"He was the future, once..."
— David Cameron
on Blair during their first exchange in Prime Ministerial Questions
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997-2007. Perhaps unusually, Mr. Blair wasn't from the South but in fact started out in Scotland
(he was born in Edinburghnote
) and was educated in the English North
and Scotland. He became the Labour Party MP for Sedgefield (also Oop North
) and party leader in 1994. In 1997, he steamrollered John Major
's Conservatives and won Labour's first election victory in 18 years.
Despite criticism (most notably for shifting the Labour party massively to the right and for invading Iraq), he captained Labour through three consecutive victories and left by own choice in 2007 after seeing off four opposition leaders before handing over to the Chancellor
. It goes without saying the switch from Captain Charisma to No-Flash Gordon has fuelled several jokes. Blair currently acts as a UN Peace Envoy to the Middle East, something that confuses just about everyone
. His premiership also saw a military intervention which ended the Sierra Leone Civil War - and, to this day, Sierra Leone is just about the only country with an unequivocally positive view of him. (Kosovo
is the other, due to his staunch support for the 1999 NATO intervention.)
His enduring legacy was to reinvent the traditionally blue-collar Labour Party into "New Labour", with middle-class cubicle monkeys as his base. Purists criticized him for this, but Blair was merely a product of his time. His soothing TV manner and propensity to dodge hard issues made him more reminiscent of an American President than PM
— a trend that continues with David Cameron
, and made life quite difficult for Gordon Brown
Not afraid of media, Blair played himself in The Simpsons
and a sketch with Catherine Tate
. Likely the only Prime Minister to have said "Am I bovvered?"
In British Media he tends to get portrayed either as a lapdog
of George W. Bush
, as the Straight Man
to Bush's Red Oni
, or as an insincere spin master. He had a habit, especially towards the end of his tenure, of pausing...at the end of every sentence as if trying to make it easier, to cut out sound bites. The apex/nadir of his talking in slogans surely came in Northern Ireland, where he said "This is not the time for soundbites, but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder.
" It got so pronounced that Have I Got News for You
once played a minute long speech by Tony, then played it again with "The extraneous material" removed, which is to say they played 25 seconds of silence.
Early on in his premiership, Blair was noted for the election catchphrases "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime
" and "we have three priorities: education, education and education
". These were widely parodied, madlibs-style
, in the media and to some extent have entered the British lexicon. He was also noted for his Controversy-Proof Image
, with scandals affecting his government seeming not to dent his own popularity (hence the nickname "Teflon Tony"). This made it all the bigger a contrast when the Iraq war became the one issue he could never walk away from.
Tony Blair in Fiction