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Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the 'New' Labour Party. Born Anthony Charles Lynton Blair on 6 May 1953 in Edinburgh to Leo Charles Lynton Blair and Hazel Blair.
Young Tony was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh and then St John's College, Oxford. At Oxford, Master Blair excelled in... singing. He was the lead singer and guitarist of a band called Ugly Rumours. How appropiate. He met Cherie Booth, daughter of actor Tony Booth, during his first year law apprenticeship and, before you know it (well, four years later), they were married. Before becoming a barrister (a member of Lincoln's Inn, if you're interested) in 1976, specialising in employment and industrial law, and just after graduating from Oxford, Tony worked as a bartender and insurance clerk in Paris1.
Blair's rise to power
Tony Blair's first step on the ladder of Parliament was, frankly, disappointing. After joing the Labour Party in 1975, he came third in May 1982 when running for Beaconsfield with just 10% of the vote. That didn't stop young Tony though. Thirteen short months later he won the newly created seat2 of Sedgefield. In 1984 he was appointed assistant spokesman for the Treasury and went on to become Deputy Spokesman for Trade and Industry in 1987 (his Official Biography on the Downing Street website, however, curiously omits to mention the latter post). He was finally elected to the Shadow Cabinet3 (as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy) in 1988, becoming Shadow Secretary of State for Employment in 1989. He was subsequently voted onto the National Executive Committee (the part of the Labour Party that makes all the important decisions) in September 1992. Following the election that year, he became Shadow Home Secretary4 and was elected to the Labour Party leadership in 1994, after the sad demise of John Smith, whilst the party were still in opposition.
Blair as Leader of the Labour Party
At 41, he was the youngest ever Labour Party Leader and this came across in his leadership style. Blair set out to modernise a party that had been in opposition for 15 years. He abolished those parts of the Labour constitution that called for nationalisation of all public services and shifted the party's focus from the left and more towards the centre (something now called centre-left). To show how much the party had changed, it was dubbed 'New Labour.' However, this isn't necessarily as bad a thing as some members of the British Press (such as The Daily Mail) would have the public believe.
Tony was helped in his quest to create a 'Cool Britannia' by two close chums - Alastair Campbell (a former journalist) and Peter Mandelson (a politician).
Blair as Prime Minister
Another triumph for Tony came when he was elected to power aged just 43, the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812. Blair's leadership of the country to date could be considered a success in many areas. The country is prosperous (relatively), unemployment is low and George Bush is still in the USA. However, people have accused Blair of being too 'Presidential' in his leadership style, with everything centralised to Whitehall and Blair having the final say on a lot of matters. Of course, this is only one opinion and it could be completely made up, but best to include it for balance.
In recent times Blair has stood 'shoulder to shoulder' with a Republican President whilst being a 'close personal friend' of a former Democratic President. He has also found the time to father a child, Leo, the first PM to do so in office since Lord John Russell in 18485.
And so we come to the present and the future. Who knows where he will lead the noble British?