Tony Blair

Aged 71

Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair KG (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1997, and had served in various shadow cabinet posts from 1987 to 1994. Blair was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007. He is the second longest serving prime minister in modern history after Margaret Thatcher, and is the longest serving Labour politician to have held the office. Blair attended the independent school Fettes College, and studied law at St John's College, Oxford, where he became a barrister. He became involved in Labour politics and was elected to the House of Commons in 1983 for the Sedgefield constituency in County Durham. As a backbencher, Blair supported moving the party to the political centre of British politics. He was appointed to Neil Kinnock's shadow cabinet in 1988 and was appointed shadow home secretary by John Smith in 1992. Following the death of Smith in 1994, Blair won the 1994 Labour Party leadership election to succeed him. His tenure as leader began with a historic rebranding of the party, who began to use the campaign label New Labour. The name dates from a conference slogan first used by the party in 1994, later seen in a draft manifesto which was published in 1996 and titled New Labour, New Life for Britain, and was presented as the brand of a newly reformed party. Blair was appointed prime minister after Labour won the 1997 general election, its largest landslide general election victory in history, becoming the youngest prime minister of the 20th century. During his first term, Blair enacted constitutional reforms, and significantly increased public spending on healthcare and education, while also introducing controversial market-based reforms in these areas. In addition, Blair saw the introduction of a minimum wage, tuition fees for higher education, constitutional reform such as devolution in Scotland and Wales and progress in the Northern Ireland peace process. On foreign policy, Blair oversaw British interventions in Kosovo in 1999 and Sierra Leone in 2000, which were generally perceived as successful. Blair won another landslide re-election in 2001. A decisive event that shaped his second term was the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, resulting in the start of the war on terror. Blair supported the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration by ensuring that the British Armed Forces participated in the War in Afghanistan, to overthrow the Taliban, destroy al-Qaeda, and capture Osama bin Laden. In 2003, Blair supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and had the British Armed Forces participate in the Iraq War, claiming that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs); no WMDs were ever found in Iraq. Blair was re-elected for a third term with another landslide in 2005, but with a substantially reduced majority. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars continued during his third term, and in 2006, Blair announced he would resign within a year. Blair resigned as Labour leader on 24 June 2007 and as prime minister on 27 June 2007, and was succeeded by Gordon Brown, his chancellor. After leaving office, Blair gave up his seat and was appointed Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, a diplomatic post which he held until 2015. He has been the executive chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change since 2016, and has made occasional political interventions. In 2009, Blair was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2021. At various points in his premiership, Blair was among both the most popular and unpopular prime ministers in UK history. He received the highest recorded approval ratings during his first few years in office, but also one of the lowest such ratings during the Iraq War. Blair had notable electoral successes and reforms, though his legacy remains controversial largely due to the Iraq War and his relationship with Bush. He is viewed as average in historical rankings and public opinion of British prime ministers.

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Commemorated on 3 plaques

Dunn Cow Inn. Prime Minister Charles Anthony Linton Blair whilst touring his constituency welcomed the President of the USA George W Bush Friday 21st November 2004 during a visit to the UK

Dun Cow Inn, 43 Front Street, Sedgefield, United Kingdom where they visited

Tony Blair named Diana the People's Princess here [full inscription unknown]

St Mary Magdalene Church, Sedgefield, United Kingdom where they visited

Tony Blair had his eyes tested here

Ripley's, Blackpool, United Kingdom where they had an eye test