Tony Blair (1997-2007)

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The unpopularity of the Conservative leader John Major, in the wake of several scandals proved advantageous for Blair. In the 1997 general elections, the Labour Party achieved a sweeping victory over the Conservatives and on May 2, 1997, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

While attending as Prime Minister, Blair simultaneously assisted as the First Lord of the Treasury, the Minister for the Civil Service, the Leader of the Labour Party (until Gordon Brown was declared Labour leader on 24 June 2007), and a Member of Parliament for the electorate of Sedgefield in County Durham. He continues as a Privy Counsellor having first been chosen in July 1994 when he converted in Leader of the Opposition. Blair is the Labour Party’s longest-serving Prime Minister, and taking the leadership of the party to three successive general election triumphs, the only Labour prime minister to attend two full successive terms.

Blair is both attributed with and criticised for moving the Labour Party near the centre of British policy, using the term “New Labour” to differentiate his pro-market policies from the further communalist policies, which the party had espoused in the previous premierships. A great power of Tony Blair as a leader has been the aptitude to express a different vision.

As the new PM, he elevated the taxes, proclaimed minimum wages, executed new employment rights, presented new rights for the homosexuals and signed several articles in his search to merge Britain with the European Union.

At home, Blair had great motivations for constructing excellent public services, converting the constitution, decreasing disparity and confronting unruliness.

In health and educational sectors, he introduced innumerable reforms, revoked many categories of welfare payments, implemented stringent anti-terrorism measures and passed legislation regarding the issuance of identity cards to the citizens. He vested the police force with more power, which consequently increased the number of punishable offences, and he made DNA recording mandatory.

However, in the inauguration development, it was excruciatingly sluggish. In his first period (1997-2001), Blair engrossed on improving the constitution and presenting welfare reforms, which covered the way for diminutions in retiree and child poverty.

He also worked for the revival of the environment and while addressing the United States Congress assured about 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. He also stated that, by 2010 about 10% of the energy required by Britain would be obtained from renewable resources.

Nonetheless, by the period he began to proclaim these strategies, counting top-up charges for universities, foundation hospitals and city academies, his partisan resources was weakening and he had to impulse his schedule through in the expression of disagreement from his own party.

In his third term (2005-2007), shaved of the need to success another general election, he prolonged his strategies into new areas, counting nuclear energy, welfare, pensions reform, road estimating and greater individuality for schools and health.

In inland management policy, Blair considerably amplified public spending on health and education while also presenting debatable market-based changes in these areas. In addition, Blair’s occupation saw the introduction of tuition charges for higher education, legitimate reform such as delegation in Scotland and Wales, and advancement in the Northern Ireland peace process.

His government undertook several initiatives to reduce the level of poverty and increase the number of social services in Britain. Poverty declined to a great extent and the overall health conditions of the people also improved during his tenure. Nearly 1.7 million under-paid workers were benefitted from his minimum wage policy and over 2 million people were rescued from poverty.

The British economy performed well. Blair kept to Conservative commitments not to increase income tax in the first term although rates of Employee’s National Insurance (a payroll levy) were augmented. He also presided over a significant expansion of the welfare state during his time in office, which led to a significant decrease in poverty

On constitutional matters, devolution in Scotland and Wales has been successful, at least in the short term, though probably it has only fended off rather than excluded a more damaging nationalist challenge (at least in Scotland) to the United Kingdom’s integrity.

In addition, in Northern Ireland, though he did not begin the process, Blair’s negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement was the real start of major change for the better.

Many commentators thought both failures a blessing for Britain. Blair did, however, play a pivotal role in extending the membership of the EU from 15 to 27 states, and toiled hard to ensure free-market rather than dirigiste and federalist values prevailed.

Abroad, his “Gladstonian” or “Wilsonian” foreign policy inspired his major speech in Chicago in April 1999 in which he articulated the doctrine of the “international community”.

Blair used this approach to justify his intervention in the Kosovo crisis in 1999, when he urged a more aggressive military approach upon a reluctant American administration.

Blair strongly supported US foreign policy, notably by participating in the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Iraq, in particular, remains the most controversial aspect of Tony Blair’s premiership. The Iraq war forwent some of Tony Blair’s domestic authority, his time, and eventually detracted from his efforts to bring peace in the Arab Israeli conflict, to do more to eradicate poverty in Africa and to fight global warming.

Tony Blair has always alleged that Britain’s interests were best served by standing shoulder to shoulder with the American administration, despite the resulting disapproval at home and in Europe, and that any criticism of Washington should be made in reserved rather than in public.

Blair still trusts that it was right for Britain to support the Americans over Iraq, to remove a brutal tyrant who he considered a threat to his own people and danger to world peace.

However Blair’s domestic accomplishments are mediated, his place in history will be mainly shaped by the Iraq war. Iraq will continually stand out in bold red in the debt pillar of his period in office.

Due to the rising fatalities of British multitudes in the Iraq war, Blair’s approval dropped radically and he was accused of misleading Parliament. Also, the Labour party’s overall majority in the 2005 general election was concentrated to 66.

On 7 September 2006 Blair openly stated he would step down as party leader by the time of the TUC meeting in September 2007. On 10 May 2007 he announced his purpose to resign as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007.

Blair’s decade in office was noticeable by continuous economic growth and a more sovereign Bank of England. Blair also conserved much of Thatcher’s market ardor while handling to place greater weight on social justice. Numerous minority groups found his administration more sympathetic to their concerns—particularly gays, who by 2004 were permitted to enter into civil partnerships recognized by the law. Many believed, however, that Blair’s role in reestablishing peace to Northern Ireland would come to be seen as his most continuing political legacy. Blair showed an extraordinary ability to take confidence and vigor in the face of hardship caused not least by the disappointment in Iraq.

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