Tony Blair

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Tony Blair at a Labour Party meeting in 2005.

Tony Blair, British politician, leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007 and Prime Minister in three Parliaments, was founder, with Gordon Brown, of the movement known as New Labour. He was known internationally for his responsibility for British participation in the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and for his advocacy of aid to Africa and other developing regions. He sought to modernise the United Kingdom's public services, encourage enterprise and innovation in its private sector and keep its economy open to international commerce. Under his premiership, British governments made major changes to the British constitution by legislation that transferred decision-making to devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Early life

The second son of Leo Blair and Hazel Blair, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was born on 6th May 1953 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Between 1955 and 1959, the family lived in Australia, where Leo lectured in law at the University of Adelaide. On returning to Britain, Leo found a job as a lecturer at Durham University, and Tony attended a local school there. A former communist, Leo became chairman of the local Conservative association, and began to campaign as a Conservative candidate for Parliament. In 1963, Leo had a stroke that left him partially paralysed. With his father temporarily disabled, Blair was sent to Fettes College,[1] an elite private boarding school in Edinburgh. He took an active part in school sports, played major parts in school plays and achieved high grades in English, History and French, but his attitude to authority became sour and rebellious. His housemaster is reported to have said that "He was intensely argumentative and every school rule was questioned: he could uphold his side of the debate about the rights and wrongs of everything better than any boy in the school."[2], and he was once caned for persistently flouting the school rules[3].

After Fettes, Tony Blair spent a gap year in London, promoting rock bands and stacking shelves in a food hall. In 1972 he became an undergraduate at Oxford University and obtained a degree with second class honours in jurisprudence. While at Oxford, his awareness of religion was stimulated by Peter Thomson[4], of whom he has written "whatever good that I have done, he inspired it"[5]. As a student, he played the guitar and enjoyed rock music and singing. He was briefly a member of a rock band, but his principal leisure interest was in acting, and he is reported to have developed an animated stage presence[6]. In 1975, his mother died of cancer, an event which, according to Anthony Seldon, "caused him to re-evaluate his world"[7]. In 1976, he became a Bar pupil of Derry Irvine who groomed him intellectually, helped him develop his ability as a performer, and introduced him to key figures in the Labour party[8]. In 1980, he married fellow-barrister Cherie Booth, who is said to have crystallised his political views and shaped his political ambition[9]. They had have four children (Euan, Nicky, Kathryn and Leo).

Political outlook

Tony Blair was introduced by Peter Thomson to the works of the little-known Scottish philosopher John Macmurray[10], who had developed an analysis of the relation between the individual and the state that is in many ways similar to what is now known as communitarianism. Under Macmurray's influence, he came to see the state as a means of helping the individual to "overcome limitations unfairly imposed by poverty, poor education, poor health, housing and welfare"[11]. That belief persisted throughout his political career, although his perception of how to achieve those objectives underwent considerable change. He saw the Labour party as a potential instrument for their achievement, but only if it discarded much of its existing ideology.

.. there were clear pointers to future policy: a tough line on antisocial behaviour; investment and reform in public services; pro-Europe and pro US; opportunity and responsibility together in welfare; encouragement for small- and medium-sized enterprises; and even-handedness between business and labour ...
Tony Blair A Journey, page 94.

Even in 1983, he had seen his party as "out of its time"[12], and he was soon to decide to leave it if it did not change[13]. He knew little at that time about the practice of politics, but was to learn much from the following ten years of close association with the more experienced Gordon Brown, of whom he has written "he taught me the business of politics in roughly the same way as Derry taught me the business of the Bar"[14]. In the course of that ten-year association, they evolved an essentially pragmatic set of proposals for reform that were to guide their campaign to modernise their party's policy programme (see box).

Early party and parliamentary career

Soon after graduating from Oxford in 1975, Tony Blair joined the Labour party, and ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1982 in the safe Conservative constituency of Beaconsfield.[15] At the 1983 UK general election, he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Sedgefield, County Durham[16]. He and Gordon Brown were recognised by the party leadership as the most able of the new entry of MPs [17], and they were soon appointed to posts in support of its Shadow Cabinet. In 1988, Tony Blair joined the shadow cabinet itself, as Shadow Secretary of State for Employment[18]. In that rôle, he gained the party's acceptance of the European Union's Social Charter and by doing so, ended its support for the closed shop[19]. Throughout this time, he was developing a reputation as a moderniser, frequently appearing in the media. Although he supported Neil Kinnock's successful fight, as party leader, against the party's left-wing extremists, Tony Blair became impatient with the pace of change, and he tried unsuccessfully to persuade John Smith to challenge Neil Kinnock's leadership. By 1992, after the party had been defeated in a succession of four general elections, many of its members had come to accept that its policies were making it unelectable. That was not enough for Tony Blair, however: he advocated change "not because we have to, but because we want to"[20].

When party leader John Smith died unexpectedly in 1994, Gordon Brown confidently expected to succeed him, but Tony Blair had by then come to believe that he had something that Gordon Brown lacked[21], and they became potential rivals for the leadership. Tony Blair was the more popular with the public and the party, and it was evident that Gordon Brown had no chance of beating him in a contest for the party leadership. In an attempt to avoid such a contest, he had a series of meetings with Gordon Brown that he has described as difficult but not unfriendly. Gordon Brown agreed to step aside and support Blair's candidature.[22]

Leader of the Labour Party, 1994-2007

New Labour

Tony Blair was elected as leader of the Labour party in July 1994 and, in 1995, he and Gordon Brown campaigned successfully for a major change to its constitution. At its annual conference that year, the party amended its constitution by removing its commitment to "the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange", which had been in place since 1918. Although the clause in question no longer played a significant part in the party's policies, its formal commitment to nationalisation was recognised as having been a factor in its unpopularity. For Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the amendment which removed it symbolised a set of policies that they were determined that the party should adopt, and which they termed "New Labour". The new policies were to include the acceptance of Margaret Thatcher's trade union law; acceptance of the Conservative governments' privatisations of the public utilities; renewed investment in, and reform of, the public services; and even-handedness between business and labour[23]. That package was eventually accepted - with some reluctance[24] - by the party's National Executive Committee[25].

Election campaign

Having won over the Labour party, Tony Blair's next task was to win over the electorate. He had himself become well-known and popular, but the public were still suspicious of his party's policies. To impress upon them the fact that there had been a genuine change of policy, the party adopted five pledges: not to raise income tax, to cut class sizes, to reduce health service waiting lists, and to stick to their predecessors spending plans for two years[26]. The marketing techniques that had been introduced by Saatchi and Saatchi to the Conservative party's 1979 campaign were extended [27] by a team of enthusiastic amateurs, including the former journalist, Alastair Campbell. A factor in the party's 1992 defeat was thought to have been the influence of a hostile press and, in particular, the humiliating treatment suffered by former leader Neil Kinnock at the hands of the high-circulation Sun newspaper. Campbell was convinced of the need to avoid a repetition, and he and Tony Blair devoted much effort to winning over those newspapers that had been hostile to Labour. They succeeded in persuading The Sun to change sides - but none of the others. In fact the evidence suggests that, although intensely partisan, the British press does not have much influence upon election outcomes[28], and it does not seem likely that their success affected the outcome.

The outcome of the election broke a number of records. More Labour MPs (419) were elected than ever before, and the Conservatives were left with fewer seats (165) than at any time since 1906. In terms of votes, however, the result was unremarkable. At 44.4 per cent, Labour's share of the vote was lower than at any election between 1945 and 1966, and its lead over the Conservatives was less than that secured by the Conservatives over Labour in 1983 [29]. The apparent success of the campaign team's efforts was to have a continuing influence, however. Throughout most of his premiership, Tony Blair was to rely more upon the team of Alastair Campbell, Jonathan Powell, Anji Hunter, Sally Morgan, Peter Mandelson and Phillip Gould than upon his senior political colleagues[30]. Campaigning techniques, such as the use of an instant rebuttal team to counter inaccurate reports and comments, were continued in support of Tony Blair's fear that the party's electoral lead could be lost, and that a single term in office would not enable him to push through his wished-for reforms. A process was set in motion that came to be known as "continuous campaigning".

Prime Minister: a new style of government

The machinery of government

We do not suggest that there is or should be an ideal or unchangeable system of collective Government, still less that procedures are in aggregate any less effective now than in earlier times. However, we are concerned that the informality and circumscribed character of the Government’s procedures which we saw in the context of policy-making towards Iraq risks reducing the scope for informed collective political judgement."
Report of the Hutton Inquiry[8] page 146.

In the British constitutional tradition, a government's decisions are the product, first of deliberation by the Cabinet, and then of approval by Parliament[31], and the Prime Minister's rôle in the Cabinet has been that of of "first among equals"[32]. The conduct of decision-making during Tony Blair's premiership was a major departure from that tradition. Margaret Thatcher—whom he admired—was known to have preferred to use the Cabinet only to provide formal assent to decisions that she had taken in consultation with small groups of like-minded ministerial colleagues[33]. Tony Blair went even further, frequently consulting only with his personal team (and with Gordon Brown) - and the minister concerned - and involving the full Cabinet only on matters of major national importance[34]. The traditional function of the Cabinet Office was to maintain a record of government decisions, to serve as the Prime Minister's staff and to coordinate the work of the civil service in carrying out the government's instructions. Tony Blair seldom used them for any of those purposes,

Increasingly, Prime Ministers are like CEOs or chairmen of major companies. They have to set policy direction; they have to see it is followed; they have to get data on whether it is; they have to measure outcomes
Tony Blair A Journey page 338.

Prime Ministers had traditionally played no part in the delivery of policy measures, but Tony Blair wanted access to the information needed to monitor that process. When his staff found it difficult to get access to departmental records or to the records of the Treasury-managed Public Service Agreements system, he set up his own Delivery Unit with direct access to government departments. He also set up a Policy Unit and a Strategy Unit to provide him with independent policy research and development reports. He was seldom satisfied with the outcome.

The Blair/Brown partnership

Ultimately, though the relentless personal pressure from Gordon was wearing, it actually troubled me far less than they (or perhaps he) ever realised. And it was in many ways a far less less toxic and deadly opposition than might have been the case.

So was he difficult, at times maddening? Yes. But he was also strong, capable and brilliant, and those were qualities for which I never lost respect.

Tony Blair A Journey pages 499-500.

Tony Blair's relationship with Gordon Brown had a major influence upon his decision-making. Their partnership as Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer was closer and longer-lasting than any that had gone before. Much of what passed between them is known only to them, but it is clear from such information that is available[35] that their relationship was at times intensely productive, and at times intensely counterproductive. In the opinion of Tony Blair's biographer, Anthony Seldon, its productive aspects were by far the more important[36] although, at the time, the public were made aware only of its negative aspects.

On some issues, each went his own way (the Good Friday agreement, Kosovo and education for Blair; economic growth and welfare for Brown[37]) but both remained committed to the policy framework that they had worked out in opposition, and they always sought and obtained each other's agreement on other issues. Tony Blair's memoirs contain fewer than a dozen references to most of his other ministerial colleagues, but over fifty references to his dealings with Gordon Brown.

Public relations

Labour’s past experience of handling the media, and its belief that government communications staff were not up to the mark, saw a rise in the media handling role of politically appointed, unelected special advisers. Their more aggressive approach and their increased use of selective briefing of media outlets, in which government information was seen to be being used to political advantage, led to a reaction from the media that has produced a far more adversarial relationship with government.
Report of the Phillis Review of Government Communications, 2004

A third distinguishing feature of Tony Blair's premiership was its counterproductive attempt to preserve its initial popularity. The independent Phillis review of government communications reported in 2004 that there had been a "three-way breakdown in trust between government and politicians, the media and the general public"[38] that had been attributed, by contributors, to the communications strategy adopted by the Government in 1997, and to the reaction of the media to it.

On taking office in 1997, Tony Blair had decided that the staff of the Government Information Service was not up to its task, and he conferred powers upon his press secretary, Alastair Campbell, to give them instructions on media management and to recruit political advisers to help them. Under Campbell's leadership they adopted the methods developed by Tony Blair's team that were believed to have contributed to the Labour party's election victory. Campbell is reported to have told them that he wanted them to forecast what would be on the front page of next day's Sun, and help to write it. On his instructions, they took to rewarding favourable reporting with preferential access to information and punishing adverse reporting by withholding access. In his own twice-daily press briefings, Campbell himself adopted an aggressive manner that some journalists resented[39]. An atmosphere of suspicion developed and there was a growing tendency to dismiss government statements as "spin" (an ill-defined term that had by then acquired an implied connotation of misinformation). Tony Blair is reported to have said in 1998 that he feared that he was "suffering more from spin doctoring than benefiting from it", and by 2001 Roy Jenkins was advocating Campbell's dismissal[40].

Prime Minister: the new policies

Domestic policy

Social Policies

In his election campaign, Tony Blair had been anxious to escape from the Labour party's reputation for "tax-and-spend" domestic policies and he wanted instead to establish, a reputation for fiscal prudence. He had undertaken in general terms to modernise the welfare state, but he had avoided undertaking to reduce poverty, achieve full employment, or reverse the increase in inequality that had occurred during the Thatcher administration. Once in office, however, his government launched a package of social policies designed to reduce unemployment and poverty. The commitment to modernise the welfare state was tackled by the introduction of "welfare to work" programmes[41][42] to motivate the unemployed to return to work instead of drawing benefit. Poverty reduction programmes were targeted on specific groups, including children and the elderly, and took the form of what were termed "New Deals"[43]. There were also new tax credit allowances for low-income and single-parent families with children, and "Sure Start" programmes for under-fours in deprived areas. A "National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal"[44] was launched in 2001 with the objective of ensuring that “within 10 to 20 years no-one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live"; a "Social Exclusion Unit"[45] was set up, and annual progress reports concerning the reduction of poverty and social exclusion were commissioned[46][47].

Public service reform

The Civil Service had and has great strengths. It was and is impartial, It is, properly directed, a formidable machine. At times of crisis, superb. Its people are intelligent, hard working and dedicated to the public service. It was simply, like much else, out of date. Faced with big challenges it thought small thoughts. It reckoned in increments when the system required leads and bounds"
Tony Blair A Journey, page 206

Throughout his premiership, Tony Blair was preoccupied with the reform of the public services, which he considered to have been suffering from underinvestment [48] and inefficiency. He had little confidence in the ability of the civil service to introduce the necessary changes, and he repeatedly called upon private sector assistance. The government's commitment to deficit reduction[49] precluded reinvestment during his first term, and he concentrated on improving efficiency by setting up a Performance and Innovation Unit which placed mixed teams of private sector management experts and civil servants in government departments. With the easing of fiscal restraint in his second and third terms, public sector annual investment was restored to late-'70s levels, but the increases were usually made conditional upon productivity gains using the Treasury's new Public Service Agreement system. The eminent industrialist, Sir Peter Gershon was asked to lead an independent review of public sector efficiency and efficiency targets were set. There are several references in his memoirs to Tony Blair's frustration with the results achieved[50]. His discontent with progress made in his first term led to his creation of the Delivery Unit led by Sir Michael Barber, and his first expression of satisfaction was with the results achieved by that unit during his second term[51].


"Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education, education."

Tony Blair, speech to Labour party conference, October 1996[52]

Tony Blair introduced a fundamental change in the rôle of government in education. Before 1988, governments had confined themselves to introducing legislation and allocating funds. Then, in 1988, the Education Act introduced a national curriculum and national tests at 7, 11 and 14, but left implementation in the hands of local education authorities. Under Tony Blair's premiership, the government assumed responsibility for delivery by setting targets and monitoring outcomes[53]. Among the reforms that were introduced were a reduction in class sizes, the creation of a professional standards body for teachers and a training college for head teachers[54], measures for dealing with failing schools and the introduction of tuition fees for university students[55]. A controversial feature was the replacement of failing schools by "academies" which were state-maintained independent schools set up with the help of outside sponsors[56]. The reforms were financed by an increase in public expenditure on education from £29 billion in 1997 to £60 billion in 2007[57]. The outcomes are summarised in the paragraph on education outcomes below, and criticisms of the reforms are summarised in the paragraph on education policy.


"The Review has concluded that the UK must expect to devote a significantly larger share of its national income to health care over the next 20 years. It has projected the likely costs of reversing the significant cumulative underinvestment over past decades, to catch up with the standards of care seen in other countries ..."

Wanless review of UK healthcare, 2002.

From the start of his premiership, Tony Blair took a personal interest in the reform of the National Health Service. He was concerned that it was achieving less than other rich countries in cancer treatment[58] and the treatment of heart disease[59], and that within the United Kingdom there were large regional variations. Within the first year he announced a radical reorganisation aimed at raising quality standards, increasing efficiency, and driving performance[60], and in 1999 he set up the National Institute for Clinical Excellence[61] (NICE) to provide professional guidance, and set national quality standards. He was also concerned by what he considered to be his predecessors' underinvestment in health, and in 1999 he announced the intention of raising the government's health expenditure (then at about 5.7 per cent of GDP) to the European Union average (then about 8.4 per cent of GDP) within three years[62]. In July 2000 the "NHS Plan" [63] announced the government's intention to devolve power to local health authorities, introduce new contractual arrangements for medical professionals and set waiting time targets. In 2002, as a further measure of decentralisation, it announced the intention of creating functionally independent "foundation hospitals[64]. (Those and other measures were given detailed statutory effect by the 2003 Health and Social Care Act[65])

Health outcomes are summarised in the paragraph on health outcomes below, and criticisms of the reforms are summarised in the paragraph on health policy.

Crime prevention

The Labour party's traditional approach to the problem of crime was to tackle the social conditions to which it could be attributed, but Tony Blair wanted to go further. He wanted to augment existing crime prevention policies with measures to deal with the low-level anti-social behaviour and vandalism that he saw as a cause of fear and anger for poorer families. On Gordon Brown' suggestion, he adopted the slogan "Tough on Crime. Tough on the Causes of Crime" to signal the adoption of both approaches.

Blair's administration introduced a great number of criminal justice acts starting with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998[66] was largely the expression of the combined approach. It created the Youth Justice Board[67] within the Home Office to provide expert advice on the treatment of young offenders, and introduced measures to strengthen parents' legal responsibility for the conduct of their offspring. More controversially it provided for the use of "Acceptable Behaviour Contracts" (agreements under taken from perpetrators to desist from specified practices) and "Antisocial Behaviour Orders" (orders to desist, a breach of which could lead to prosecution)[68]; and a range of other provisions such as parenting orders [69] followed. The crime outcomes are summarised below in the paragraph on crime outcomes and criticisms of the government's crime policies are summarised in the paragraph on crime prevention policy

Economic policy

New Labour came into power at a time when the post-war controversies concerning the management of the economy had been largely resolved. As shadow chancellor, Gordon Brown had discussed economic policy with US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and had adopted the tenets of the Greenspan era. Following Alan Greenspan's advice, it was decided to abandon money supply targets, to instruct the Bank of England to target monetary policy directly upon inflation targets to be determined by the government, and to grant it freedom in its month-to-month execution. It was also decided to adopt a policy of fiscal stability by the adoption of a code for fiscal stability; with a "sustainable investment rule" that set a limit upon the budget deficit, averaged over the economic cycle; and a "golden rule" that confined the use of deficits to the financing of investment. Economic growth was still a policy objective but it was assumed that it could be achieved by encouraging innovation[70], rewarding enterprise, and punishing anticompetitive behaviour[71][72].

The outcomes of those policy decisions are summarised below in the paragraph headed economic outcomes and criticisms of the policies are summarised in the paragraph on economic policy.

Northern Ireland

"I thought it was no longer in anyone's interest to tolerate conflict"

Tony Blair Journey page 157

".. too often between us, one person's history has been another person's myth. We need not be prisoners of our history."

Tony Blair, addressing the Irish Parliament, 26th November 1998[73]

"People who had wanted to kill each other were now wanting to work together"

Tony Blair's comment on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly, 8th May 2007[74]

Tony Blair had wanted to try to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict even before he became party leader. The attempt by John Major to broker a settlement had collapsed with renewed terrorism, but he had agreed with John Major that there was still a chance of peace.[75] Once elected as party leader, he disavowed the Labour Party's traditional support for Irish unification and announced a policy of neutrality between the rival demands for separation from and membership of the United Kingdom, and sought for recognition as an "honest broker" in the search for an agreed settlement.[76] He found the Bertie Ahern (then leader of the opposition in the Irish Parliament) to be of like mind and, with the help of Jonathan Powell, he made contact with the leaders of the opposing factions in Northern Ireland.

A major chapter of Tony Blair's memoirs[77] is devoted to the protracted and detailed negotiations with Northern Ireland politicians pursued by himself and Bertie Aherne as Prime Ministers of their countries, with the help of Mo Mowlam, Senator George Mitchell and the support of Bill Clinton. An IRA cease fire in July 1997 was followed by negotiations to set up an Independent International Commission on Decommissioning[78] in August 1997 and, by the conclusion in May 1998 of the Belfast Agreement[79] ("The Good Friday Agreement") a power-sharing Assembly and Executive was created for Northern Ireland. After the suspension of the Assembly in October 2002 over the Provisional IRA's failure to decommission, negotiations were resumed and culminated, after a favourable report by the Decommissioning Commission, by the creation of a reconstituted power sharing Executive in May 2007.[80]

The outcomes of those policy decisions are summarised in the article on the Troubles.


After being caught by surprise at the surge of new entrants during the early years of his premiership[81], Tony Blair gave close attention to the control of immigration. He would have been aware of the strength of popular concern: the monthly MORI poll of "the most important issues facing Britain" was consistently recording immigration among their main concerns. During his premiership, four major Acts of Parliament on the subject were passed (in 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2006) - more than on any other subject. Their effect was to bring about a fundamental reshaping of the UK's policy towards immigration, intended to favour skilled migrants and students, and to exclude bogus asylum-seekers.

Foreign policy


"...we want a union of nations, not a federal superstate".

Tony Blair, speech in Warsaw , 30th May 2003[9]

"I believe in Europe as a political project. I believe in Europe with a strong and caring social dimension. I would never accept a Europe that was simply an economic market. .. Political Europe and economic Europe do not live in separate rooms. "

Tony Blair, speech to the EU parliament, 2005 [10]

Tony Blair saw the European Union, not just as an economic customs union, nor as federation, but rather as a political union of nations.

Within a few weeks of the election, Britain ended its opt-out from the social chapter[82] of the European Union's Maastricht Treaty, and had signed up for what was to become its Amsterdam Treaty. Tony Blair played a major role in sponsoring the Lisbon Agenda[83] which aimed to improve the flexibility and openness of European markets. At the outset of his premiership, he was supportive in principle of the idea of a single European currency (or Eurozone), but he came to accept on practical grounds that early membership would not be in Britain's interest. Tony Blair maintained his intention the Britain should join the Eurozone when the conditions are right (as defined by a set of five conditions), but it became evident before long that there was no more than a remote possibility of meeting those conditions. He was aware of the strength of "eurosceptic" opinion in the press and the public, and he announced plans to hold a referendum on the proposed European constitution ("with deep misgivings"[84]). The plans were abandoned in 2005, however, following the French and Dutch rejection of the treaty.

The United States

"I see Britain as in some ways a bridge between the US and Europe, not in the sense of any special relationship...but that it is important to say to America 'You know we value your friendship, your contribution, we want you thoroughly engaged with Europe'; and to say to Europe 'You know, thank goodness, there is America there because America plays a vital role and strong leadership role in the world that is to the benefit of all the world".
Tony Blair's briefing to American journalists, Downing Street, 2 February 1998.

"And our job, my nation that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond, our job is to be there with you. You are not going to be alone."

Tony Blair, speech to the U.S. Congress accepting the Congressional Gold Medal, July 2003[11]

According to Tony Blair's biographer, Anthony Seldon, both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had a deep empathy for the United States[85] and their visits and contacts when in opposition had a defining influence on them[86], and many of those contacts were maintained when they were in office. Their political outlook was influenced by the communitarian teaching of Professor Amitai Etzioni at George Washington University, their campaigning methods were influenced by what they saw of Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, and their economic thinking was closer to the "Anglo-Saxon model" of open markets, labour market price flexibility and limited government spending than to the "European Social model" of welfare protection, high governmental public spending and inflexible labour markets[87].

The close personal relationship that developed between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton and their families [88] was also to have an influence on their policies. When the Monica Lewinsky story broke in the press, Blair stood by Clinton; when asked if this was not “politically risky” he said of Clinton, “I have found him throughout someone I could trust, someone I could rely upon, someone I am proud to call not just a colleague, but a friend … And my belief is that the right thing to say is what you feel.”[89]. In a visit to Tony Blair's Chequers residence at the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton has been reported to have advised Tony Blair to "get as close to George Bush as you have been to me[90]. Following the 9/11 terrorist attack, Tony Blair and George Bush formed a relationship which George Bush has described as "the closest friendship I was to have with any foreign leader"[91].

Military intervention

"All Members shall refrain...from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state..."

Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, 1945.

"Based on our reading of state practice, Security Council precedent, established norms, emerging guiding principles, and evolving customary international law, the Commission believes that the Charter’s strong bias against military intervention is not to be regarded as absolute when decisive action is required on human protection grounds."

- and:

"Where a population is suffering serious harm as a result of internal war, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention gives way to the international responsibility to protect"

Report of an International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, December 2001[92]

At an early stage in his premiership, Tony Blair had to work out his attitude to the contentious issue of military intervention in the affairs of other sovereign states. Such intervention had been explicitly forbidden by Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations (see box), but there had been 17 genocides in the course of the following forty years[93], and there had already been several United Nations military interventions[94] on humanitarian grounds. Tony Blair's conclusion was a combination of humanitarianism and pragmatism. In a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago in 1999, he set out his five considerations[95]:

- First, are we sure of our case?
- Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options?
- Third, are there military operations that we can sensibly undertake?
- Fourth, are we prepared for the long term?
- Finally, are our national interests involved?

In contrast to the conventional policy of avoiding intervention except in the national interest, he had decided that the humanitarian case should come first - a view that was later endorsed by an international commission (see box). But he acknowledged and respected the many who strongly disagreed: "The opposite view... is not the product of moral disability; it is born from a perfectly natural reservation about the unforeseeable ramifications of ...intervention"[96]. But, while recognising that danger, he argued that non-intervention could also have unforeseeable ramifications. As an example, he noted that early non-intervention in Bosnia had led Milosevic to believe that he could get away with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo - as he had in Srebrenica[97].

Prime minister: the record

First term in office, 1997-2001


The 1997 general election resulted in the election of a Labour government with a parliamentary majority of 179 seats, and the appointment of Tony Blair as Prime Minister.

The first two years of Tony Blair's premiership were devoted mainly to domestic issues, including devolution and Northern Ireland, housing benefit abuse, tuition fees for university students, the "Sure Start" scheme for youngsters, tax credits for working families, penalties for anti-social behaviour, the comprehensive spending review, and the introduction of a national minimum wage. There were also unplanned activities: in August 1997, he expressed the nation's grief at the death of Princess Diana; and in November he denied allegations that the government's exemption of Formula One racing from its ban on smoking advertisements had been a reward for the a donation to party funds[98]. In January 1998, he took up his first six-month presidency of the European Union, and in that year he took the first of a series of foreign policy decisions, with air attacks against Serbian targets in Kosovo and against military installations in Iraq[99]. In the final years of his turned his attention to the reform of the health and education services. In a decision that he came to regret, he opposed the attempt by Ken Livingstone to become the Labour Party's candidate in the election of Mayor of London, because of his left-wing political views and his opposition to the Government's plans for the London underground railway system[100]. He became concerned by the indications in the opinion polls of a falling-off of public support for the government[101], and in a defensive speech at the party conference in September 2000, he acknowledged a general feeling that the government had lost touch with the people, and he apologised for the government's mistakes about pension increases and for its failure to cancel its predecessor's "millennium dome" project.

(for links to contemporary reports of other events of the period, see the timelines subpage)


Almost immediately after the election, Tony Blair set in motion the negotiations described above, that were to lead to the creation of a power sharing executive in Northern Ireland. Also among the early measures of his first term as Prime Minister were referendums about devolution in Scotland and Wales. Following a favourable result there, the 1998 Scotland Act established a separate parliament for Scotland with devolved responsibilities in most domestic areas [102]; The first Scottish Parliament was elected in May 1999. The result of the referendum in Wales was also in support of devolution, but by a narrow majority, and with a small electoral turnout;[103] accordingly a Welsh National Assembly was established, but with much more limited responsibilities than the Scottish Parliament.[104]

"We must act - to save thousands of innocent men, women and children".

Tony Blair, statement on Kosovo to Parliament, 23 March 1999[12].


In 1998 Kosovo was a province of Serbia with a majority Albanian population that was seeking independence from Serbian rule. In February, the tension between the Serbian government and the Kosovo liberation movement turned into large-scale violence, prompting widespread international concern. In October, an agreement backed by the threat of NATO air strikes, achieved a brief pause in the fighting, but in January 1999 a massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians prompted renewed international concern [105]. In conversations between Tony Blair and President Clinton in January and February, it was agreed that there should be air strikes on the Serbian forces in Kosovo in order to force their withdrawal. It was proposed to use the authority of of NATO[106] since the Russian government's opposition to the use of military force had made it clear that United Nations approval would not be available. On 23 March 1999, Tony Blair made a statement to Parliament proposing air strikes, which was supported by the leaders of the opposition parties [107]. British and American air strikes began the next day and continued for several weeks. However, it soon became evident that they were not succeeding. In a meeting in Washington on 21st April, Tony Blair tried to get President Clinton to agree to the use of ground forces, but their use turned out to be unnecessary because the Serbian Government eventually agreed to withdraw its troops (following pressure from Russia[108], and in the belief that a ground attack was imminent),

Sierra Leone

In 1999, a peace treaty had been expected to end the bloody six-year civil war[109] in the West African country of Sierra Leone, but in April 2000, a United Nations peacekeeping force came under attack by rebel forces. Over 500 of them were captured, and chaos returned. Following a personal appeal to Tony Blair[110] by the country's president (and without United Nations authorisation), a force of 800 British paratroops was sent to the capital, Freetown, in Operation Barras. In the course of next six months, the rebels were defeated, the hostages were freed, the rebel leader was captured and a degree of order was restored. [111].

(for links to contemporary reports of other events of the period, see the timelines subpage)

Second term in office, 2001-2005


"This Is not a battle between the United States and terrorism, but between the free and democratic world and terrorism. We, therefore, here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy, and we, like them, will not rest until this evil is driven from our world"

Tony Blair, broadcast from Downing Street, 11 September, 2001.

The 2001 general election resulted in a slightly reduced Labour majority of 167 seats.

Much of the second term was devoted to a range of activities intended to follow up and reinforce the domestic initiatives of the first term, but they were overshadowed by the developments that followed the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States; and the defining events of the period were those concerned with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(for links to reports of other legislation and events of the period, see the timelines subpage)


On September 11th, two passenger aeroplanes were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, and a third into the Pentagon building in Washington DC. As soon as it was learned that they had been hijacked by members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation, Tony Blair made a statement of solidarity with the United States (see box). On the next day, in a telephone conversation with President Bush, he effectively committed Britain to participation in an attack on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, in Afghanistan[112]. During the following weeks, he rallied support from the leaders of France, Germany, Pakistan and Iran, and discussed diplomacy and tactics with President Bush in Washington. There had been some who feared military failure or a humanitarian disaster, but he was able to assure President Bush that few would oppose an attack.


For more information, see: Afghanistan War (2001-).

Joint US/UK air attacks began in October 2001, and American and British regular troops entered Afghanistan in November. The United Nations Security Council added its endorsement [113] in December, and formal military resistance collapsed by the end of the year. But the Afghanistan war was to continue in a different form. In his memoirs Tony Blair was to say "if I had known then that a decade later we would still be at war, I would have been profoundly disturbed and alarmed"[114], but that he still believed that to have avoided confrontation would have been a "terrible error, an act of political cowardice".


For more information, see: Iraq War.
"This is not the time to falter. This is the time for this house, not just this government or indeed this prime minister, but for this house to give a lead, to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing."
Tony Blair, opening address to the House of Commons, March 2003 [13]

(for contemporary reports on events in 2002 and 2003, see the timelines subpage)

In April 2002, Tony Blair learned that President Bush was considering an invasion of Iraq[115]. An invasion for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein had been authorised by the United States Congress in 1998[116], and previously by the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 678[117] in 1991, and President Bush considered that his removal would serve the purpose of his announced "war on terrorism"[118].

In his memoirs, Tony Blair recalls that he had also become convinced of the desirability of removing Saddam Hussein, but that, in view of international opposition to the idea, he had persuaded President Bush of the prior need for a confirmatory United Nations Resolution[119]. A draft resolution was duly submitted and after a joint French/Russian amendment ruling out an immediate invasion had been defeated, was unanimously approved as Security Council Resolution 1441 in November 2002[120]. However, while confirming Resolution 678, the new resolution did not refer specifically to the use of force, and it remained possible to argue that an intermediate resolution (Resolution 687[121]) had put military action on hold. In view of that uncertainty, Tony Blair sought legal advice and was told by the Attorney General, that it would be advisable for safety's sake to obtain a second confirmatory resolution, although in his opinion an invasion would still be legal without one[122]. In the meantime, representatives of France and Russia had announced their intention to veto any further resolution[123].

"..rather than lose the government, I would much rather have Tony and his wisdom and his strategic thinking, as Prime Minister of a strong and important ally"
George W Bush on his reasons for putting to Tony Blair the option of not sending British troops to Iraq[124]

Before finally committing the country to military action in Iraq, Tony Blair took the unprecedented steps of publishing the available military intelligence about Iraq, and seeking the approval of parliament. Under the UK Constitution the Royal Prerogative enables a Prime Minister to declare war without first consulting Parliament. The report of the Joint Intelligence Committee[125] stated that Saddam Hussein still possessed the "weapons of mass destruction (WMD)" that had been referred to in the United Nations Resolutions. Also, in a passage that received little attention at the time, it stated that some of them could be made ready within 45 minutes.

Although there had been a massive demonstration against going to war[126], a large majority of the British public were in favour of military action to remove Saddam Hussein[127], and the decision to invade Iraq was supported by the opposition Conservative Party - but opposed by the Liberal Democrat Party and by many within the Labour party. In the parliamentary debate on the decision, the Government motion was passed on 18th March 2003 by 412 votes to 149, with 139 of Labour's 410 MPs voting against[128]

The outcomes of the decisions on Afghanistan and Iraq are summarised in the paragraph on outcomes below, and criticisms of the decision are summarised in the paragraph on criticisms.

(for links to reports of other legislation and events of the period, see the timelines subpage)

Third term in office, 2005-2007

As a result of the general election of 2005, the Labour government survived for a further term, although with a much reduced parliamentary majority of 66 seats.

Tony Blair's final period in office was marked by controversy and accusations of wrongdoing. Accusations against him concerning the Iraq war, and his responses to them, are described in detail on the Iraq decisions paragraph of the addendum subpage. They centered on the claim that he had deliberately deceived parliament about his reasons for going to war, and concerning its legality under international law. He was also accused of involvement in what the media called the "cash for honours" scandal, and he was called as a witness in the police investigation. There was also criticism of his intervention to halt a police investigation into allegations of corruption between Saudi Arabia and a British company (BAE Systems) on the grounds that it would harm Britain's relationship with Saudi Arabia[129] and there was controversy and dissension among his colleagues over the timing of his departure. His public approval rating had dropped below 35 per cent, some in the Labour party considered that he had become an electoral liability, and a group of its MPs urged him to stand down.

Those pressures and distractions did not, however, prevent Tony Blair from continuing his pursuit of what he considered to be an incompletely fulfilled agenda. At home, he was involved in legislative proposals concerning education, health, immigration, identity cards and terrorism. In the European Council, he had in an acrimonious debate with Community leaders about the Common Agriculture Policy and the United Kingdom's contribution to the Community budget. At the Gleneagles Summit, he persuaded the leaders of the G8 countries to support the "Make Poverty History" movement with a financial commitment. With the Irish Prime Minister, he negotiated the "St Andrews Agreement" that led to the reinstatement of the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly.

He resisted calls to announce the date of his departure until May 2007, when he announced his intention to depart at the end of June.

(for links to reports of other legislation and events during the third term, see the timelines subpage),

Policy outcomes

Introduction: statistics and public opinion

The Tony Blair premiership was notable for the differences that had developed between the outcomes recorded in official statistics and the public perception of those outcomes (see crime outcomes). The lack of public confidence in official statistics at the time[130], has been attributed to the fact that, before 2007, they had been produced within government departments. Their constitution at the time was the stipulation of a non-statutory framework document[131] which made the regulation of professional standards the responsibility of an independent Statistics Commission [132] over which the government had no control. There was nevertheless a widespread suspicion that published statistics were being manipulated by ministers and by the newspapers in which they were reported.

The outcomes referred to in the following paragraphs may be expected to have been the product of multiple factors; their listing below does not imply that they were entirely due to the government policies that have been referred to.

Education outcomes

A BBC review in 2002 of Labour's 1997 election pledges for education concluded that, with minor exceptions, the pledges had been met[133].

Spending on education rose from 4.9% of GDP in the school year 1997/1998 to 5.6% for the year 2007/2008, and spending per pupil rose from £2,910 in 1997/1998 to £5,430 in 2007/2008. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of primary school teachers rose by 2.8%, the number of secondary school teachers by 14.5%, and the number of special education teachers by 17.7%. In primary schools, 10.8% of classes had 31 or more pupils in 2008, compared to 27.9% in 1997. In secondary schools, however, the percentage rose from 5.9 1997 to 10.9 in 2008[134]. According to government figures, the number of pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C grades rose from 46.3% in 1997 to 65.3% in 2008; the number of A-level passes increased from 87.2% of all A-level entries, to 97.2%; and the number of A-C grades at A-level had risen from 55.7% to 73.9% between 1997 and 2008. During this period there was an improvement in the number of A grades awarded from 15.7% of entries in 1997 to 25.9% of entries in 2008. There was also an improvement in primary school test results, but the Statistics Commission attributed much of the improvement by 2005 to external factors, including "teaching to the test"[135].

Health outcomes

".Blair's reputation was always going to stand or fall on whether huge amounts of extra health spending secured improved care. It did. By 2005, Labour's success was palpable, measured by waiting times, cancer and heart results or staff numbers. At its simplest, Labour did what people had been asking for: by devoting a higher fraction of national resources than ever before to health, the UK drew level with other European nations..
Polly Toynbee and David Walker: Better or Worse? - Has Labour Delivered? Bloomsbury, 2005.

The public is more satisfied with the NHS than at any time since 1984.

British Social Attitudes Report, 2009[14]

A BBC review in 2002 of Labour's 1997 election pledges for health concluded that, with some exceptions, the pledges had been met [136], and an independent audit in 2005 concluded that "Overall, in our view, the results of this audit are very positive" [137].

Expenditure on the NHS increased from £41.3bn in 1999/2000 to £102.7bn in 2009/10, a real terms increase of 95%. The number of doctors in the National Health Service rose from 89,619 in 1997 to 128,210 in 2007, and the number of qualified nurses from 318,856 to 399,597[138]. Waiting times were reduced. In October 1999, 497,500 had been waiting for longer than 13 weeks for a first outpatient appointment and 526,867 for inpatient treatment. In November 2009, 92.8% of people were treated within 18 weeks of a referral. Cancer and heart disease deaths were reduced. For cancer, the 3-year average mortality rate/m for under-75s fell from 1,287 in 1999-2001 to 1,140 in 2006-08, and for coronary heart disease it fell from 1,145 in 1999-2001 to 748 in 2006-08. [139].

A broadly favourable assessment of foundation hospitals was published by a cross-party committee in 2008 [140]

(See also the report of the UK Centre for the Measurement of Government Activity [141]).

Crime outcomes

A BBC review in 2002 of Labour's 1997 election pledges for home affairs concluded that, except for street crime, the pledges that concerned crime had been met[142]

Expenditure on the police force rose by over 40 per cent in real terms between 1998/9 and 2008/9 and police numbers rose from 111 thousand to 140 thousand. According to the British Crime Survey (a large-scale survey of a representative sample of adults living in private households in England and Wales that asks about people’s experiences and perceptions of crime) total crime fell by 48 per cent between 1995 and 2007/8, including falls of 59 per cent in domestic burglary, 48 per cent in crimes of violence, 20 per cent in vandalism, and 15 per cent in robbery (theft from the person. During that period between 65 per cent and 75 per cent of people thought crime was increasing [143].

Immigration outcomes

The inflow of long-term migrants into the United Kingdom increased from about 300 thousand in 1997 to about 600 thousand, or 1 per cent of the population, in 2007. Outflows increased from 250 thousand to 400 thousand, so that the net inflow rose from 50 thousand to 200 thousand[144]. It has been estimated by a House of Lords Committee that foreign-born persons constituted about 10 per cent of the population in 2008, that immigration has had little impact upon the prosperity of its inhabitants, but that some 40 per cent of the population consider it to be the most important issue facing the country[145].

Economic outcomes

.. a goldilocks economy ... (neither too hot nor too cold)

Jean-Philippe Cotis, OECD Chief Economist September 2006.

In 2007, UK GDP per capita was the third highest among the G7 countries (having been the lowest in 1997) and GDP growth had remained close to a trend rate of around 2¾ per cent [146]. The annual rate of increase of the consumer price index went slightly above 3 per cent in two months during the years 1997 to 2007, but for most of the period it remained below 2½ per cent[147]. The unemployment rate, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, remained below 6 per cent from 1998 to 2007, in contrast to rates that were often above 9 per cent in other European countries[148]

Between 1997 and 2007 the government reduced its budget deficit to slightly below the level it inherited from its predecessors, and used more of it to finance investment rather than the day-to-day running costs of the public sector. It also reduced its public debt to below the level it had inherited. The "golden rule" and the "sustainable investment rule", of its code for fiscal stability, were both met over the economic cycle from 1997–98 to 2006–07[149].

Afghanistan and Iraq

By 2010 there had been over 300 British military fatalities in the war in Afghanistan and over 1800 among other Coalition forces[150], and despite the establishment of an elected government there, the fighting against Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents was continuing.

The major combat phase of the Iraq war lasted from March 20th to until May 1 2003, during which 50 British soldiers were killed. During the sectarian violence that followed, there were a further 129 British military fatalities, bringing the total to 179[150]. Military fatalities among United States and other Coalition forces amounted to 4,664 bringing the total to 4,742. Three estimates put civilian deaths during that period at between 100 thousand and 150 thousand (the "Iraq Body Count", The Brookings Institute and the World Health Organisation) and there have been others as low as 40 thousand (Associated Press) and one at between 400 and 800 thousand (published in The Lancet)[151].

The majority of Iraqi respondents to an opinion poll said that life in 2007 was better than it had been under Saddam Hussein [152].

British forces left Iraq in 2009, and by 2010 the sectarian violence there had largely subsided. Iraq was then considered to be in the early stages of a negotiated end to a civil war[153].

Policy criticisms

Education policy

"High stakes testing, which holds schools and teachers accountable for pupil attainment in literacy and numeracy, has narrowed the curriculum, diminished opportunities for teachers to develop the whole child, caused considerable stress for many children and changed the basis of teacher-pupil relationships. Teaching in ways that are not in the ‘best interests’ of children and contrary to their professional judgement in order to boost test results has compromised primary teacher professionalism.".
Report of a 2003-5 study of teaching in 50 English primary schools[154]

There have been major professional and political criticisms of New Labour's education policies. A House of Commons cross-party committee has found a consensus view that there is urgent need of significant reform of the national curriculum, and has suggested that less than half of teaching time should be devoted to it[155]. The Committee also criticised what it considered to be an over-emphasis on national tests, which address only a limited a limited range of children’s skills, and as a result of which "some children may suffer as a result of a limited educational diet" (and see box). The tests in question are the SATS tests administered at the end of each Key Stage in primary and secondary education (ages 7, 11 and 14) as well as the increase in the number of examinations prompted by the adoption of the Curriculum 2000 measures which added Advanced Subsidiary examinations at the end of the first year of sixth form, as the first half of A-level examinations.

There have also been complaints from major employers governing the performance of school-leavers [156][157]. The government has been criticising for the mixed record it has had on vocational training in schools, where the approach has been less coherent than some desire: instead of providing a clear vocational alternative in schools, curriculum reforms have led to an 'alphabet soup' of qualifications (GNVQs, VCEs, AVCEs, ND/HNDs, NC/HNCs and vocational Diplomas) that are not widely understood by the general public or by employers.

Political opposition to the government's education policies has come mainly from within the Labour party, and has been mainly on the subjects of academy schools[158] and university tuition fees, which increased dramatically under Tony Blair's government[159].

Health policy

The Government's proposal to introduce foundation hospitals met criticism at the time from within the Labour party and from the British Medical Association [160] on the grounds that it could lead to a two tier health service, with hospitals competing for both patients and staff. Waiting list targets were attacked by the British Medical Association on the grounds that they could be inconsistent with clinical priorities[161]. But the most persistent criticisms of the Government's health policies were about the quality of the health service's management. A 2006 report by the cross-party House of Commons Health Committee[162], criticised the financial management of the National Health Service, as a result of which an increasing number of hospitals had overspent their budgets, and some had had to close wards, freeze recruitment or delay operations. It attributed the problem to poor financial management on the part of local managers, and to unrealistic estimates and repeated target changes on the part of the Government. A further report by the committee in 2007 [163] criticised the government for attaching more importance to increasing staff numbers and staff pay than to increasing their efficiency. It referred to evidence of the need to improve the management skills of health service managers and clinicians, which it attributed to "a disastrous failure of workforce planning". (Overall productivity - the amount of output achieved per unit of input, adjusted for quality - is reported to have declined by 4.3% between 1997 and 2007[164].) The majority of respondents to a national opinion poll in 2010 considered the National Health Service to be in need of a major overhaul[165].

Crime prevention policy

An audit by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London [166] argues that the government's success had been far less clear-cut than had been claimed, and that in reality, its record is mixed:

Despite the record investment, there has not been a significant step change in outcomes ... Despite a decade of reform, crime and victimisation levels remain high and the proportion of crimes dealt with is extremely low.

The police service has been critical of the government's crime reduction targets. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme in 2008, the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers said that:

Top-down government targets delivered benefits when first introduced to policing, but over time the burdens have come to outweigh some of the benefits. For some years now ACPO have been pointing to the unintended yet unhelpful impact of top-down central targets. No two neighbourhoods are the same so we need local targets to reflect the local needs of that area. Successful policing looks different to everyone. If neighbourhood policing teams are to deliver for local people then they need the space to respond to local priorities, set by and with those they work to protect.[167]

There is also some professional scepticism about the effectiveness of the government's Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) A 2006 report by the Youth Justice Board said that many tackling youth offending doubted their effectiveness, and some teenagers saw them as glamorous; and another study revealed that of 137 young people given ASBOs, 67 had breached their order at least once, 42 more than once and six on six occasions or more[168][15]</ref>

There has been widespread concern about the human rights implications of the Labour government's anti-terror legislation, and in particular, the power to detain suspects for 28 days without trial and to issue control orders for the close supervision of suspects. The introduction of control orders[169] in the 2005 Control of Terrorism Act encountered strong parliamentary opposition at the time[170] on human rights grounds and the Liberal Democratic Party has since announced its commitment to their removal. A Parliamentary committee has drawn attention to a number of ways in which the Labour Government's crime prevention and anti terrorism measures had breached the European Convention on Human Rights[171], including those concerning secret evidence and detention of foreign terrorism suspects, the interception of communications and the retention of DNA profiles and cellular samples.

Immigration policy

A BBC survey in 2007 found that 72% of the 1,026 adults questioned felt that the Government was doing a poor job on immigration, and nearly two thirds of respondents thought that Britain would lose its unique identity if immigration continues at its present rate. More than half of those surveyed believed that immigration posed a threat to UK jobs[172]. The pressure group Migration Watch has claimed that:

Government have lost control over our borders during the past fifteen years. This has resulted in immigration on a scale that is placing huge strain on our public services, housing, environment, society and quality of life.[173]

Economic policy

The principal criticisms of the conduct of economic policy during Tony Blair's premiership were made after it was over, and concerned Gordon Brown's conduct of fiscal policy as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The budget deficit during his premiership did not rise above its level at the end of the previous Conservative administration, and attracted relatively little attention at the time. In retrospect, however the government's fiscal policy of the time has been accused of making insufficient allowance for the possibility of a severe recession, and its financial regulation policies have been held partly responsible for the Great Recession.

Criticisms of the Blair government's economic policy are discussed in more detail in the article on Gordon Brown.

Iraq war

The severest criticisms of Tony Blair's conduct as Prime Minister concern his decision to go to war in Iraq. He has been called "Bush's poodle"[174] and accused of lying to Parliament[175]; and there have been calls for his prosecution as a war criminal[176]. In 1993 the war was widely expected to lead to a humanitarian disaster[177], and the subsequent discovery that Saddam Hussein had already destroyed his weapons of mass destruction was taken to have removed all justification for the war. Criticism mounted when the military campaign was followed by protracted factional violence. He has been held to be partly responsible for the civilian suffering[178], and military casualties[179] of the Iraq war, and he has also been held partly responsible for the subsequent death of David Kelly[180].

Only 12 per cent of UK respondents to an opinion poll in 2010 considered the Iraq war to have been a success [181]

The criticisms, and Tony Blair's response to them, are further summarised on the addendum subpage.

Activities since 2007

Since leaving Downing Street, Tony Blair has served as the Quartet Representative to the Middle East.[182] In that rôle he has represented the United States of America, United Nations, Russia and the European Union, working with the Palestinians to prepare for statehood as part of the international community’s effort to secure peace. He has launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation[183] to promote respect and understanding of and between the major religions and to make the case for faith as a force for good in the modern world. He has also launched the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative[184], which helps African leaders to relieve poverty. He has also played a leading part in the Breaking the Climate Deadlock Initiative,[185] which is seeking a consensus among world leaders on international climate policy.


(References, with page numbers, to Tony Blair's memoirs (Tony Blair: A Journey, Hutchinson, 2010) are shown as "Journey (xxx)", and
references to Anthony Seldon's biography (Anthony Seldon: Blair, Free Press, 2004) are shown as "Blair (xxx)".)
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  2. Guardian Unlimited Politics: 'Ask Aristotle - Tony Blair' 27th July 2007.
  3. Blair (11)
  4. The Rev Peter Thomson: priest and mentor, The Times (obituary), February 18, 2010
  5. Journey (74)
  6. Blair (29-30)
  7. Blair (36)
  8. Blair (203)
  9. Blair (70)
  10. Mark Bevir: From Idealism to Communitarianism: The Inheritance and Legacy of John Macmurray, University of California, Berkeley, 2003
  11. Journey (90)
  12. Journey (43)
  13. Journey (85)
  14. Journey (68)
  15. Buckinghamshire County Council: 'Parliamentary constituencies and MPs - Buckinghamshire County'.
  16. Labour Party: 'Sedgefield constituency
  17. Blair (98-103)
  18. Blair (103)
  19. Blair (105-107)
  20. Journey (49)
  21. Journey (60)
  22. Journey (70-71)
  23. Journey (94)
  24. Journey (102)
  25. [Anthony Bevins and Barrie Clement: Blair says union split still on the cards, The Independent, 29 July 1997, [1]
  26. New Labour Because Britain Deserves Better", the Labour party manifesto, 1997
  27. [Jennifer Lees-Marshment: Political Marketing as Party Management - Thatcher in 1979 and Blair in 1997, National Europe Centre Paper No. 110, 2004
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  29. Geoffrey Evans, John Curtice and Pippa Norris: New Labour, New Tactical Voting? The Cause and Consequences of Tactical Voting in the 1997 British General Election, Working Paper No 64, Centre for Research into Elections and Social Trends, February 1998
  30. Blair (261)
  31. Oonagh Gay and Thomas Powell: The collective responsibility of Ministers an outline of the issues, House of Commons Research Paper 04/82, November 2004
  32. Ivor Jennings: Cabinet Government, Cambridge University Press, 1951
  33. Simon James British Cabinet Government, Routledge, 1999
  34. James Naughtie: Rivals, Chapter 5, Fourth Estate, 2002
  35. For a summary of that information see the addendum subpage of this article
  36. Blair (689)
  37. Blair (687)
  38. An Independent Review of Government Communications, (Chairman, Bob Phillis), Cabinet Office, 1974
  39. Blair (303)
  40. Blair (308)
  41. Martin Evans: Welfare to work and the organisation of opportunity, ESRC Research Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, 2001
  42. Dan Finn: Modernisation or Workfare? New Labour's Work-Based Welfare State, ESRC Labour Studies Seminar,28 March 2000
  43. Richard Beaudry: Workfare and Welfare: Britain’s New Deal, Working Paper Series # 2, The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, 2002
  44. Evaluation of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal – Final report, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2010
  45. The Social Exclusion Unit, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
  46. ["Opportunity for All: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion", Department for Social Security, 1999]
  47. "Opportunity for All, 7th annual report, Department of Work and Pensions, 2005
  48. Carl Emmerson Chronic underinvestment?, Institute for Fiscal Studies, June 2009
  49. July 1997: Brown Pledges Prudence, BBC 23 March 2010
  50. Journey (262,271, 338
  51. Journey (503)
  52. BBC News: 'Blair: In his own words' - BBC archive of quotes. 11th May 2007.
  53. Main provisions of the Education Act 2002, Teachernet, 2010
  54. The Teaching and Higher Education Bill [HL: The Teaching Profession, House of Commons Library, 13 March 1998]
  55. Higher Education Act 2004, The UK Statute Law Database
  56. Anthea Lipsett: What are academy schools?, Education Guardian, Tuesday 13 November 2007
  57. Education spending to reach £74bn, BBC News, 21 March 1997
  58. A Policy Framework for Commissioning Cancer Services, UK Department of Health 1995
  59. Howard Glennester: "The Health and Welfare Legacy" in Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh (eds): The Blair Effect, Cambridge University Press, 2005
  60. The new NHS: modern, dependable, Cm 3807, Department of Health, December 1997
  61. About NICE, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
  62. Interview with David Frost referred to in Journey (263)
  63. The NHS Plan, A plan for investment A plan for reform: A Summary, July 2000[2]
  64. A short guide to NHS foundation trusts, Department of Health, 1 November 2005
  65. Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, National Archives, 2010
  66. Crime and Disorder Act 1998, National Archives, 2010
  67. The Youth Justice Board, Community Care UK, 2008
  68. A Guide to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, Home Office, 2007
  69. Dominic Casciani: Asbos and orders: A glossary, BBC News 10 January 2006
  70. Science & innovation investment framework 2004 - 2014, HM Treasury, July 2004
  71. Competition Act 1998, Office of Fair Trading
  72. [Enterprise Act 2002, National Archives, 2010
  73. The History Place - Tony Blair's Speech, 26th November 1998 - the first British Prime Minister ever to address the Irish parliament.
  74. Journey (199)
  75. Journey (152)
  76. Journey (159)
  77. Journey (152-1999)
  78. Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997, UK National Archives, 2010
  79. Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations, UK Northern Ireland Office, 1998
  80. Welcome to the Northern Ireland Executive, 2007
  81. Journey (205)
  82. The"Social Charter"
  83. Lisbon Strategy, Euroactiv, 21 May 2007
  84. Journey (501)
  85. Blair (119)
  86. Blair (137)
  87. Anglo-Saxon versus European Social models of European economies - Argument by caricature?, Briefing prepared by the European Movement Senior Expert group, October 2005
  88. Blair (367-383)
  89. Newsweek: 'Partners in Politics' May 2007
  90. Peter Ridell: Hug Them Close, Politico's Publishing, 2003
  91. George W Bush: Decision Points, (as serialised in The Times, 10 November 2010
  92. Responsibility to Protect, Report of an International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, December 2001
  93. Jared Diamond: The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee p258, Vintage, 1991
  94. For example in Somalia
  95. Journey (248)
  96. Journey (229)
  97. Timeline: Siege of Srebrenica, BBC News, 9 June 2005[3]
  98. BBC News: 'Blair apologises for mishandling F1 row'. 17th November 1997
  99. See Operation Desert Fox
  100. Journey (267)
  101. The Nappy Factor, The Economist, May 18th 2000
  102. Homepage of the Scottish Parliament
  103. BBC News: 'Two referendums' June 1999
  104. The Welsh National Assembly.
  105. Julie Kim: Kosovo Conflict Chronology: September 1998 - March 1999, Congressional Research Service, ˜ The Library of Congress, 6 April 1999
  106. Journey (235)
  107. We must act - to save thousands of innocent men, women and children, Tony Blair's statement in the Commons Tuesday 23 March 1999
  108. Blair (403-5)
  109. Special report: Sierra Leone's civil war, BBC news 8 July, 1999
  110. Journey (247)
  111. Operations PALLISER & BARRAS (Sierra Leone),, February 16, 2010
  112. Campaign Against Terror, interview with Tony Blair, Frontline, 2002
  113. Security Council Resolution 1386, 2001
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