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Tony Blair

Tony Blair was born 6 May 1953 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was educated at the Durham Choristers School in Durham, England and at Fettes College in Edinburgh.

He received a law degree in 1975 from St. John’s College at Oxford University and began practising law the next year after being admitted to the bar.

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Blair first ran for Parliament as a Labour Party candidate in 1982, when he lost a by-election for the Beaconsfield constituency.

He joined the House of Commons the following year, winning the seat from Sedgefield, in Northern England. Blair held that seat through the 1980s and 1990s, easily winning parliamentary elections during a political era mostly dominated by the Conservative Party.

After serving as a Labour Party spokesman on treasury matters, and then on trade and industry affairs, Blair was appointed shadow energy secretary in 1988. He was named shadow employment secretary in 1989 and shadow home secretary in 1992. The party elected him to its National Executive Committee in 1992.

The Labour Party elected Blair as its leader in 1994. Blair, then 41 years old, was the youngest-ever head of the Labour Party. He replaced John Smith, who had died earlier in the year after leading the party for two years.

As Labour Party leader, Blair continued efforts by his most recent predecessors, Smith and Neil Kinnock, to scale back the party’s traditional adherence to socialist ideology.

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He led a controversial campaign to remove from the party’s constitution a clause that called for common ownership, by British workers, of the country’s “means of production.” The party in 1995 adopted a new charter that omitted the clause.

Blair frequently referred to his party as “New Labour” in an effort to distance it from recent criticisms of Labour members of Parliament. (The party had widely been dismissed as a bastion of political extremism and incompetence.)

In a rejection of traditional Labour fiscal policy, Blair advocated low taxes and tightly limited social spending. He called on the party to loosen its links to trade unions and to work with the business community to solve labour disputes. He also softened the party’s hard-line stance against the privatisation of state-owned industries.

Blair’s political centrism, along with his youthful, energetic speaking style, was credited with contributing to the Labour Party’s steadily climbing popular support.

Blair married Cherie Booth, a fellow trial lawyer, in 1980. They had three children together.

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