In British politics, the term Blairism refers to the political ideology of former leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister Tony Blair. It entered the New Penguin English Dictionary in 2000. Proponents of Blairism are referred to as Blairites.
Politically, Blair has been identified with record investment into public services, an interventionist and Atlanticist foreign policy, support for stronger law enforcement powers, a large focus on surveillance as a means to address terrorism and a large focus on education as a means to encourage social mobility. In the early years (circa 1994–1997), Blairism was also associated with support for European integration and particularly British participation in the European single currency, though this waned after Labour took office.
The term is used in particular in contrast to Brownite, to identify those within the Labour Party with a connection to, or identification with, Gordon Brown rather than Blair. However, with Blair and Brown typically in agreement on most political issues (from Iraq to public sector reform), commentators have noted that "the difference between Brownites and Blairites … is more tribal than ideological". This is believed to stem from a personal disagreement between Blair and Brown over who should have run for the leadership following the death of John Smith in 1994: though Brown was originally considered the senior of the two, he waited until after Smith's funeral to begin campaigning by which point Blair had gathered too much momentum to be beaten. However, in his book Whatever it Takes, Steve Richards offered an alternate view: that there were significant disagreements between the two about relative poverty, the level of public spending and the potential for choice in public services.
There has been a great deal of discussion in British politics about the Blairite legacy. This intensified after September 2006, when Blair announced his intention to resign within one year, and especially since May 2007, when he said he would resign as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007. While centrists such as Gordon Brown and David Cameron claim that Blairism is safe in their hands, critics on the left (e.g. John McDonnell) and right (e.g. Norman Tebbit) dispute its value to British society. Others have even speculated that, if the Blairite coalition is to be seen as essentially one of pro-market anti-Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats could even be its ultimate inheritors.
In a 1999 article, the news-magazine The Economist stated:
Mr Blair will doubtless do his duty and lavish praise on Labour's glorious past. But, in truth, Mr Blair has always displayed a marked ambivalence towards Labour history. His greatest achievement in opposition was to get the party to ditch its historic commitment to nationalisation, and to water down its traditional links with the unions. At times he has even hinted that the very foundation of the Labour Party was a mistake, since it divided "progressive" politics and led to a century dominated by the Conservatives. Mr Blair knows that all this makes many of his party faithful deeply uneasy.
Blair's tenure is known for an expansion of LGBT rights, such as the introduction of legal civil partnerships. Blair himself has told the LGBT organisation Stonewall that "what has happened is that the culture of the country has changed in a definable way" and that "it's a thing that doesn't just give me a lot of pride, but it has actually brought a lot of joy." Blair has also claimed to have got up off his seat and danced upon seeing the first partnership ceremonies on television.
Relationship to prior administrations
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The Daily Telegraph stated in April 2008 that Blair's programme, with its emphasis on 'New Labour', accepted the free-market ideology of Thatcherism. The article cited deregulation, privatisation of key national industries, maintaining a flexible labour market, marginalising the trade unions, and devolving government decision making to local authorities, as evidence.
In the BBC Four documentary film Tory! Tory! Tory!, Blair is described as personally admiring Thatcher deeply and making the decision that she would be the first outside person he formally invited to visit him in 10 Downing Street.
Previous Prime Minister John Major was one of the original figures behind the Northern Ireland peace process that Blair continued, and both of them campaigned in support of the Good Friday Agreement. However, Blair later snubbed Major by declining to invite him to a 2007 joint address to the House of Lords and House of Commons on the peace process.
Blair privately called Thatcher "unhinged", a description that later became public knowledge. Blair criticised the Thatcher government's record on poverty and made that a key issue for Labour economic policy. He made the goal to eradicate child poverty in Britain within 20 years based on the fact that one-third of British children were in poverty post-Thatcher compared to the 9% rate in 1979 (although these statistics are disputed).
Blair also abolished Section 28, and he created lot more pro-European initiatives compared to Thatcher. Blair was criticised by various Thatcherites such as John Redwood, Norman Tebbit and William Hague.
In his autobiography published in 2010, titled A Journey, Blair remarked:
In what caused much jarring and tutting within the party, I even decided to own up to supporting changes Margaret Thatcher had made. I knew the credibility of the whole New Labour project rested on accepting that much of what she wanted to do in the 1980s was inevitable, a consequence not of ideology but of social and economic change. The way she did it was often very ideological, sometimes unnecessarily so, but that didn't alter the basic fact: Britain needed the industrial and economic reforms of the Thatcher period.
Relationship to later administrations
Gordon Brown followed Blair as Prime Minister, after Brown's long tenure as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although viewed in the media as somewhat personally close, Blair later wrote in his autobiography A Journey that a "maddening" Brown effectively blackmailed him while he was in 10 Downing Street. Blair accused Brown of orchestrating the investigation into the cash-for-honours scandal and stated that the personal animosity was so strong that it led him to frequent drinking, a big change for Blair. Blair also has told journalist Andrew Marr that as their years working together went on, co-operation become "hard going on impossible".
As stated before, both men had similar positions on actual issues and government policies. To the extent that they felt divided, it came mostly from differences in personality, background, and managing style.
Other than Tony Blair himself, the following prominent Labour politicians are often considered Blairites, but may not identify themselves as such:
- Andrew Adonis – Former Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Economic Delivery and former Transport Secretary.
- Valerie Amos – Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, British High Commissioner to Australia and the first black woman to serve in the Cabinet.
- Hilary Armstrong – Former Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chief Whip.
- Hazel Blears – A former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
- David Blunkett – Former Home Secretary.
- Stephen Byers – A former Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and former MP.
- Ben Bradshaw – former Culture Secretary.
- Liam Byrne – Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.
- Charles Clarke – A former Home Secretary and former MP who lost his seat in the 2010 General Election.
- Charles Falconer – Former Lord Chancellor.
- Caroline Flint – Former Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
- Patricia Hewitt – Former Secretary of State for Health and former MP.
- Margaret Hodge – A former Minister for Culture and Tourism.
- Geoff Hoon – Former Secretary of State for Defence.
- Tristram Hunt – Shadow Secretary of State for Education and MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central.
- John Hutton – A former Secretary of State for Defence, Former MP and now head of a commission into public sector pensions for the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
- Dame Tessa Jowell – former Culture Secretary.
- Alan Johnson – Former Home Secretary.
- Sally Keeble – former MP for Northampton North.
- Ruth Kelly – A former cabinet minister and economist.
- Oona King – A former MP who lost her seat to George Galloway and the defeated candidate to be Labour's candidate for the Mayoralty of London.
- David Lammy – former Higher Education Minister and MP for Tottenham.
- Peter Mandelson – A former First Secretary of State and spin doctor.
- Alan Milburn – A former Secretary of State for Health, former MP and now Social Mobility Tsar under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
- David Miliband – A former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and a defeated leadership candidate.
- Estelle Morris – A former Secretary of State for Education and currently a peer.
- Sally Morgan - former director of Government Relations, Minister for Women and chair of Ofsted.
- Jim Murphy – Former Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
- James Purnell – Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and chairman of the IPPR.
- John Reid – Former Home Secretary.
- Jacqui Smith – A former Home Secretary and candidate to be BBC vice-chairman.
- Peter Hain, former Wales Secretary, was widely seen as a Blair loyalist  but he has moved leftwards by rejecting fiscal austerity and New Labour.
- Tom Harris - former MP.
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- How to bear Blair: become a Blairite Will Hutton, Guardian Unlimited – Comment is free, 21 June 2006
- Jack the Knife goes for the clearout kill Kirsty Milne, The Scotsman, 28 November 2001
- Will he? Won't he? Suzie Mackenzie, The Guardian, 25 September 2004
-  Nick Cohen, The Guardian, 03 October 2010
- Kennedy can still exploit this perfect political storm Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 26 April 2005
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- BBC Four, Tory! Tory! Tory!
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I think he was unhinged. That's the same word Tony Blair used of Margaret Thatcher. I think Tony Blair was a bit unhinged too. I think Margaret Thatcher had her unhinged moments.
- Tony Blair (2010). A Journey. Random House. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-307-37578-0.
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- "What happened to the Blairites?". BBC News Online. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
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- "Ben Bradshaw: Glad to be 'more Wagner than Wenger'". The Independent. 27 June 2009. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- "Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw defies Labour whip on economy vote". Western Morning News. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Wilkinson, Michael (24 July 2015). "Andy Burnham aide 'dismissing women' in Labour leadership sexism row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Steven Foster (2006). The Judiciary, Civil Liberties and Human Rights. Edinburgh University Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7486-2262-7.
- Thomson, Alice; Sylvester, Rachel (23 May 2009). "Caroline Flint defends Hazel Blears in expenses row". The Times. London. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- Waugh, Paul; Cecil, Nicholas (4 June 2009). "Loyalists urge PM to sack Flint amid fears she will quit". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
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- Curtis, Polly (10 June 2010). "Margaret Hodge named head of public accounts committee". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Young, Toby. "Well done Tristram Hunt. Chalk one up for the Hons!". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
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- Kennedy, Siobhan (25 September 2008). "Ruth Kelly: chequered career of the Blairite star who fell to earth". The Times. London. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- Leftly, Mark (16 May 2015). "Sadiq Khan wins Blairite Baroness Oona King's support in race to be London mayor". The Independent. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Barkham, Patrick (13 September 2007). "How Oona got her groove back". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
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- Daley, Janet (11 January 2009). "Return of the Blairites spells trouble for David Cameron". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- Routledge, Paul (13 November 2009). "Pompous Blairites like David Miliband and Peter Mandelson make me cringe". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "Estelle Morris: classroom to cabinet". BBC News. 8 June 2001.
- Hencke, David (4 June 2009). "Which cabinet ministers are supporting Gordon Brown?". The Guardian. London.
- Morris, Nigel (29 June 2007). "First woman at the Home Office: Jacqui Smith". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 January 2010. A more fluid approach is needed.
- "The Blairites and the Brownites". Daily Mail. London. 11 April 2006.