Tony Blair

On May 6, 2005, Tony Blair made UK history by becoming the first Labour leader to win a third successive term. The charismatic politician brought 18 years of Conservative rule to an end in 1997, when – aged 43 – he became the youngest British prime minister since 1812.

Born on May 6, 1953, in Edinburgh, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was the second son of Leo Blair – a tax inspector-turned lecturer, and Hazel, a housewife. He spent the first 19 months of his life in the Willowbrae area of Edinburgh before the family moved to Adelaide in Australia. They stayed there for three years before returning to England, where they set up home in Durham.

Tony was educated at the cathedral city's Chorister School before he was sent to Edinburgh's prestigious independent boarding school Fettes College. During his time there he apparently did little to win over his teachers and reportedly modelled himself on Mick Jagger. The story goes that he was even arrested at one point after being mistaken for a burglar as he climbed into his dormitory using a ladder following a night out.

After he left school the youngster spent a year in London, where he tried to establish himself as a rock promoter. Music was one of his passions – as a student he also played guitar in a band called Ugly Rumours.

He gave up on his music career, however, instead studying law at Oxford.

During his time at university Tony's mum Hazel died and her loss affected him deeply. Meanwhile his interest in left-wing politics and a deep concern for religious faith was awakened by a fellow student, Peter Thompson.

In 1975, after enrolling as a barrister, the boyish faced lawyer met Cherie Booth, daughter of actor Tony Booth and a fellow barrister. They were married five years later. A highly successful lawyer and member of Queen's Counsel, Cherie was the first full-time working wife to live at Number 10.

He joined the Labour Party in the mid Seventies, but his involvement in the party led to a growing disillusion with some of its key policies and structures, leaving him determined to revolutionise left-wing politics.

Tony spent the Eighties working his way up through the ranks of the Labour Party, a career curve which led to him being elected its leader in July 1994, following the death of John Smith.

When he moved his family into Downing Street after Labour won the general election in May 1997, ousting then-leader John Major with an overwhelming majority, it brought to an end 18 years of Conservative dominance. And with Tony at the helm, the Labour Party took on a radically different image. The term New Labour was coined, and the party's leader and his wife revelled in the "Cool Britannia" of the late-Nineties a stance reflected in the party's courting of hip, young stars of the British entertainment industry.

Tony and Cherie have four children. The eldest, Euan, born in 1984, has proved a bit of a rebel, ending up in court for being "drunk and incapable". Second son Nicky was born in 1986 and a daughter, Kathryn, was born in 1988. The youngest member of the prime minister's family was a surprise arrival. In November 1999 it was announced that 45-year-old Cherie was pregnant with her fourth child, Leo, who arrived in May 2000. He was the first child born to a serving prime minister in over 150 years.

After ten years in office, Tony stepped down as prime minister - handing over power to Gordon Brown on June 27, 2007. He took on a job as Middle East envoy for the United Nations, and three years later publicly offered his support to Gordon's 2010 election campaign - despite well-documented tensions between the two men when they were working together in government.

More light was shed on their tumultuous working relationship with the publication of his autobiography, The Journey, later that year. In the tome, which became book store Waterstone's fastest-selling autobiography ever on its first day of release, he calls Gordon brilliant but "maddening", and says: "[He had] political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero".

He also sparked controversy when he announced that all proceeds from sales would be donated to the British Legion. Though many hailed his pledge as hugely generous, detractors claimed that the move was just intended to "ease his conscience" over leading the country into war with Iraq and dismissed the gesture as nothing more than a "PR stunt".
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