Tony Blair

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Tony Blair (2012)

Anthony "Tony" Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6, 1953 in Edinburgh , Scotland ) is a British politician . He was Labor Party leader from 1994 to 2007 and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 .

Following the sudden death of John Smith , Blair became party chairman in July 1994. Under his leadership, Labor won the British general election in 1997 , ending the Conservative Party's 18-year reign . Blair's tenure became the longest of any ruling Labor Prime Minister, and he was the only one to lead his party to three consecutive elections. Together with Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson , Blair brought the Labor Party closer to the "political center" of British politics. He represented a policy of the free market and the demarcation from collectivism under the slogans "New Labor", "Modern Social Democracy" and " Third Way ". He rewrote Clause IV of the Labor Party's program, which originally called for the “ nationalization of key industries ”.

His domestic policy was characterized by an increase in public spending on health and education while at the same time introducing market-oriented reforms that met with early criticism. Blair's tenure also stands for the introduction of a minimum wage , school fees to improve education, constitutional changes such as the introduction of the Home Rule in Scotland and Wales, and progress in the peace process in Northern Ireland . The UK economy has been growing, with Blair taking a conservative approach not to raise income taxes.

Since the start of the fight against terrorism in 2001, Blair has been vehemently supporting US foreign policy, particularly through the participation of British troops in the operations in Afghanistan from 2001 and in Iraq from 2003 . With his almost unconditional support for the actions of the Bush administration, Blair found himself and his policies heavily criticized. So he had it about put up by the British press for his perceived by many as inappropriate obedience to the US president as a poodle's Bush , Bush's poodle to be reviled. On July 6, 2016, the Chilcot Commission's investigation report into the British role in the Iraq war was published in London , which suggests that Blair, despite warnings from top British lawyers, violated international law with the Iraq war and may have committed war crimes.

On September 7, 2006, Blair publicly announced that he would resign as party leader. In June 2007 he was appointed Special Envoy for the Middle East Quartet .


Origin and education

Blair was born in Edinburgh in Scotland, then a few years spent his early childhood in Adelaide ( Australia ), where his father law at the local university taught before the family in the late 1950s returned to the UK again. He then spent most of his youth in Durham, northern England . His father, Leo Blair, a lawyer , was a member of the Conservative Party . Leo Blair was running for the UK House of Commons but suffered a stroke when Tony was 11 years old.

Blair graduated from the prestigious Fettes College in Edinburgh with three A levels . He then studied law at St John's College , Oxford . In his spare time he played guitar and sang for a rock band called "Ugly Rumors" ( German: "Ugly Rumors"). After graduating in 1975, he began training as a barrister . Blair worked in France for a while and is fluent in French.


Tony Blair and Cherie Booth were married on March 29, 1980. The marriage had four children:

  • Euan Anthony Blair (born January 19, 1984)
  • Nicholas John Blair (called Nicky) (born December 6, 1985)
  • Kathryn Hazel Blair (born March 2, 1988)
  • Leo George Blair (born May 20, 2000)

Leo George Blair is best known for being the first prime minister to be born in office in 150 years.

Blair is the godfather of a daughter of the US media entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch .

Political career

Shortly after graduating from college in 1975, Tony Blair joined the Labor Party. In the early 1980s he was active in Hackney , a district in London, where he belonged to the “moderate left” who tried to take control of the party. However, his attempt to be a candidate for the Hackney Council failed. Through his father-in-law he came into contact with Tom Pendry , a member of the House of Commons, whom he asked for support for his political career. Pendry gave Blair as candidates for election to the lower house in the constituency Beaconsfield Although this is a safe constituency in 1982. Tories was and Blair only 10 percent of the vote reached, he was thus within the Labor Party and its leader Michael Foot known .

In 1983 Blair managed to be a candidate for Labor in a newly created constituency in Sedgefield . It was a safe constituency for Labor, and so Blair entered parliament despite his party's devastating defeat in the June 1983 general election.

Parliamentary opposition period

After entering parliament, Tony Blair began to climb steeply. In 1984 he was the party's deputy financial policy spokesman. He initiated an investigation into the Bank of England's takeover of the collapsed Johnson Matthey Bank and embarrassed the government when he tabled a European Community report, which had also been signed by a cabinet member, criticizing British economic policy.

Blair belonged to the reform wing of his party, which was led by party leader Neil Kinnock . After the general election in 1987 he joined the working group on trade and industry and became its spokesman for the city of London. He ran for the Labor shadow cabinet and received 71 votes from his parliamentary group, which was considered a good result for a young MP.

After the stock market crash of 1987 , Blair gained notoriety. He put himself in the limelight as a modernizer by protesting against the third-rate service for small investors on the London Stock Exchange . He became Minister of Energy in the Labor Shadow Cabinet in 1988 and Minister of Labor in the Shadow Cabinet the following year. He noticed that his party's support for the European Social Charter, which was under development, meant moving away from the so-called " closed shops ", the obligation by British employers to all of their employees to be members of the same union. When he announced this change in position in December 1989, it caused great anger among the left, but made political attacks on his party more difficult for the conservatives.

Because of his youthful charisma and telegenicism, Blair has been brought into the limelight by his party's PR officer, Peter Mandelson . His first big speech at the party congress in 1990 was a failure, however, when he spoke hastily and lost the thread of his manuscript. He worked to move his party more into the political center and thereby make it more eligible in the April 1992 elections .

After the 1992 election defeat by Premier John Major , party leader Neil Kinnock resigned. Under his successor, John Smith , Blair became Home Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet. He described his concept as "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" . The Labor Party previously had a rather poor image in this field. Tony Blair lamented a loss of public spirit, which he at least partially blamed on "liberalism of the 1960s" , advocated the equalization of the minimum age for same-sex sexual relations and was against the death penalty .

John Smith died unexpectedly after a heart attack in May 1994. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were promising candidates to succeed him. Although Brown, with his greater experience, was initially considered the more likely candidate, the polls showed significantly greater support for Blair, and Brown declined to run. On July 21, 1994 Blair prevailed in the election against John Prescott and Margaret Beckett and became the new party chairman. There are reports that he promised Gordon Brown that he would be his successor after a set time.

Party presidency

Blair began to reform the party consistently and replaced the party statutes of 1918. Noteworthy was the deletion of Clause IV, which provided that “the people should own the means of production” (earlier Labor governments derived the legitimacy of nationalization from this). This change was confirmed at a special party conference in 1995. Social reforms and an opening of the country to the European Union formed further key points of his policy. Blair used the term New Labor to delimit his Christian democratic convictions from what he believed to be outdated socialist ideas.

His reforms met with criticism from traditionalists on the left and were described as "superficial" by political opponents, but it gave his party a new public image. At the party congress in 1996, he named "education, education, education" as the priorities for a possible takeover of government. Supported by dissatisfaction with the conservative government of John Major, which was plagued by allegations of corruption and disputes over European policy , “New Labor” achieved a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. Tony Blair was sworn in on May 2, 1997 at the age of 43 as the youngest British Prime Minister since 1812.

He was also the first Prime Minister in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II , born during her reign.

First term 1997–2001

Immediately after taking office, the government, namely Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown , gave the Bank of England a free hand in setting key interest rates. Before that, the governments had often influenced interest rates, especially during election campaigns, which had negative consequences for the British economy . Blair installed Alastair Campbell, a press officer with unprecedented influence.

Diana Spencer died in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997 . Then there was a crisis of the monarchy; the mass media turned against the queen.

One of the greatest successes during his first term of office is the signing of the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998, which considerably defused the Northern Ireland conflict . Negotiations for an agreement had already begun under Blair's predecessor, John Major. On November 26, 1998, Blair became the first British Prime Minister ever to address the Irish Parliament .

There were also major constitutional reforms. A human rights catalog was introduced in 1998; regional parliaments were established in Wales and Scotland (see Scotland Act , National Assembly for Wales ), and hereditary titles of nobility no longer gave entitlement to entry into the House of Lords in most cases . In 2000, a new regional structure for Greater London was created and a Freedom of Information Act was passed.

In the Kosovo crisis in 1999 Blair played a leading role: After the Labor Party, the weakness of the Tory government during the Bosnian war had criticized Blair called for a clear action by NATO against Slobodan Milosevic . He convinced US President Clinton to deploy ground troops in Kosovo if necessary. In a speech in Chicago a month after the start of the war, he laid out the outline of a new doctrine for the international community. In the same year he received the International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen .

Elections and second term 2001–2005

Tony Blair and George W. Bush on November 12, 2004

In the 2001 election campaign leading up to the June 7, 2001 elections , Blair made improving public services, particularly UK health , a key issue. The Conservative Party tried to largely ignore the issue and above all criticized a possible British membership in the European Monetary Union . The Labor Party clearly won the election and Tony Blair became the first Labor prime minister to rule for a full second term. The Tories chairman, William Hague , resigned and was replaced by Iain Duncan Smith . Hague was the first Conservative party leader to never become prime minister.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , Blair uncompromisingly sided with the US and helped to form an international coalition for intervention in Afghanistan , in which British troops were involved.

From the beginning, Blair supported US President Bush's plans for a possible attack on Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein , thereby helping to split the EU on this issue. The war was fiercely controversial both internationally and at home. Blair's reasoning focused on the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had violated UN resolutions, since the overthrow of a dictatorship in international law is not a reason for war. Britain participated in the 2003 Iraq War with 46,000 soldiers, a third of the army's total strength . After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the troops were primarily stationed in southern Iraq. When the existence of weapons of mass destruction was not confirmed after the beginning of the war and the occupation of Iraq, Blair came under domestic political pressure. He was accused of having massively exaggerated the evidence of an Iraqi threat. The controversy continues to this day. In November 2007, after the end of his term in office, Blair stated in a BBC documentary that he expressly wanted war and that he had never tried to find a diplomatic solution in Iraq with US President Bush.

Domestically, after the election victory, Blair first tackled the fulfillment of his promises regarding public services. His government raised taxes to increase spending on education and health care. He tried to reform the structure of the health system and gave hospitals greater financial autonomy.

After the death of the arms expert and advisor to the British government, David Kelly, on July 17, 2003, calls for resignation from within and from the opposition became louder and louder. On January 29, 2004, Lord Justice Brian Hutton, in charge of the investigation into the circumstances of the death, published the final report of his work . There the question was also discussed whether Tony Blair gave the order to reveal the name of the bioweapons expert. Tony Blair and the public interpreted the final report as a complete discharge, while the BBC's Director General and Artistic Director immediately resigned.

In 2002 he justified in the House of Commons state support for schools in which creationism is presented as being equivalent to evolution , with the fact that this serves the diversity of the school system. In autumn 2003, Blair was diagnosed with arrhythmias. He had to undergo an operation a year later. There was also controversy over tuition fees . A law allowing increases put Blair on the verge of a loss in the House of Commons on January 27, 2004.

The prohibition of fox hunting , Blair dropped traditionalists to his country. In contrast to the uncompromising partnership with the United States in its military actions, Blair urged rapid action on climate protection and full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol . To this end, he also advocated the expansion of nuclear energy . Domestically, his government passed a civil partnership law for homosexual couples, which came into force in mid-December 2005. As of February 6, 2005, Blair was the longest-ruling Labor Prime Minister to date.

Elections and third term 2005–2007

Blair was re-elected in the general election on May 5, 2005 .

In the second half of 2005, Blair was chairman of the UK EU presidency. Here he campaigned for the adoption of the EU Africa Strategy. In 2006 and 2007, Blair campaigned for a renewal of the British nuclear weapons program, which could only be decided with the votes of the Tories due to opposition in its own ranks. (see UK Nuclear Deterrent Forces )

On Wednesday June 27, 2007, Blair resigned from the post of Prime Minister. His successor was the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who had also been elected Labor leader a few days earlier.

After the resignation

In June 2007 Tony Blair was named Special Envoy for the Middle East Quartet . In May 2015, he announced that he would leave this position in June 2015. Blair had come under increasing criticism because he pursued numerous private business interests in the Middle East. In 2014, on the occasion of his seven-year jubilee, a complaint had already been brought that the success of his work was approaching zero.

Tony Blair at a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem, June 2011

At the end of October 2007 it was announced that Blair would receive an advance payment of nine million US dollars from the publisher Random House for his memoirs , which he wanted to "write himself". In the same year a new novel by the English bestselling author Robert Harris was published , entitled " Ghost ", which describes, from the perspective of a ghostwriter, the genesis of the memoirs of a retired British Prime Minister who received an advance of ten million dollars from an American publisher for his life story. It is widely believed that this book contains a lot of similarities between the main character, Adam Lang, and the real-life Tony Blair. His wife and his most important colleague are also reflected in the corresponding people in the book.

In January 2008 it was announced that Tony Blair would work as a consultant for the American investment bank JP Morgan for an annual salary of £ 2 million .

In an interview, Blair complained that mass graves with hundreds of thousands of people had been found in Iraq after Saddam, but that this was barely acknowledged in the media.

Blair's foreign affairs advisor, Sir David Manning, testified to the Iraqi Committee of Inquiry that, eleven months before the start of the war in Iraq , Blair had assured George W. Bush that he would bring about regime change in Iraq through the use of military means if necessary. However, legal advisers had already pointed out to him at the time that a military operation with this aim was unlawful and violated the UN Charter . Tony Blair then openly admitted in an interview that he believed the attack on Iraq to be the right one, even without evidence of Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction. While the questioning of Alastair Campbell on the basis of the correspondence between Blair and Bush once again confirmed Blair's determination to go to war, a Dutch investigation has shown that the Netherlands had decided to participate in the war solely on the basis of the misleading material supplied by Great Britain and the USA and that this war violated international law.

On September 1, 2010, his memoir was published under the title A Journey . The German edition appeared on September 9th (title Mein Weg ). In 2014 Tony Blair took up a position as economic advisor to the Egyptian President.

After giving up his work as special envoy for the Middle East Quartet in June 2015, he was appointed chairman of the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation .

2015 admitted Blair against CNN one that the growth of the IS by him and George W. Bush led Iraq war had been contributed and apologized for the use of misleading intelligence information that led to the war, as well as that there are no plans for the time after the war. He refused an apology for the war itself and defended his support for the Americans in this war.

In February 2017, Blair called for peaceful resistance to Brexit at a meeting of the 'Open Britain' group .

Religious orientation

Blair was an Anglican until December 21, 2007 . Since then he has been a Roman Catholic, while his wife Cherie was also a Roman Catholic before - the children were and will be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. The works of the Scottish Christian philosopher John Macmurray are believed to have had a formative influence on Blair, who is considered the most religious prime minister since William Ewart Gladstone .

In a BBC documentary in November 2007, Blair announced that his belief in God had influenced important decisions during his tenure; it was also announced that Blair wanted to convert to the Roman Catholic faith . On December 21, 2007, he was inducted into the fellowship of the Roman Catholic Church during a Holy Mass in the chapel in the home of the Archbishop of Westminster in London. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor announced that Tony Blair had completed a preparatory program for Church acceptance in recent months. For reasons of state, he waited to convert, although he had received Holy Communion from Pope John Paul II in Rome in 2003 during an audience of the Pope .

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is planning a "faith offensive" in the United States over the next few years with substantial funding and support from Rick Warren . Blair's other foundations are the Tony Blair Sports Foundation, established on November 14, 2007, which promotes youth sport, especially in north-east England, and the Tony Blair African Governance Initiative, which aims to support investments in Africa.

Film adaptations

The film The Ghostwriter , based on a template by Robert Harris , shows unmistakable parallels to Blair's foreign and security policy. The focus of the film is a British Prime Minister, whose decisions have been influenced by the CIA.


  • Jim Buller: New Labor's Foreign and Defense Policy: External Support Structures and Domestic Politics, in: Steven Ludlam and Martin J. Smith (eds.), New Labor in Government, New York 2001, pp. 219-233.
  • Keith Dixon: A worthy legacy. Anthony Blair and Thatcherism. UVK Konstanz, 2000: ISBN 3-87940-716-9
  • Merten Haring: Constitutional Change in Great Britain - From Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair . Osnabrück: Koentopp, 2006. ISBN 978-3-938342-06-0
  • Steve Marsh: Blair, Britain and the Anglo-American Special Relationship, in: Merle Tönnies (ed.), Britain under Blair (English & English lessons 65), Heidelberg 2003, pp. 49-74.
  • Gerd Mischler: Tony Blair. Reformer, prime minister, religious warrior. Parthas Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-86601-520-8 .
  • Anthony Seldon, Dennis Kavanagh (eds.), The Blair effect, 2001-2005, Cambridge 2007.
  • Christian Thode, The Legacy of Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997–2007), in: Hard Times 82 (Fall 2007), pp. 2-7.
  • Tom Bower : Broken Vows - Tony Blair: The Tragedy of Power . Faber, 2016 ISBN 978-0-571-31420-1 (first in Daily Mail ).

Web links

Commons : Tony Blair  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Tagesschau: "Blair gave marching orders despite clear warnings" , accessed on July 6, 2016
  2. ^ A b Brian Wheeler: The Tony Blair story. BBC News, May 10, 2007, accessed February 23, 2016 .
  3. ^ Brexit, Europe et menace terroriste: Tony Blair répond aux questions de Jean-Pierre Elkabbach., January 26, 2016, accessed on February 23, 2016 (French, interview with Tony Blair on Europe1).
  4. Tina Kaiser: Affair with Blair. Murdoch talks about his ex-wife's diary entries . In: Welt Online, April 17, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  5. Tony Blair: My Way. , C. Bertelsmann, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-570-10071-4 , p. 139 ff.
  6. The Blair Doctrine
  7. "I wanted war, it was the right thing" in: Spiegel Online , 17. November 2007
  8. What a creation ... in: The Guardian , January 15, 2005 (English)
  9. Philipp Gieg: Great game about Africa? Europe, China and the USA on the black continent. Baden-Baden 2010, p. 105.
  10. ^ Trident plan wins Commons support , BBC News. March 15, 2007. 
  11. Tony Blair resigns as Middle East peace envoy in: The Guardian , May 27, 2015, accessed May 28, 2015
  12. "MEMOIRS - Nine Million Dollar Advance for Blair" , Spiegel Online , October 26, 2007
  13. ^ "Tony Blair joins investment bank" on: BBC , January 10, 2008
  14. Tony Blair and JP Morgan dealt with Gaddafi and Rusal , Russia Update , September 26, 2011
  15. Interview with Northern Echo
  16. Richard Norton-Taylor: Iraq inquiry: Blair told Bush he was willing to join, 11 months before war. in: The Guardian, November 30, 2009.
  17. Riazat Butt, Richard Norton-Taylor: Tony Blair admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway. in: The Guardian, December 12, 2009.
  18. ^ Richard Norton-Taylor, Afua Hirsch : Illegal, inevitable - Chilcot inquiry casts new doubts on Iraq war. in: The Guardian, January 12, 2010.
  19. ^ "Memoirs of the ex-premier: Blair reckons with archenemy Brown" on: Spiegel Online, September 1, 2010
  20. ^ "Meet Egyptian president's new economics adviser - Tony Blair" on: Russia Today , July 2, 2014
  21. Tony Blair appointed as head of European body fighting antisemitism in: The Guardian, June 4, 2015, accessed June 4, 2015
  22. Nicholas Watt [Tony Blair makes qualified apology for Iraq war ahead of Chilcot report] in: The Guardian , October 25, 2015, accessed October 26, 2015
  23. Tony Blair apologises for 'mistakes' over Iraq War and admits 'elements of truth' to view that invasion helped rise of Isis in: The Independent , October 25, 2015, accessed October 26, 2015
  24. Tony Blair calls for resistance to Brexit
  25. "Tony Blair Reads the Bible Before Going to Sleep, " Spiegel Online, November 25, 2007
  26. Britain's ex-prime minister Blair is now a Catholic in Die Welt , December 22, 2007
  27. Zenit: Tony Blair: The voice of faith cannot be missing.
  28. Jamie Doward, Paul Harris: Blair courts controversial US pastor Rick Warren in bid to unite faiths. in: The Observer , March 14, 2010.
  29. David Leigh, Ian Griffiths: The mystery of Tony Blair's finances . In: The Guardian , December 1, 2009. 
  30. ^ Like gold, only better, in: Le Monde diplomatique , January 15, 2010