Blair ministry

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Blair ministry
88th Cabinet of the United Kingdom (since 1707)
1997 - 2007
Blair June 2007.jpg
Date formed 1 May 1997
Date dissolved 24 June 2007
People and organizations
Head of government Tony Blair
Deputy head of government John Prescott
Head of state Elizabeth II
Number of ministers 25 (in and attending cabinet)
Member party Labour Party
Opposition party Conservative Party
Opposition leader
History
Election(s)
Previous Major ministry
Successor Brown ministry

The Blair ministry was formed by Tony Blair in May 1997 after being invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government following the resignation of the previous Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, John Major as a result of the Labour Party victory in the 1997 General Election. He would serve as the Prime Minister for three successive parliamentary terms until the year 2007. His Cabinet was reshuffled for each new parliament along with a few minor changes during each term.

Formation[edit]

After 18 years in opposition, Labour ousted the Tories in the May 1997 election with a 179-seat majority. The Prime Minister Tony Blair, who turned 44 just days after leading Labour to power, was the youngest Prime Minister of the 20th century.

Blair quickly wiped away memories of the troubled Labour governments led by Harold Wilson and James Callaghan as the economic recovery continued and unemployment continued to fall. While other developed countries, notably Japan, were hit by a financial crisis during Blair's first term in office, Britain's economy remained strong.

In September 2000, however, protests against fuel prices intensified across the country and the new Tory leader William Hague exploited the situation by pointing out to voters just how much fuel prices had risen under Labour. This sparked a brief Tory lead in the opinion polls - the first in eight years - but once the protests and consequent fuel shortages ended, Labour led the opinion polls once more. Blair was so confident of re-election that he called a general election for 3 May, but this was postponed until 7 June due to the foot and mouth crisis. This led to a brief crisis in the agricultural and tourism industries, but did little to shake a still-strong economy and the voters responded by re-electing Blair with an only slightly reduced majority.

Tory leader William Hague, whose party barely improved on their disastrous election result of 1997, stepped down after the election and was succeeded by Iain Duncan Smith.

Following the financial crisis in Japan at the end of the 1990s, there was a brief recession in other parts of the developed world including Germany,[1] Italy and France in the early 2000s, but once again Britain avoided recession and continued to enjoy a strong economy and low unemployment.[2]

By the time the next general election was on the horizon, Blair and Labour were looking well positioned for a record third successive term in government. Unemployment remained low and the economy remained strong with more than a decade of unbroken growth, and education and healthcare had changed for the better as a result of expenditure by Labour.

However, the Labour government had attracted controversy by sending British troops to fight in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, and even more so when it joined the American-led invasion of Iraq 18 months later - particularly when it emerged that the ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's alleged nuclear weapons were never found and serious questions were raised about the issue of going to war. Although the dictatorship regimes in both of these countries were swiftly ended by British and American troops, the remaining British forces were not withdrawn from Iraq until 2009 and will not leave Afghanistan until the end of 2014.

Soon after the invasion of Iraq, Labour support in the opinion polls fell and the Tories actually drew level with them in at least one poll during 2003. However, this did little to end speculation about the future of their unpopular leader Iain Duncan Smith and in October 2003 he lost a vote of no confidence and was replaced by Michael Howard, who stood unopposed for the leadership role and took control without a leadership contest.

The election on 5 May 2005 saw Labour win their historic third successive term in power, though their majority now stood at 66 seats - compared to 167 four years earlier - and they failed to gain any new seats. Blair had already declared that the new term in parliament would be his last.

Fate[edit]

Blair remained as Prime Minister and Labour Party leader for a further two years, stepping down on 24 June 2007 and being succeeded by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

By this stage, Labour's days in government were starting to look numbered. Initially it seemed that Blair's decision to step down as the Labour Party leader was a tactical move to help boost Labour's chances of a fourth successive election win but it soon transpired that through a coup conducted by rebel Labour MP's and members, he had been given no choice but to stand down as leader. His authority had been called into question and he had been checkmated. David Cameron had been elected to the Tory leadership in December 2005, and since then the opinion polls had shown Labour lose the lead to the Tories and regain it several times.

Cabinets[edit]

These are the cabinets under Prime Minister Tony Blair (from May 1997 to June 2007).

May 1997 to June 2001[edit]

Also attending Cabinet:

Changes[edit]

June 2001 to May 2005[edit]

Also attending Cabinet:

Changes[edit]

May 2005 to June 2007[edit]

Also attending Cabinet:

Changes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Germany's recession ends". BBC News. 23 May 2002. 
  2. ^ "French economy in trouble". BBC News. 20 August 2003. 
General
  • D. Butler and G. Butler (ed.). Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900–2000. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Major ministry
Government of the United Kingdom
1997-2007
Succeeded by
Brown ministry