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Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British 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 was Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1997. Blair remains the last British Labour Party leader to have won a general election.
From 1983 to 2007, Blair was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sedgefield. He was elected Labour Party leader in July 1994, following the sudden death of his predecessor, John Smith. Under Blair’s leadership, the party used the phrase “New Labour”, to distance it from previous Labour policies and the traditional conception of socialism. Blair declared support for a new conception that he referred to as “social-ism”, involving politics that recognised individuals as socially interdependent, and advocated social justice, cohesion, the equal worth of each citizen, and equal opportunity, also referred to as the Third Way. Critics of Blair denounced him for bringing the Labour Party towards the perceived centre ground of British politics, abandoning ‘genuine’ socialism and being too amenable to capitalism. Supporters, including the party’s public opinion pollster Philip Gould, stated that (after four consecutive general election defeats) the Labour Party had to demonstrate that it had made a decisive break from its left-wing past, in order to win an election again.
In May 1997, the Labour Party won a landslide general election victory, the largest in its history. Blair, at 43 years of age, became the youngest Prime Minister since 1812. In September 1997, Blair attained early personal popularity, receiving a 93% public approval rating, after his public response to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Labour Party went on to win two more general elections under his leadership: in 2001, in which it won another landslide victory, and in 2005, with a greatly reduced majority. During his first term as Prime Minister, his government oversaw a large increase in public spending and introduced the National Minimum Wage Act, Human Rights Act, and Freedom of Information Act. His government also held referendums in which the Scottish and Welsh electorates voted in favour of devolved administration. In Northern Ireland, Blair was involved in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement.
Blair supported the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration, and ensured that the British Armed Forces participated in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and, more controversially, the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Blair has faced criticism for his role in the invasion of Iraq, including calls for having him tried for war crimes and waging a war of aggression; in 2016, the Iraq Inquiry criticised his actions and described the invasion as unjustified and unnecessary.
Blair was succeeded as Leader of the Labour Party and as Prime Minister by Gordon Brown in June 2007. On the day that Blair resigned as Prime Minister, he was appointed the official Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, an office which he held until May 2015. He currently runs the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change