Tony Blair, Prime Minister UK
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

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Blair, Anthony Charles Lynton
Birth Date: 05/06/1953 (May 06, 1953)
Birth Time: 06:10 (06:10 AM) GDT(+0:00)
Birth Place: Edinburgh, Scotland
Latitude / Longitude: 55 N 57 / 3 W 13
Rodden Rating / Source: AA / Quoted BC/BR


Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is... everyone now accepts that if there is a default by Saddam the international community must act to enforce its will.

However much I dislike the idea of abortion, you should not criminalize a woman who, in very difficult circumstances, makes that choice.

I can only go one way. I've not got a reverse gear.
(Mars in Gemini conjunct Jupiter & Gemini Ascendant.)

I didn't come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change the country.

I feel like everyone else in this country today. I am utterly devastated.

I may find Saddam Hussein's regime abhorrent - any normal person would - but the survival of it is in his hands.

If there is one thing Britain should learn from the last 50 years, it is this: Europe can only get more important for us.

It is not an arrogant government that chooses priorities, it's an irresponsible government that fails to choose.
(Saturn conjunct Neptune in Libra in 6th house.)

Labour is the party of law and order in Britain today. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.

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.

Power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile. This is a party of government and I will lead it as party of government.
(Sun square Pluto in Leo.)

The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.

The City whizz-kids, with salaries only fractionally less than their greed, now seem not only morally dubious, but incompetent.

The threat from Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons capability - that threat is real.
(Mars & Jupiter conjunct Ascendant.)

There is no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror. Just a choice: Defeat it or be defeated by it. And defeat it we must.

This is not a battle between the United States of America and terrorism, but between the free and democratic world and terrorism.

We, therefore, here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy, and we, like them, will not rest until this evil is driven from our world.

Ask me my three priorities for Government, and I tell you: education, education and education.

I just want to say this. I want to say it gently but I want to say it firmly: There is a tendency for the world to say to America, "the big problems of the world are yours, you go and sort them out," and then to worry when America wants to sort them out.

“This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today”

“Understand the causes of terror? Yes, we should try, but let there be no moral ambiguity about this: nothing could ever justify the events of September 11 and it is to turn justice on its head to pretend it could”

“The Iraqis have succeeded in drafting this constitution despite the action of terrorists who are trying to destroy the country's desire for a peaceful future,”

“The way to stop the innocent dying is not to retreat, to withdraw, to hand these (Iraqi) people over to the mercy of religious fanatics or relics of Saddam.”

“We are angry. We are angry about extremism and about what they are doing to our country, angry about their abuse of our good nature, ... We welcome people here who share our values and our way of life. But don't meddle in extremism because if you meddle in it ... you are going back out again.”

“Not one inch should we give to these people ... We shouldn't even allow them a vestige of an excuse for what they do,”

“Coming to Britain is not a right, ... And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty. That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life. Those that break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people have no place here.”

“I am not asking anyone to surrender. I am asking everyone to declare the victory of peace.”

“Now is not the time for sound-bites. I can feel the hand of history on my shoulder' - On the signing of the Good Friday Agreement”

“There is, of course, a place for managing change. There is no place for resisting change,”
(Uranus opposition Chiron.)

“[Blair has made clear that he believed the threat was real and had pressed for broader anti-terrorism powers that critics said would endanger Britain's traditional freedoms.]
Should any terrorist act occur, there will not be any debate about civil liberties, ... There will be a debate about the advice the government received and whether they followed it. I've got the advice, I intend to follow it.”
Tony Blair quote

“You've got to be prepared to hold for what is right.”

“Africa should no longer beg for debt relief but assert it as a moral and historical right .”

“If we want effective (international) institutions, then those effective international institutions have to take into account of the world today and not the world that was.”

“If Europe does not open up, if it thinks its future lies in protectionism, then it will lose in the end,”

“I think people know that this global terrorism that we face in India, in Britain and around the world comes from a perversion of the true faith of Islam,”

“I have just dealt with one myth, that this is about Christians versus Muslims -- it isn't -- nor is about the West versus the Arab world, nor is it about oil.”

“It is offensive and historically inaccurate to blur the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust with the suffering of various other peoples over the years. The systematic German extermination of six million European Jews is unique the annals of human history and morality.”

“The United Nations should live up to its name,”

“Terrorism won't be defeated until our determination is as complete as theirs, our defense of freedom is as absolute as theirs is of fanaticism, ... they play on our divisions, exploit our hesitations.”

“For the first time at this Summit, we are agreed that States do not have the right to do what they will within their own borders, but that we, in the name of humanity, have a common duty to protect people when their own governments will not, ... in particular how to allow nations to develop civil nuclear power but not nuclear weapons.”

“We are engaged in a major strategic battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, because international terrorism has decided to make both countries a battleground”

“In keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive we remember the importance of working together for a better future for our shared world,”

“The world is on the move, the change in the early 21st century even greater than that of the late 20th century. So now in turn, we have to change again,”

“terrorists who use 21st-century technology to fight a pre-medieval religious war utterly alien to the future of humankind.”

“I also know that people know me in private, they know that I'm as able to laugh and joke with everybody else.”

“We are a principled nation and this is a principled conflict.”

“Amid the enormity of what has happened to America, nobody will forget that this was the worst terrorist attack on British citizens in my country's history, ... The bonds between our countries, for so long so strong, are even stronger now.”

“I think all of our experience with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein teaches us that diplomacy has very little chance of working unless it is clear to him that if diplomacy does not work, that the threatened reality of force is there,”
Tony Blair quote

“That commitment is total, ... This is not a battle for NATO. This is not a battle for territory. It is a battle for humanity. It is a just cause.”
Tony Blair quote


Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office since 2 May 1997
Born 6 May 1953 Edinburgh, Scotland
Spouse Cherie Booth
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Member of Parliament (MP) for Sedgefield.

He has been leader of the Labour Party since July 1994, following the death of John Smith in May 1994. Blair led Labour to power with a landslide victory in the 1997 general election replacing John Major as Prime Minister and ending 18 years of Conservative government. He is the Labour Party's longest-serving Prime Minister, and the only person to have led the party to three consecutive general election victories. The youngest person to be appointed Prime Minister since 1812, [1] he has deployed British armed forces into four conflicts: in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Along with Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson, Blair is credited with moving the Labour Party towards the centre of British politics, using the term "New Labour" to distinguish his policies of support for the market economy from the party's older policy of nationalisation. He has referred to his policy as "modern social democracy" and "the third way" - a development partly supported by the reform socialist thinktank, the Fabian Society, of which Blair is a member (in common with the vast majority of Labour MPs). Supporters on the left feel that Blair places insufficient emphasis on traditional Labour priorities such as the redistribution of wealth and investment in public services. Although Blair has tended not to make any issue of his faith, some have commented on his religious position as high church Anglo-Catholic; in a 2006 interview he said he considered himself ultimately accountable to God for his actions, particularly his decisions to commit UK troops to military action [2].

Since the 11th September attacks on New York and Washington, Blair's political agenda has been dominated by international affairs, especially with the United States-led "War on Terror". He has controversially supported some aspects of US President George W. Bush's foreign policy, including sending British troops to participate in Afghanistan since 2001, and in Iraq since 2003; Blair's related anti-terrorism legislation has also been controversial.

In October 2004, Blair declared his intention to seek a third term but not a fourth. The Labour party won a third term in government at the 2005 general election for the first time in its history, although its majority in the House of Commons was reduced to 66. The fall in Labour's share of the vote renewed speculation as to how long his leadership would continue. On 14 May 2006, the Independent on Sunday reported that Blair had privately assured ministers that he would step down in the summer of 2007[3]. It is widely predicted that he will be succeeded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown at some point before the next General Election, to be held by 3 June 2010.

Blair was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the second son of Leo and Hazel Blair (née Corscadden). Leo Blair was the illegitimate son of two English actors, Charles Parsons and Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson, whilst Hazel Corscadden's family were Protestants from County Donegal, Ireland. He has one elder brother, William Blair, who is a QC.

Blair spent his early childhood in Adelaide, Australia, where his father was a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Adelaide.[4] The Blairs lived close to the university in the inner-eastern suburb of Dulwich.

Blair spent the remainder of his childhood years in Durham, England, his father being by then a law lecturer at Durham University. After attending Durham's Chorister School, Blair was educated at Fettes College, a fee-paying school in Edinburgh (sometimes called the "Eton of Scotland"), where he met Charlie Falconer, whom he later appointed as Lord Chancellor. Blair's biographer John Rentoul reported that "All the teachers I spoke to ... said he was a complete pain in the backside, and they were very glad to see the back of him." After Fettes, he read law at St John's College, Oxford. During his college years he also played guitar and sang for a rock band called Ugly Rumours. After graduating from Oxford with a second class degree (Oxford did not divide the second class into 2:1 and 2:2 until later), Blair enrolled as a pupil barrister and met his future wife, Cherie Booth, at the Chambers of Derry Irvine, who was to be the first Lord Chancellor appointed by Blair. Biographer Rentoul also records that according to Blair's lawyer friends, the future PM voiced much less concern regarding party affiliation than to his aim of becoming PM.

Blair married Booth, a practising Roman Catholic (and future Queen's Counsel), on 29 March 1980. They have three sons (Euan, Nicky, and Leo) and one daughter (Kathryn). Leo (born 20 May 2000) 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. Leo was the centre of a debate over the MMR vaccine when Blair, citing his family's right to privacy, refused to say whether or not his son had received the triple MMR vaccine or single inoculations. As is usual in what Roman Catholics would term a "mixed marriage", their children are being brought up as Catholics. Blair has attended Mass with his family every Sunday, and has been seen attending Mass at Westminster Cathedral alone. In April 2006, it was revealed that Father Michael Seed conducts a private mass in 10 Downing Street for the whole family.[5] Blair once expressed a desire to take Roman Catholic communion, but was advised by Basil Cardinal Hume that the Eucharist is reserved for baptised Catholics. Blair has the closest ties of any British Prime Minister to the Roman Catholic Church.

Euan and Nicky attended the London Oratory School in Fulham where they could be educated in accordance with the Catholic faith of their mother. When this decision was announced, Blair was criticised for rejecting schools in Islington, where he then lived. These schools included a Catholic boys' school. Euan Blair received widespread publicity after police found him "drunk and incapable" in Leicester Square, London, while out celebrating the end of his GCSE exams in July 2000, shortly after his father had proposed on-the-spot fines for drunken and yobbish behaviour. While the Blairs have stated that they wish to shield their children from the media, they have not always been able, or willing, to do so. Blair has twice lodged complaints about press stories concerning his children. However, the fact that the family have occasionally held photo calls together has led some (including former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith) to accuse him of exploitation [6], and such photographs have been used on [7]Private Eye covers. After leaving the University of Bristol, Euan obtained a position as an intern for the U.S. House Committee on Rules under David Dreier, a Republican Congressman.

Early political career

Front of Tony Blair's election address for Sedgefield in the 1983 general electionShortly after graduation in 1975, Blair joined the Labour Party. During the early 1980s, he was involved in the Labour Party in Hackney South and Shoreditch, where he aligned himself with the "soft left" who appeared to be taking control of the party. However, his attempt to secure selection as a candidate for Hackney Borough Council was unsuccessful. Through his father-in-law he contacted Tom Pendry, a Labour MP, to ask for help in how to start his Parliamentary career; Pendry gave him a tour of the House of Commons and advised him to run for selection in a by-election due to be held in the safe Conservative seat of Beaconsfield, following the death of the sitting MP Ronald Bell in 1982, and where Pendry knew a senior member of the local party. Blair was chosen as the candidate; he won only 10% of the vote and lost his deposit, and the seat was retained comfortably by Tim Smith for the Tories, but he impressed the then Labour Party leader Michael Foot and got his name noticed within the party. At the time Blair was closely associated with the soft left current in the party centred on the Labour Co-ordinating Committee and espoused (for the time) conventional leftist positions. A July 1982 letter to Foot, eventually published in the New Statesman (reprinted in The Daily Telegraph[8]) gives an impression of Blair's outlook at this time.

In 1983, Blair found that the newly created seat of Sedgefield, near where he had grown up in Durham, had no Labour candidate. Several sitting MPs displaced by boundary changes were interested. He found a branch that had not made a nomination and arranged to visit them; coincidentally, the European Cup Winners' Cup final involving Aberdeen FC was happening that night and Blair settled down to watch it with five senior members of the local party before discussing his potential candidacy. With the crucial support of John Burton he won their endorsement; at the last minute he was added to the shortlist and won the selection over displaced sitting MP Les Huckfield. Burton later became his agent and one of his most trusted and longest-standing allies.

Blair's election literature stressed the Labour Party's policies which included opposition to British membership of the EEC, despite having told the selection conference that he personally favoured continuing membership. He also, more enthusiastically, supported unilateral nuclear disarmament, being a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at the time. The seat was safely Labour despite the party's collapse in the 1983 UK general election; Blair was helped on the campaign trail by soap actress Pat Phoenix, the girlfriend of his father-in-law Anthony Booth.

Blair stated in the House of Commons on 6 July 1983: "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". [9] [10]. The Labour Party is declared in its constitution to be a Democratic Socialist party [11], not 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.

In opposition
Once elected, Blair's ascent was rapid, and he received his first shadow position in 1984 as assistant Treasury spokesman. He 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 an EEC report critical of British economic policy that had been countersigned by a member of the Conservative government. Blair was firmly aligned with the reforming tendencies in the party, headed by leader Neil Kinnock, and was promoted after the 1987 election to the Trade and Industry team as spokesman on the City of London. He laid down a marker for the future by running for the Shadow Cabinet in 1987, obtaining 77 votes. This was considered a good showing for a newcomer.

As Shadow Employment Secretary, Blair announces that the Labour Party no longer supports the 'closed shop' (18 December 1989)The stock market crash of October 1987 raised the prominence of Blair, who inveighed against the 'morally dubious' City whiz-kids as being incompetent. He signalled his modernising stance by protesting against the third-class service for small investors at the London Stock Exchange. Blair entered the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy in 1988, and the next year became Shadow Employment Secretary. In this post he realised that the Labour Party's support for the emerging European 'Social Charter' policies on employment law meant dropping the party's traditional support for closed shop arrangements, whereby employers required all their employees to be members of a trade union. He announced this change in December 1989, outraging the left-wing of the Labour Party but making it more difficult for the Conservatives to attack.

As a young and telegenic Shadow Cabinet member, Blair was given prominence by the party's Director of Communications Peter Mandelson. However his first major platform speech at the Labour Party conference in October 1990 was a disastrous embarrassment when he spoke too fast and lost his place in his notes. He worked to produce a more moderate and electable party in the run-up to the 1992 general election, in which he had responsibility for developing the minimum wage policy that was expected to be strongly attacked by the Conservatives. During the election campaign Blair had a notable confrontation with the owner of a children's nursery, who was adamant that the policy would cost jobs.

When Kinnock resigned after the defeat by John Major in the 1992 UK general election, Blair became Shadow Home Secretary under new leader John Smith. Blair defined his policy (in a phrase that had actually been coined by his current Chancellor Gordon Brown) as "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". This had been an area in which the Labour Party had been weak and Blair moved to strengthen its image. He accepted that the prison population might have to rise, and bemoaned the loss of a sense of community, which he was prepared to blame (at least partly) on '1960s liberalism'. However, Blair spoke in support of equalisation of the age of consent for gay sex and opposed capital punishment.

Smith died suddenly in 1994 of a heart attack. Both Blair and Gordon Brown had been considered as possible leadership contenders and had always agreed that they would not fight each other. Brown had previously been thought the most senior and understood this to mean that Blair would give way to him; however, it soon became apparent that Blair now had greater support. A MORI opinion poll published in the Sunday Times on 15 May found that among the general public, Blair had the support of 32%, John Prescott, 19%, Margaret Beckett 14%, Gordon Brown 9%, and Robin Cook 5%. At the Granita restaurant in Islington on 31 May, Brown agreed to give way. There is no conclusive evidence of the terms of any wider "Granita Pact" but supporters of Brown maintain that Blair undertook to resign as Prime Minister after a set period in favour of Brown. The Labour Party Electoral College elected Blair as party leader on 21 July 1994, the other candidates being John Prescott and Margaret Beckett. After becoming Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, Blair was, as is customary for the holder of that office, appointed a member of the Privy Council, which permitted him to be addressed with the style "The Right Honourable".

Leader of the Labour Party
Shortly after his election as Leader, Blair announced at the conclusion of his 1994 conference speech that he intended to propose a new statement of aims and values for the Labour Party to replace the charter drawn up in 1918. This involved the complete replacement of Clause IV, which had committed the party to 'the common ownership of the means of production and exchange' (widely interpreted as wholesale nationalisation). A special conference of the party approved the change in March 1995.

The cover of Labour's 1997 general election manifestoWhile in Opposition, Blair also revised party policy in a manner that enhanced the image of Labour as competent and modern. He used the term "New Labour" to distinguish the party under his leadership from what had gone before. Although the transformation aroused much criticism (its alleged superficiality drawing fire both from political opponents and traditionalists within the "rank and file" of his own party), it was nevertheless successful in changing public perception. At the 1996 Labour Party conference, Blair stated that his three top priorities on coming to office were "education, education and education".

Aided by disaffection with the Conservative government (which was dogged by allegations of corruption, and long-running divisions over Europe), "New Labour" achieved a landslide victory over John Major in the 1997 UK general election.

First term 1997 to 2001

Blair embraces like-minded U.S. President Bill Clinton, a fellow leader of the "Third Way" in politics.
Independence for the Bank of England
Immediately after taking office, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown gave the Bank of England the power to set the base rate of interest autonomously. The traditional tendency of governments to manipulate interest rates around General Elections for political gain is thought to have been deleterious to the UK economy and helped reinforce a cyclical pattern of boom and bust, for which Blair frequently criticised previous governments. The decision was popular with the City, which the Labour Party had been courting since the early 1990s. Together with the government's avowed determination to remain within projected Conservative spending limits for the first two years of its period of office, it helped to reassure sceptics of the Labour Party's new-found fiscal "prudence". Brown, who had his own following within the Labour Party, is a powerful and independent Chancellor who was given exceptional freedom to act by Blair, although later reports by Downing Street insiders have said that Blair grew to regret this as he was cut out of important fiscal decisions.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions. To the right is Chancellor Gordon BrownBlair has encouraged reforms to Parliamentary procedures. One of his first acts as Prime Minister was to replace the two weekly 15-minute sessions of Prime Minister's Questions, held on a Tuesday and Thursday, with a single 30-minute session on a Wednesday. This reform was said to be more efficient, but critics point out that it is easier to prepare for one long set of questions than two shorter interrogations. There has been a perception that Blair has avoided attending debates and voting in Parliament, although his vote has seldom been needed given Labour's large majorities in the House of Commons. (Labour Party objections to aspects of recent anti-terror and education legislation mean that every vote now matters [12]). In another reform, the Blair government introduced rules governing the sitting time of parliament, ostensibly to make it more businesslike, though arguably reducing MPs' ability to scrutinise legislation effectively. Another innovation has been the monthly press conference at which Blair, less formally or confrontationally than in the Commons, addresses questions [13] [14]. He is seen to be an effective Parliamentary performer, often besting some of the more short-lived recent leaders of other parties. The Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties have each elected new leaders in 2006 [15]; an ability to match Blair or his likely successor has been a key factor in these selections [16], though much of the public perception of Blair has been as a performer on TV, where he has appeared modern, informal and articulate and, notably, seemed to capture the mood of the country when Diana, Princess of Wales died. He feels more embattled since the Iraq war. For a 2006 TV audience, he recalled Labour's 1997 election victory: "People used to like me then," he remarked wistfully. [17]

Further reforms include the prominence given to the Prime Minister's Press Secretary, who became known as the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (though the current PMOS is not the press secretary). This role was filled by Alastair Campbell from May 1997 to 8 June 2001. Campbell had been an important cog in the New Labour election machine for the 1997 general election, working with Peter Mandelson to co-ordinate Labour's campaign. In the early years of his first term, Blair relied for his political advice on a close circle of his own staff, amongst whom Campbell was seen as particularly influential: he was given the authority to direct civil servants, who previously had taken instructions only from ministers. Unlike some of his predecessors, Campbell was a political appointment and had not come through the Civil Service. Despite his overtly political role, he was paid from the public purse as a member of the civil service, in one of Blair's earliest moves feared liable to change the traditional political neutrality of the civil service. Campbell was replaced by Godric Smith and Tom Kelly when he moved to become the Prime Minister's Director of Communications and Strategy immediately after Blair's election success on 7 June 2001. Campbell resigned on 29 August 2003, following the Hutton report into the death of Dr David Kelly.

A significant achievement of Blair's first term was the completion of negotiations of the Belfast Agreement, commonly called the Good Friday Agreement, in which the British and Irish Governments and most Northern Irish political parties established an "exclusively peaceful and democratic" framework for power-sharing in Northern Ireland. Negotiations had begun under the previous Prime Minister, John Major but collapsed after the end of the IRA ceasefire. The agreement was finally signed on 10 April 1998, and on 26 November 1998 Blair became the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to address the Republic of Ireland's parliament.

Blair's first term saw an extensive programme of constitutional alteration. A Human Rights Act was introduced in 1998; a Welsh Assembly and a Scottish Parliament were both set up; most hereditary peers were removed from the House of Lords in 1999; the Greater London Authority was established in 2000; and the Freedom of Information Act was passed later that year, with its provisions coming into effect over the next decade. This latter proposal disappointed campaigners whose hopes had been raised by a White Paper of 1998 which promised a more robust Act. No significant progress has been made in reforming the House of Lords since 1999: the debate remains open whether the reformed chamber should be fully elected, fully appointed, or part elected and part appointed.

In the 2001 UK general election, Blair campaigned on improvements to public services, including the National Health Service, based on private finance projects. The Conservatives largely ignored the issue of public services in favour of opposing British membership of Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, which proved to do little to win over floating voters: the Labour Party preserved its majority, and Blair became the first Labour Prime Minister to win a full second term. However the election was notable for a large fall in voter turnout. The leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague, resigned the following morning.

Blair has supported gay rights more then any previous British Prime Minister. Under his Labour Government, the age of consent was equalized, civil unions for gay couples were enacted and the ban on gays in the British armed forces was lifted.

Foreign policy
In 1999, Blair designed and presided over the declaration of the Kosovo War. The Labour Party in opposition had criticised the Conservative government for weakness over Bosnia, and Blair was one of those urging a strong line by NATO against Slobodan Miloševic. However, some Western strategists and journalists, for example Yossef Bodansky and Justin Raimondo, contend that the Serbian community were fighting legitimate wars of self-defence against an Islamist-connected government in Bosnia, and the military wing of the Albanian mafia, the KLA, in Kosovo. Blair persuaded the US Clinton administration to support the use of ground troops should aerial bombardment fail to win the war, although in the event they were not needed. His speech setting out the Blair Doctrine of the International Community was made one month into the war, in Chicago on 22 April 1999 ([18]). The same year he was awarded the Charlemagne Award by the German city of Aachen, for his contributions to the European idea and to European peace.

Second term 2001 to 2005
Blair welcomes President George W. Bush to Chequers, the Prime Minister's countryside retreat.Following the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, Blair was very quick to align the UK with the US, engaging in a round of shuttle diplomacy to help form and maintain a coalition prior to their attack on Afghanistan (in which British troops participated). He maintains this role to this day, showing a willingness to visit countries on diplomatic missions that other world leaders might consider too dangerous to visit. In 2003 he became the first Briton since Winston Churchill to be awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress for being "a staunch and steadfast ally of the United States of America" [19] although media attention has been drawn to the fact that Blair has yet to attend the ceremony to receive his medal; some commentators point to the unpopularity of support for the US as explaining the delay. In 2003, Blair was also awarded an Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his support of the United States after 9/11 - the first non-American to be so honoured [20].

Iraq war
Blair gave strong support to U.S. President George W. Bush's war in Iraq in 2003. Blair soon became the face of international support for the war, often clashing with French President Jacques Chirac, who became the face of international opposition. Regarded by many as a more persuasive orator than Bush, Blair gave many speeches arguing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in the days leading up to war.

Blair made a case for war against Saddam based on Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction and breach of UN resolutions, but was wary of making a direct appeal for regime change as international law does not recognize that as a legal ground for invasion. A memorandum from a July 2002 meeting that was leaked in April 2005 to The Sunday Times showed that Blair believed that the British public would support regime change in the right political context; however the memo states that legal grounds for such action were weak. On Tuesday 24 September 2002 Downing Street published a dossier based on intelligence agencies' assessments of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Among the items in the dossier was a recently received intelligence report that "the Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so". (A briefing paper in February 2003 entitled 'Iraq - its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation' was also issued to journalists; this document was discovered to have taken a large part of its text without attribution from a PhD thesis available on the World Wide Web. Where the thesis hypothesized about possible WMD, the Downing Street version presented the ideas as fact and it was thus subsequently referred to as the 'Dodgy Dossier').

Forty-six thousand British troops, one-third of the total strength of the UK army (land forces), were deployed to assist with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. When after the war it was established that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction, Blair's pre-war statements became a major domestic controversy. Many members of the Labour Party, not only those who were opposed to the Iraq war, were among those critical; among opponents of the war, accusations that Blair had deliberately exaggerated the threat were made. Successive inquiries (including those by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons, Lord Hutton, and Lord Butler of Brockwell) have found that Blair honestly stated what he believed to be true at the time. These findings have not prevented frequent accusations that Blair lied, most notably during the 2005 election campaign from Conservative leader Michael Howard.

Blair shakes hands with President Bush on 28 June 2004, on the day Iyad Allawi became Interim Prime Minister of IraqSeveral anti-war pressure groups want to try Blair for war crimes in Iraq at the International Criminal Court. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, stated in September 2004 that the invasion was "illegal" but did not state the legal basis for this accusation. This assertion by Kofi Annan conflicts with the opinion of the British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith that the war was legal.

United Kingdom armed forces were active in southern Iraq to stabilise the country in the run-up to the elections of January 2005. In October 2004 the UK government agreed to a request from US forces to send a battalion of the Black Watch regiment to the American sector to free up US troops for an assault on Fallujah. At present, British forces remain in Iraq. After the US election, Blair tried to use his relationship with President Bush to bring pressure on the US administration on Israel and Palestine. He has supported the Israeli government's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

On 1 May 2005, The Sunday Times printed a leaked 'Downing Street memo', which appeared to be the minutes of a discussion of Iraq held in July 2002. The memo created a stir particularly among critics of the war by stating "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action ... But the case was thin." In the following weeks, Blair was compelled to repeatedly reiterate his rationale for taking the UK to war, the basic tenets of which he has steadfastly maintained to this day.

In an interview with Michael Parkinson broadcast on ITV1 on 4 March 2006, Blair (the first serving Prime Minister to appear on the chatshow programme) referred to the influence of his Christian faith on 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 [21]: "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."

Domestic politics
After fighting the 2001 election on the theme of improving public services, Blair's government continued to raise taxes in 2002 (described by opponents as "stealth taxes") to increase spending on education and health. Blair insisted that the increased funding must be matched by internal reforms. The government introduced the Foundation Hospitals scheme to allow local NHS hospitals financial freedom, although the eventual shape of the proposals, after an internal struggle with Gordon Brown, allowed somewhat less freedom than Blair would have liked. Many such trusts established under this scheme are now in severe financial difficulties, having spent large parts of funding increases on pay rises for staff and expensive drugs. As a result, with supply increasing less quickly than demand, benefits from the NHS have not increased to the same degree, and the NHS is in deficit for 2005-6 to the tune of about £800 million.

The peace process in Northern Ireland hit a series of problems and on 15 October 2002 the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended and direct rule returned; attempts to get the Provisional Irish Republican Army to decommission its weapons were unsuccessful and in the second set of elections to the Assembly in November 2003 the Ulster Unionists lost the battle for largest Unionist party to the Democratic Unionists of Ian Paisley, making restarting devolution more difficult. At the same time Sinn Féin became the largest nationalist party.

In its first term, the government had introduced an annual fixed tuition fee of around £1,000 for higher education students (rejecting requests from universities to be allowed to vary the fee), and replaced the remaining student grant with a loan to be repaid once the student was earning over a certain threshold. Despite an explicit manifesto pledge in 2001 not to introduce variable (or "top-up") tuition fees in universities, Blair controversially announced that exactly such a scheme would indeed eventually be brought in with the maximum fee limited to £3,000 per year, while simultaneously delaying the repayment of student loans until the graduate's income was much higher and reintroducing some grants for students from poorer backgrounds.

On 1 August 2003, Blair became the longest continuously serving Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, surpassing Harold Wilson's 1964–1970 term. However, because of the crisis over the suicide of Dr David Kelly, a government scientist who had spoken to a BBC journalist precipitating a major public conflict between the BBC and the government, there were no celebrations. Lord Falconer set up an inquiry under the senior Law Lord Lord Hutton.

The second reading vote on the Higher Education Bill bringing in top-up fees was held on 27 January 2004, and saw the government scrape by with a majority of five, due to a massive backbench Labour rebellion. A first House of Commons defeat had been possible but averted when a small number of Gordon Brown's backbench allies switched sides at the last minute. The next day the Hutton Inquiry reported on the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly. The Inquiry was widely expected to criticise Blair and his government. In the event, Hutton absolved Blair and his government of deliberately inserting false intelligence into its dossier, but criticised the BBC editorial process which had allowed unfounded allegations to be broadcast. The report did not satisfy opponents of Blair and of the Iraq war, leading to accusations of a 'whitewash'.

In April 2004, Blair announced that a referendum would be held on the ratification of the EU Constitution. This represented a significant change in British politics, where only one nationwide referendum had been held, in 1975, on whether the UK should remain in the EEC. It was another dramatic U-turn for Blair, who had previously dismissed calls for a referendum unless the constitution fundamentally altered the UK's relationship with the EU; Michael Howard eagerly seized on the "EU-turn", reminding Blair of his 2003 conference oration that "I can only go one way. I haven't got a reverse gear". The referendum was expected to be held in early 2006; however since the French and Dutch rejections of the treaty, the Blair government has announced that it is putting plans for a referendum on hold for the foreseeable future.

During his second term Blair was increasingly the target for protests. On 19 May 2004, he was hit by two condoms filled with purple flour in the House of Commons, thrown by Fathers 4 Justice. His speech to the 2004 Labour Party conference was interrupted both by a protester against the Iraq war and by a group that opposed the government's decision to allow the House of Commons to ban fox hunting.

On 15 September 2004, Blair delivered a speech on the environment and the 'urgent issue' of climate change. In unusually direct language he concluded that If what the science tells us about climate change is correct, then unabated it will result in catastrophic consequences for our world... The science, almost certainly, is correct. The action he proposed to take appeared to be based on business and investment rather than any tax or legislative attempts to reduce CO2 emissions: is possible to combine reducing emissions with economic growth... investment in science and technology and in the businesses associated with it... The G8 next year, and the EU presidency provide a great opportunity to push this debate to a new and better level that, after the discord over Kyoto, offers the prospect of agreement and action. [22].

Attempted impeachment
On 25 August 2004, Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price announced that he would attempt to impeach Blair [23]. The measure was supported by Plaid Cymru and the SNP, as well as by RESPECT's George Galloway and Independent MP Richard Taylor. Ten Tory MPs signed it, as did four SNP MPs and two Liberals for a total of 23 MPs. The campaign has attracted the support of writers Iain Banks and Frederick Forsyth, and actor Corin Redgrave.

In January 2006, General Sir Michael Rose (the former UN commander in Bosnia) joined calls to make Blair accountable: "To go to war on what turns out to be false grounds is something that no one should be allowed to walk away from" [24].

No impeachment has been attempted for 150 years, and no impeachment resolution has been passed since 1806; the last two impeachment trials resulted in acquittals. Many legal authorities consider impeachment to be obsolete (see, e.g., Halsbury).

The case for Blair's impeachment was outlined by Adam Price MP in a report entitled "A case to answer" [25].

Health problems
On 19 October 2003, it emerged that Blair had received treatment for an irregular heartbeat. Having felt ill the previous day, he went to hospital [26] and was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia. Blair has been recovering well though. This was treated by cardioversion and he returned home that night. He took the following day (20 October) a little more gently than usual and returned to a full schedule on 21 October. Downing Street aides later suggested that the palpitations had been brought on by Blair drinking lots of strong coffee at an EU summit and then working out vigorously in the gym. However, former Armed Forces minister Lewis Moonie, a doctor, said that the treatment was more serious than Number 10 had admitted: "Anaesthetising somebody and giving their heart electric shocks is not something you just do in the routine run of medical practice", he claimed.

Family problems in the spring of 2004 fuelled speculation that Blair was on the brink of stepping down. In September 2004 off-the-cuff remarks Lord Bragg in an interview with ITV news, said that Blair was "under colossal strain" over "considerations of his family" and that Blair had thought "things over very carefully." This led to a surge in speculation that Blair would resign. Although details of the family problem were known by the press, no paper would report them because to do so "breaches the bounds of privacy and media responsibility" as they did not relate to Mr Blair himself [27].

Blair underwent a catheter ablation to correct his irregular heartbeat on 1 October 2004, having announced the procedure the day before in a series of interviews in which he also declared that he would seek a third term but not a fourth. The planned procedure was carried out at London's Hammersmith hospital. At the same time it was disclosed that the Blairs had purchased a house at 29 Connaught Square, London, for a reported £3.5 million.[28] Some have speculated that part of No.29 is to be converted into offices for a future Blair Foundation. The purchase also fuelled speculation that Blair was preparing for life after government.

On 19 May 2005 (a fortnight after polling day in the 2005 general election), Blair was treated with an anti-inflammatory drug to control a slipped disc, which had caused him back pain.

Third term 2005 to present
The Labour Party won the 2005 General Election and a third consecutive term in office. The next day, Blair was invited to form a Government by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The reduction in the Labour majority (from 167 to 66) and the low share of the popular vote (35%) led to some Labour MPs calling for Blair to leave office sooner rather than later; among them Frank Dobson who had served in Blair's Cabinet during his first term. However, dissenting voices quickly vanished as Blair in June 2005 took on European leaders over the future direction of the European Union.

G8 and EU presidencies
Tony Blair accepting the presidency of the European Union on 1 JulyThe rejection by France and the Netherlands of the treaty to establish a constitution for the European Union presented Blair with an opportunity to postpone the doubtful UK referendum on the constitution without taking the blame for failing from the EU. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that the Parliamentary Bill to enact a referendum was suspended indefinitely. It had previously been agreed that ratification would continue unless the treaty had been rejected by at least five of the 25 European Union member states who must all ratify it. In an address to the European Parliament, Blair stated: "I believe in Europe as a political project. I believe in Europe with a strong and caring social dimension." [29]

Chirac held several meetings with Schröder and the pair pressed for the UK to give up its rebate, famously won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984. After verbal conflict over several weeks, Blair, along with the leaders of all 25 member states, descended on Brussels for the EU Summit of the 18 June 2005 to attempt to finalise the EU budget for 2007-2013. Blair refused to renegotiate the rebate unless the proposals included a compensating overhaul of EU spending, particularly on the Common Agricultural Policy which composes 44% of the EU budget. After intense arguments inside closed doors, talks broke down late at night and the leaders emerged, all blaming each other. It is widely accepted that Blair came out on top, making allies in the Netherlands and Sweden and potentially (and crucially) several of the Eastern European accession countries.

It fell to Blair to broker a deal on the EU budget during the UK's Presidency of the European Union during the latter half of 2005. Early international opinion, particularly in the French press, suggested that Blair held a very strong opening position partly on account of the concurrence of British presidencies of the EU and G8. However, early in the UK's six-month term the 7 July London bombings distracted political attention from the EU despite some ambitious early [30]statements about Blair's agenda. Domestically Blair faced further distractions from European affairs including a resurgent Conservative Party under its newly-elected leader David Cameron, and assessments of the British presidency's achievements under Blair have been [31]lukewarm in spite of some diplomatic success including a last-minute budget deal. The most controversial result was an agreement to increase British contributions to the EU development budget for new member countries, which effectively reduced the UK rebate by 20%.

On 21 July 2005, a second series of explosions were reported in London, two weeks and some hours after the 7 July 2005 London bombings. Four controlled explosions, of devices considerably less advanced than those of the previous attacks, were carried out at Shepherd's Bush, Warren Street and Oval underground stations, and on a bus in Shoreditch. Even though the attacks on the 21st were less severe than those on the 7th, Blair was reported to have said that the bombings in London today were intended "to scare people and to frighten them, to make them anxious and worried". He went on to say how the "police have done their very best, and the security services too, in the situation, and I think we have just got to react calmly and continue with our business as much as possible normal".

Concerns about terror attacks led to 10 Downing Street requesting media organizations not to identify the location of Blair's 2005 summer holiday. After Blair attended a public function it was acknowledged that the holiday was in Barbados, as a guest of the singer Cliff Richard with whom Blair has stayed before.

A Guardian/ICM poll conducted after the first wave of attacks found that 64% of the British population believed that Blair's decision to wage war in Iraq had led indirectly to the terrorist attacks on London. [34] The public did however indicate approval of Blair's handling of the attacks, with his approval rating moving into positive territory for the first time in five years. [35]. In December 2005, the Prime Minister was presented with the "Statesman of the Decade" award by the EastWest Institute [36], a trans-Atlantic think tank that organizes an annual Security Conference in Brussels [37].

Proposed laws to cope with the threat of terrorism proved extremely controversial; an amendment to require that glorifying terrorism be deliberate in order to be an offence was rejected in the House of Commons by just three votes (a result initially announced as a one-vote margin, due to a miscount). The proposal to allow terrorist suspects to be held for questioning for up to 90 days was defeated on 9 November by a margin of 31 [38] with 49 Labour MPs voting against the government. Instead, MPs supported an amendment to allow questioning for 28 days proposed by veteran backbencher David Winnick. This was Blair's first defeat on the floor of the House of Commons since he became Prime Minister in 1997, and most commentators saw this as seriously undermining his authority [39].

After Labour's 2004 conference, Blair announced via a BBC interview [40] that he would not fight a fourth general election, an unusual announcement in the UK, as there is no limit on the time someone may serve as Prime Minister. He also announced he would like to serve a "full third term".

In the months following the election, there was frequent speculation over the anticipated date of his departure. The Westminster consensus expected him to go after the proposed UK referendum on the European Union Constitution, but its collapse eliminated this juncture. The July 2005 terror attacks also appear to have strengthened his position. But while bookmakers take bets on his staying, [41] Blair's election agent John Burton said [42] that he will quit the House of Commons at the next election. The official line from the Downing Street press office on this was that it was the "last thing on [Blair's] mind," but there has been no firm denial.

Speculation as to the likely time of Blair's departure and his likely replacement as leader of the Labour party by Gordon Brown, increased in May 2006, following Labour's bad results in UK local council elections. Such speculation is repeatedly raised in the press and political circles when any mishap occurs to the government. The case of private loans to the Labour party apparently known to few people other than Blair himself[citation needed], and the number of such benefactors who have been proposed as candidates to become members of the House of Lords, drew comment on his suitability to hold the post. He has said he will give'ample time' for his successor to establish himself before the next general election. His successor is widely expected to be Gordon Brown the current Chancellor (UK finance minister).

If he remains in office until 26 November 2008, Blair will break Margaret Thatcher's record for longest continuous service as Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool, 1812-27.

Blair has said that after stepping down as Prime Minister, he plans to leave front-line politics and does not intend to take a seat in the House of Lords, commenting that it is, "...not my scene". [43]

There have been a number of rumours, in the British press, that Blair will run for the position of United Nations Secretary-General when Kofi Annan steps down on 31 December 2006. [44]

While the terms 'spin' and 'Spin Doctor' came into widespread use in UK politics as early as the late 1980s, it has been an especially prominent element of criticisms of the Blair government. 'Spin' means to selectively present news in a way which minimizes the political damage, and emphasises any positive aspects. A widely-levelled criticism of Blair and his government is that they make excessive use of spin to such an extent that government statements, even if entirely true, are now disbelieved; it is also said that the government has on occasions crossed the line between selective presentation of information and deliberate misleading.

The most widely-publicised example concerned Blair's appeal for trust over the danger from Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, which led to British participation in the invasion of Iraq. One 'intelligence dossier' later distributed on behalf of Blair [45] was substantially plagiarised from an academic thesis available on the internet [46], with some phrases altered to make them sound more threatening. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein's government, and Blair was later forced to concede that they had not existed [47][48]. A consequence of the lead-up to the second Gulf War is the belief that Blair compromised his credibility; however, defenders of Blair point to the fact that he was publishing to the public what he had been told in private and honestly believed at the time - even if such a belief was wrong.

Other complaints involved the front page speculation of various newspapers that the '45 minutes' claim might refer to ballistic missiles which could reach Cyprus. It was later revealed that it referred to battlefield munitions which could only be a threat to an invading force, but the government did not correct the misapprehension; the lack of action was referred to as 'spin by omission'.

Blair had made himself a leading candidate for the Labour leadership by his actions as Shadow Home Secretary in turning around Labour's image as "soft on crime". Support for the police and increasing their powers has been characteristic of the Labour Party under his leadership. While initially these moves attracted a consensus, the government's legislative reaction to the September 11 attacks has been regarded by some as authoritarian. Even before the attacks, the Terrorism Act 2000 forced disclosure of information believed to be of assistance in preventing a terrorist act, or apprehending those involved in such acts [49].

The 2000 Act gave the police additional powers against a wide range of activities, with reported instances of the Act being used against peaceful protestors (including an 11-year-old girl at a Peace camp outside an RAF base [50]). After September 11, the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was passed, allowing foreign nationals to be detained without charge for an indefinite period (subject to appeal to a special tribunal) if they were suspected international terrorists but had committed no offence under United Kingdom law. This provision was later struck down as incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. At the 2005 Labour Party conference, the 82-year-old veteran pacifist Walter Wolfgang was forcibly removed from the conference hall aftershouting "nonsense" as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Iraq policy. When he attempted to return without his conference pass, Wolfgang was briefly detained for questioning under section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

Later in 2005, Blair gave personal strong backing to proposals to allow terrorism suspects to be held for questioning for up to 90 days, and dissuaded other Ministers from offering a compromise which might prove more acceptable; the insistence resulted in the first defeat of the Blair Government on the floor of the House of Commons in November 2005.

The flagship anti-crime policy introduced in Blair's first term, Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), have been criticised as excessively punitive and as a way of criminalising non-criminal conduct: an ASBO may be imposed preventing conduct which is entirely legal, but breach of the ASBO is a criminal offence. Examples are on record of ASBOs preventing their subjects from being sarcastic, using the word "grass", or attending a drug clinic which was treating them for their addiction. Opinion polls however show that ASBOs remain popular with the public leading some to suggest that criticism of them comes mainly from thechattering classes who do not regularly experience anti-social behaviour. It could be argued that Blair's crime policies are popular with the majority of the public for their populist, commonsense approach.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 has also been criticised for allowing too great a latitude for law enforcement agencies to intercept communications.

By May 2006 serious doubts were being raised Blair's "hard on crime" ploy when it was disclosed that an unspecified number (estimated in the thousands) of foreign criminals had been set free in Britain instead of being deported, whilst meanwhile the chaos in the Home Office was such that many law abiding citizens had been given criminal records.

Special relationship with the United States of America

George W. Bush and Tony Blair shake hands after their press conference in the East Room of the White House on November 12, 2004.Due to Blair's close co-operation with the USA on the war in Iraq, where the UK contributed by far the greatest degree of military support for the US-led invasion, he has been called "Bush's poodle". Blair has also been called "Governor of the 51st state", "Tony in the London office" and, by Nelson Mandela, "the US foreign minister" [51]. The alliance between the two men is somewhat upsetting to many supporters of his party, which traditionally allies itself with the Democrats. President Bush said "America has no truer friend than Great Britain" in his post-9/11 speech [52].

In July 2003, Blair became the first Briton since Winston Churchill to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, a honour awarded by Congress and considered the highest expression of appreciation by the American people [53]. This was a controversial honour in the UK, and as of August 2005, Blair had yet to collect the actual medal, [54] though he had already accepted the award [55].

The emphasis on the so-called special relationship with the USA is hardly unique to Blair. It has been a lynch-pin of British foreign policy since Churchill and Roosevelt collaborated closely during World War II. It has been axiomatic that, since then, British Prime Ministers have whatever limited impact they can have over US policy by arguing with their American counterparts only behind closed doors. Although Harold Wilson declined to send even token forces to Vietnam as President Johnson requested and the 1956 Anglo-French military intervention over the Suez Canal was aborted when Eisenhower indicated a lack of support for the policy underlying this adventure by European allies, British-American collaboration in foreign policy and the exchange of intelligence, bases and weapons has been argued to lend mutual respect to transatlantic relations. Blair does not reveal his thoughts about the Bush administration: he has described Guantanamo only as "an anomaly" and, pressed in a 4 March 2006 interview with Michael Parkinson [56], would say only that George Bush is someone whom he can work with because "he does what he says". In a February 2003 interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, Blair stated that he and Bush "don't pray together" [57] but vigorously defended his support for the removal of Saddam Hussein, who posed a "threat to the region". Both interviews revealed that faith plays a part in Blair's approach to decision-making. This is another shared feature of their special relationship. Whether it concerns or reassures voters seems to differ in the two countries. Blair's prompt appearance in Washington after the September 11, 2001 attacks seems to have played a part in establishing a mutual respect between the two leaders. But, ultimately, America went to war with the British government at its side. Critics argue that this provided the fig-leaf of an international coalition as well as the military logistics (which US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mistakenly claimed barely to need). In any case, much of the shared "intelligence", especially the so-called "dodgy dossier", has been shown to be deeply flawed [58].

A 2005 book by the former United Kingdom Ambassador to the USA, Sir Christopher Meyer, concurred with these criticisms implied by the epithets, accusing Blair of being a hawk and insufficiently cautious about the war [59] [60]. Meyer expressed his opinion that Blair could have stopped the war had he acted at an opportune time in the summer of 2002. This view has been criticised as naive: Simon Jenkins, for example, described it as a "folly of diplomatic grandeur" and asserted that Blair has no history of standing firm on anything. [61]. Citing the investigation by Vanity Fair magazine, (May 2004 issue), he continued: "Blair was helpless in the face of neocons. When he set conditions, they ridiculed them. Had Britain backed out after the failure of the second UN resolution, the White House would have lost no sleep..."

The Vanity Fair article (which Paul Wolfowitz claims includes partial and mis-quotes) reported that Sir Christopher Meyer was present when, a few days after 9/11, Bush asked Blair to support an attack on Hussein. Blair reportedly replied that he would rather concentrate on ousting the Taliban and restoring peace in Afghanistan. According to Sir Christopher, Bush replied: "I agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq." Mr Blair, Sir Christopher reports, "said nothing to demur".

Personal property dealings
The Blairs moved into Downing Street in 1997. Despite wanting to keep hold of their Islington home at Richmond Crescent, the cost and logistic difficulty of security measures forced its sale. The house, bought in 1993 for £375,000 [62], was sold for £615,000, significantly below the expected price of £800,000 for similar houses on the street; the subsequent London property boom meant that the property had more than doubled in value seven years later when it was resold for £1.3m, and it was valued at £1.75m in April 2006 [63].

In 2002, Cherie Blair masterminded the purchase of two new flats in Bristol, where Euan Blair was at university; one of them was for his use, and the other was a rental investment. The flats proved difficult to rent out and attracted some unwelcome publicity and political damage [64] when it was revealed that Cherie had engaged Peter Foster, a convicted fraudster, to negotiate the purchase price.

The Blairs paid a reported £3.6m in late 2004 for a house in Connaught Square, near Marble Arch. Finding a tenant for this also took a long time and they had to reduce the rent sought [65].

Criticisms by the left
While the Blair government has introduced some social policies seen by the left of the Labour Party as progressive, especially the minimum wage, on economic and management issues he is seen as being to the right of the party. The 2005 announcement of more independent Trust Schools [66], was likened to the Major government's Grant Maintained Schools policy which Labour criticised while in opposition, and was criticised by teachers' unions as well as by members of his own party.

The use of private finance to fund public projects has also been criticised by Labour left-wingers as both an economic bad deal and as privatising public service [67]. The Private Finance Initiative, under which public services are built by private companies and then leased back to the state, began under the Major government and was expanded significantly under Blair. Some critics describe Blair as a reconstructed Conservative or Thatcherite. Shortly before the general election of 2001 The Economist gave a front cover the headline, "Vote conservative" (note lower-case "c") - with a picture of Blair.

Private Eye cover speculating on a Gordon Brown leadership challenge
Blair has avoided the traditional pigeonholes of British political leaders. He has often (particularly after the invasion of Iraq) been labelled as insincere ("King of Spin", "Phoney Tony"), and has been accused of cronyism due to his perceived penchant for promoting his friends to top jobs. In his early years, Blair was often criticised as an unscrupulous opportunist who was solely interested in doing anything that would get him elected, that was a focus group politician. More recently, his unpopular policy supporting the US over Iraq has demonstrated a politician with more commitment to his own policies despite public opposition. His name has been deliberately mis-spelt 'Tony Bliar' (sometimes 'B. Liar') or 'Tory Blur' by critics of his actions and his policies (particularly his stance on Iraq). The Economist on 5 June 2003 devoted its front cover to a photograph of Blair and the headline, "Bliar?".

Since Blair became Prime Minister, Private Eye has run a regular feature called the St Albion Parish News based on the Blair government. In this series, the parish incumbent ('Rev. A.R.P. Blair MA (Oxon)') combines a relentless trendiness with a tendency to moralise and to exclude all those who criticise him. The series highlights Blair's perceived penchant for spin and his zealous enthusiasms in relation to recent political events.

In his first term of office, Blair was the subject of a satirical comic strip Dan Blair in The Times. This strip spoofed the comic book hero Dan Dare and his nemesis, the Mekon, who represented William Hague in the strip, portrayed with a very large forehead. He has also been parodied in the comic 2000 AD in the series B.L.A.I.R. 1 (a spoof of the old-fashioned strip M.A.C.H.1 written by David Bishop) where he acts as a futuristic crime fighter controlled by an artificial intelligence known as "Doctor Spin".

In opposition under John Smith, the ITV satirical puppet show Spitting Image depicted Blair within the Shadow Cabinet as a schoolboy with a high-pitched voice and bottle-green uniform, complete with cap. The first show after Smith's death featured Blair singing "I'm going to be the leader! I'm going to be the leader!" over and over. Once settled in as leader, the programme, which was in its last years, changed its caricature of Blair to have a small face with an outsized toothy grin. The show ended before Labour gained power.

Jamie Foxx portrayed a black Blair in a skit from Chappelle's Show. Foxx used a fake English accent and performed actions considered stereotypically English in America, such as drinking tea, although not especially associated with Blair.

Tony Blair traces his political birth to the year 1963 when the political hopes of his father died. Leo Blair suffered a stroke while running for Parliament for the Conservatives. Tony was just 10.

Prime Minister Tony Blair stands with his family, from left, son Nicholas, daughter Kathryn, son Leo, wife Cherie and son Euan, on the doorsteps of 10 Downing Street, London, June 8, 2001, following his election victory. (AP Photo/PA, Chris Ison)
"After his illness, my father transferred his ambitions onto his kids," Blair said in a 1994 interview with the Sunday Times Magazine.

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was born May 6, 1953, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Leo and Hazel Blair. His father was a law lecturer and Tony had a comfortable upbringing. He was educated at the elite Fettes College in Edinburgh before heading to Oxford for law school in 1972. At Oxford, Blair was known as an outgoing person who played bass guitar and sang for a rock band called Ugly Rumours.

In a 2003 newspaper interview, band mate Mark Ellen reveals that Blair is a fan of the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger.

"He was fantastically confident without any arrogance or swagger," said Ellen about Blair's performances, in an April 2003 piece in the Observer.

But Blair had another purpose in life. He graduated in 1975 and was called to the bar the following year, specializing in employment and commercial law. At the same time, he became involved with the Labour Party and met his future wife Cherie, a fellow lawyer. They married in 1980. They have four children: Euan, Nicky, Kathryn and Leo, who was born May 20, 2000.

Blair entered politics in 1983, winning a seat for Labour at the age of 30. Within two years, he was beginning to attract attention within the party. He was moving up the ranks from the backbenches to become a major treasury critic. By 1988, he was in the shadow cabinet – appointed shadow secretary of state for energy.

By 1992, Labour had lost four successive elections and was badly adrift. The Conservatives won each of those elections with a majority. Labour was in need of a facelift.

Neil Kinnock resigned the party's leadership after the 1992 drubbing and was replaced by John Smith. He made Tony Blair the party's shadow home secretary.

For the first time in years, the Conservatives under John Major seemed to be vulnerable. Smith had worked to unify Labour's left and right wings and was widely seen as having a good chance to lead the party to victory in the next election.

But Smith died of a heart attack in 1994 and Labour had to choose a new leader. It was Tony Blair. In a landslide.

Blair moved quickly to distance Labour from what many viewed as control by trade unions and left-wing factions. He declared that he got into politics not to be part of a protest movement but to govern. Labour shifted to the centre.

Blair's new Labour caught on with the voters, and in 1997 he led the party to its biggest electoral victory ever. John Major's Conservatives were humbled at the polls. Four years later, another Labour victory. It was the first time Labour had won back-to-back majority governments.

Blair succeeded in claiming the middle ground for Labour. But in 2001, voter turnout tumbled.

Blair's popularity suffered a setback in the years following the election. In September 2002, he unveiled intelligence reports that claimed Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction on 45 minutes' notice. He used them to argue for the overthrow of Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein.

Many in Britain resented his unflagging support of the United States in its decision to invade Iraq. Three cabinet ministers quit over Blair's Iraq policy. Britain sent 45,000 troops to support the American-led invasion.

As in the United States, the Blair government became embroiled in a controversy over whether it had deliberately exaggerated the danger posed by Iraq to boost public support for the war. That was the thrust of a BBC report that an inquiry later ruled unfounded.

But criticism of Britain's Iraq role continued. Blair named a panel to look into the state of the country's pre-war intelligence. In July 2004, the panel cleared Blair and his government of deliberate manipulation of the intelligence. But it found serious flaws in MI-6's intelligence. Blair said he took full responsibility for the mistakes.

Blair called an election in the spring of 2005 and won an unprecedented third majority (albeit with a reduced number of seats). His party won just 36 per cent of the popular vote – a record low for a winning party. Blair had said before the election that he would not lead Labour into a fourth election, but signalled that he wanted to stay around for a full third term.

Blair's response to the July 2005 extremist attacks on London's transit system bolstered public support for his leadership at the time. But several of Blair's attempts to bring in tough anti-terrorist laws were later defeated when many of his own MPs voted against them.

In March 2006, Blair was hit by what became to be known as the "loans for peerages" scandal. It turned out that some rich businesspeople who'd made large, secret loans to the Labour Party ended up in the House of Lords or were given knighthoods or other titles. Scotland Yard was called in to investigate whether illegal inducements had been offered. There were renewed calls for Blair to step down.

Blair denied wrongdoing but the affair damaged him badly. Some observers said it would be difficult for him to hang on to the leadership for long.

The Prime Minister Tony Charles Lynton Blair

Born: 6 May 1953

The son of a barrister and lecturer, Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh, but spent most of his childhood in Durham. At the age of 14 he returned to Edinburgh to finish his education at Fettes College. He studied law at Oxford, and went on to become a barrister himself.

After standing unsuccessfully for the Labour Party in a by-election, Mr Blair went on to win the seat of Sedgefield in the 1983 General Election, aged 30.

Tony Blair made a speedy rise through the ranks, being promoted first to the shadow Treasury front bench in 1984. He subsequently served as a trade and industry spokesman, before being elected to the Shadow Cabinet in 1988 where he was made Shadow Secretary of State for Energy. In 1989 he moved to the employment brief.

After the 1992 election Labour's new leader, John Smith, promoted Blair to Shadow Home Secretary. It was in this post that Mr Blair made famous his pledge that Labour would be tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.

John Smith died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1994, and in the subsequent leadership contest Tony Blair won a large majority of his party's support.

Blair immediately launched his campaign for the modernisation of the Labour Party, determined to complete the shift further towards the political centre which he saw as essential for victory. The debate over Clause 4 of the party's constitution was considered the crucial test of whether its members would commit to Mr Blair's project. He removed the commitment to public ownership, and at this time coined the term New Labour.

The Labour Party won the 1997 General Election by a landslide, after 18 years in Opposition. At the age of 43 , Tony Blair became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812.

The government began to implement a far-reaching programme of constitutional change, putting the question of devolution to referendums in Scotland and Wales.

An elected post of Mayor of London was established at the head of a new capital-wide authority, and all but 92 hereditary peers were removed from the House of Lords in the first stage of its reform. The government has also implemented an investment programme of £42 billion in its priority areas of health and education.

Tony Blair was re-elected with another landslide majority in the 2001 General Election.

His second term was dominated by foreign policy issues - notably the 'war on terror' which followed the September 11 attacks in New York, and the war in Iraq.

The Labour Party went on to win a third term for Mr Blair in May 2005, albeit with a reduced majority.

Outside Number 10 on the day after his victory, the PM said that 'respect' would play a big part in his third term agenda.

He said he wanted to bring back:

"A proper sense of respect in our schools, in our communities, in our towns and our villages."

Mr Blair is married to the barrister Cherie Booth QC, and they have four children. Their youngest, Leo, was the first child born to a serving Prime Minister in over 150 years.


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