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Biography

The Prime Minister Tony Charles Lynton Blair

Tony Blair at work on a train October 2005. Copyright: Guardian Newspapers1997 - Present

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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