two dominant parties in Great Britain since World War I. Origins

The Labour party was founded in 1900 after several generations of preparatory trade union politics made possible by the Reform Bills of 1867 and 1884,
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 candidate from a district in N England. Articulate and telegenic, Blair rose quickly in the party organization. He was chosen as Labour's leader after the death (1994) of John SmithSmith, John,
1938–94, British politician. A barrister, he was first elected to Parliament in 1970 as a Labour party member from Scotland. He served as secretary for trade in 1970 and subsequently as Labour spokesperson on a number of economic and industrial issues,
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, even though he, unlike previous leaders, had no roots in the labor movement and rejected socialist doctrine. (His principal opponent for the post, Gordon BrownBrown, Gordon
(James Gordon Brown), 1951–, British politician. From 1975 to 1980 he taught at Edinburgh Univ. and Glasgow College of Technology; he then joined Scottish Television (1980–83) as a journalist.
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, stepped aside in deal that led to Brown's becoming chancellor of the exchequer in 1997.) As leader, he endeavored to reposition the party as a moderate center-left alternative to the Conservatives.

In 1997, when Blair led Labour to power for the first time since 1979, he became the youngest prime minister since the early 1800s (David CameronCameron, David William Duncan
, 1966–, British political leader, b. London. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he worked for the Conservative party's research department beginning in 1988, became an adviser to two high-ranking government ministers, and headed corporate
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 was even younger when he took office in 2010). He moved quickly to implement a "third way" program, reducing Labour's traditional reliance on state action to address social problems; to establish elected representative bodies in Scotland and Wales; to negotiate peace in Northern Ireland; and to cooperate politically with the third-party Liberal Democrats. Internationally, Blair worked improve ties with other European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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 nations while moving slowly, due in part to public and political resistance, on monetary union and adoption of the euro; in his first term, he also was an outspoken proponent of the use of NATO forces in the KosovoKosovo
, Albanian Kosova, Serbian Kosovo i Metohija and Kosmet, officially Republic of Kosovo, republic (2011 est. pop. 1,826,000), 4,126 sq mi (10,686 sq km), SE Europe, a former province of Serbia that unilaterally declared its independence in 2008.
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 crisis. Blair's critics, however, charged that he was more style than substance. Despite a lack of enthusiasm for Blair's leadership style, which many regarded as arrogant, voters again gave him and Labour a resounding victory at the polls in 2001, making him the first Labour prime minister to win to consecutive terms in office.

Following the Sept., 2001, attacks by terrorists in the United States, Blair gave America highly visible support, including the use of British military forces, in its retaliation against Afghanistan and Osama bin Ladenbin Laden, Osama or Usama
, 1957?–2011, Saudi-born leader of Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization devoted to uniting all Muslims and establishing a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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. He also strongly supported the Bush administration in its insistence that Iraq readmit UN weapons inspectors and disarm or face military action and, despite opposition from the British public and in the Labour party to war with Iraq, he committed British troops to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. After the invasion, when biological and chemical weapons were not readily found in Iraq, he and his government were criticized for having exaggerated the threat that Iraq represented.

Iraq hurt Blair and Labour politically and led to a diminished margin of victory in the 2005 parliamentary elections, but Blair nonetheless secured a record third consecutive term for a Labour government. Under pressure from many in his party, Blair announced (2006) that he would resign as party leader and prime minister, and he did so in June, 2007. His terms as prime minister were marked by sustained economic growth, in part due to the policies of Gordon Brown, and by steady, if sometimes fitful, progress toward peace in Northern Ireland, but in other areas, such as education and health, improvements were minor at best, and the reform of the House of Lords was largely incomplete. Brown succeeded Blair as party leader and prime minister, and Blair subsequently resigned from Parliament. After Blair stepped down he became (2007–15) special envoy for the quartet (the European Union, Russia, the United States, and the United Nations) seeking to negotiate a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. He also established an international consulting business focused on corporate and governmental clients. A convert (2007) to Roman Catholicism, he established (2008) a foundation to promote interfaith understanding.

Bibliography

See his memoirs (2010); biography by P. Stephens (2004); C. Coughlin, American Ally: Tony Blair and the War on Terror (2005).

References in periodicals archive ?
Minkin here identifies three key precepts in the Blairite ethos which were systematically applied to managing the party: the 'delivery ethic', unswerving loyalty to the leader and a vanguard conception of politics.
Blairite governments introduced a massive programme to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor through tax credits.
BLAIR and the Blairites were back, like the undead, last week with the new edition of Blair's ludicrously air-brushed memoirs.
Ever since former prime minister Tony Blair handed over the Labour leadership and premiership to Brown, Blairites have sought to humiliate him.
Disastrous Blairite policies of the past must not be allowed to dominate the agenda again, which I am sure is the view of Jeremy Corbyn and the majority of the British people.
It's Blairite in the sense of wanting a pro-business and pro-worker (rather than pro-claimant) Labour Party - and one that's willing to consider new ways of delivering public services too.
According to the paper, Mr Milburn, a Blairite who clashed with Mr Brown when he was in government, has said he would be happy to take the Treasury role.
Compare Eden's legacy to the Blairite legacy and one will see immediately that Blair is just a name associated with war and turmoil and not much else.
The Cardiff West AM wants to see the contest for Tony Blair's job get under way sooner rather than later if any Blairite ministers intend taking on the Chancellor in a ballot.
Hats off to the Labour Party, who have learnt the lessons of selecting an English Blairite lackey to fight the seat of Blaenau Gwent in last year's election by radically opting for a Welsh Blairite lackey this time around.
In any event his New Labour agenda has not been buried and Blairite 'reforms' on education, anti-terrorism, semi-privatisation and law and order will continue.
Progress is a Blairite word and it was striking that Mr Brown did not bang on about the Labour government or socialism in the same way as he did last year when he mentioned the word Labour many, many more times than did Mr Blair.