Essay for "A Very British Challenge"
| Essay on a British Prime Minister for "A Very British Challenge"
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, better known to the world as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was born May 6, 1953. He served as prime minister between 1997 and 2007. Even before his taking office, he stirred controversy as the Labor Party Leader who was breaking with traditional socialism and working toward what he called "social-ism" which embraced equal opportunity and social equality.
After losing four straight elections, the Labor Party was due for change and Tony Blair brought that change. Public opinion swelled and in 1997 the Labor Party won by the largest landslide in history, electing Tony Blair, then forty-three, to be the youngest prime minister in nearly 200 years. Under Tony Blair's direction, the Labor Party continued to win elections in 2001 and again in 2005.
Tony Blair's service to the United Kingdom was peppered with numerous highs and lows from introducing the National Minimum Wage Act and the Human Rights Act to the death of Princess Diana and the War on Terror. Tony Blair held the office of prime minister longer than any other prime minister in UK history. Upon his resignation, he was also the first person in modern history to not publish a list of Resignation Honors or a list of people who would be given honorary titles by the Queen at his request.
Prior to the National Minimum Wage Act of 1998, Britain didn't have a minimum wage. Under stronger unions, this had not been so much of a problem, but with union losing memberships, hourly workers were at risk. He introduced and helped pass a law that not only established a minimum wage for the first time, but one that had tiers according to the employees age to help ensure that workers could at least minimally support themselves and their families as they grew older.
Tony Blair wasn't afraid to speak his mind, popular or not. Twice, once in 1997 and again in 2003 he visited the United States and spoke on climate change, not so indirectly accusing the U.S. of not doing enough to protect against climate change. He and the Labor Party promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by 20% and by 2010 have renewable energy sources for 10% of their energy. At 7%, they fell a bit short, but they put forth great efforts to achieve this.
The primary reason I selected to write this essay on Tony Blair was his staunch support of the United States and George W. Bush after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. In President Bush's "Post 9/11" speech, he stated, "America has no truer friend than Great Britain." Unfortunately, this was one of the reasons that Tony Blair's popularity, which had once reached 93%, dropped to the point that he felt he should resign by 2007.
After his resignation, Tony Blair became more active in philanthropy. He started several charities, the first of which was in 2007, the Tony Blair Sports Foundation whose goal was to "increase childhood participation in sports activities, especially in the North East of England, where a larger proportion of children are socially excluded, and to promote overall health and prevent childhood obesity." In 2008, he started the Tony Blair Faith Foundation whose mission statement said, ""The Foundation will use its profile and resources to encourage people of faith to work together more closely to tackle global poverty and conflict." In 2009, he started the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative whose mantra was "effective government changes lives."
Tony Blair is married to Cherie Booth. They married March 29, 1980. Raised a Protestant Christian, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 2007. He has four children, Euan, Nicholas, Kathryn, and Leo. Leo was the first legitimate child born to a UK Prime Minister while in office in over 150 years.
Because of their roles in the Iraq War, both Tony Blair and George W. Bush have been accused of war crimes by several influential people around the world, including Bishop Desmond Tutu. In 2011, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, a mock war-crimes tribunal, met and unanimously voted that the two were guilty of crimes against peace, genocide, as well as crimes against humanity.
Tony Blair has had a long and illustrious career, making changes to the Labor Party's views and to the United Kingdom as a whole. He continues to serve his nation and the world in various capacities, always guiding with his heart and his God. This is what brought him to his support of the United States and why I have so much respect for him. God bless Tony Blair!