Daniel Blair

Daniel Blair


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Daniel Blair was born in Parkhead, Glasgow on 2nd February 1906. After studying agriculture in Ireland he moved to North America. A talented footballer, Blair played for Toronto, Rhode Island and Providence before joining Clyde in April 1925.

Blair won his first international cap for Scotland against Wales on 27th October, 1928. Hughie Gallacher scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory. This speedy full-back went on to play against Northern Ireland (7-3), England (2-0), Northern Ireland (3-1) and Wales (3-2).

In November 1931 Aston Villa paid £7,000 for the services of Blair. In his first season Villa finished in 5th place in the First Division. The following season the club finished runners-up to Arsenal.

Blair won his sixth and last international cap for Scotland against Wales on 26th October 1932. Scotland lost the game 5-2.

Aston Villa was relegated from the First Division at the end of the 1935-36 season. At the end of the season Blair joined Blackpool. He played 121 games for the club before the outbreak of the Second World War. After the war Blair worked as a football coach and market gardner.

Daniel Blair died in Blackpool in 1976.


Daniel Blair - History

The Ancestors of Samuel Blair are:

Gr. Gr. Grandparents: Brice Blair (1600-?) and Esther Peden

Gr. Grandparents: Daniel Blair (1634-1704) and Ganet Drummond

Grandparents: Samuel Blair (1667-1754) and Martha Campbell Lyle

Parents: Daniel Blair (1720-1808) and Margaret McCullough

Samuel's brother Daniel who married Jenny Locke was the father of Patrick Blair and share the same ancestry.

Brice Blair and Esther Peden

Brice Blair was born about 1600 in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. In 1624, he married Esther Peden. Esther was the aunt of the much celebrated and persecuted Covenanter, Alexander Peden. Alexander was also known as the "Prophet Peden." Their is a monument honoring him in his native town of Old Cumnock, Scotland..

In 1625, Brice and Esther, also Covenanters, and their infant daughter, Nancy, escaped the persecution that Covenanters were experiencing in Scotland by emigrating to the north of Ireland. They made their escape in a coal sloop and reached Larne on the Irish Coast. (see: Why did our ancestors emigrate to Ireland?) When they arrived in Ireland, Brice made his way to an influential kinsmen, Lord Edmonstone at Redhall (near Carrickfergus), and the Reverand Edward Brice at Ballycarry. Reverand Brice was one of the pioneer clergymen of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and is believed (but not proven) to be a first cousin of Brice Blair. The Rev. and Brice are thought to be grandsons of Bruce the Laird of Ayth in Stirlingshire and were descended from Mary, the second daughter of Bruce the Third King of Scotland. Thus this line of Blair's may carry the blue blood of the Royal Stuarts in their veins.

From Lord Edmonstone, Brice obtained four hundred acres of land in Ballyvallough where he built a home and passed the remainder of his life. This land is situated a few miles west of Larne and not far from the village of Raloo. A part of it was still in possession of a descendant as late as 1900. Near his home, Brice Blair built a flax mill, one of the first, if not the first, in Ireland. The ruins of the home and mill were still distinguishable in 1900.

Because of Brice and Esther's move from Scotland to the north of Ireland their descen-dants became known as Ulster Scots in Ireland. In America they are referred to as Scotch-Irish. This does not mean, as many presume, that the Scots intermarried with the Irish for the Irish abhorred the Scots who had usurped their lands. Their descendants remained "Scotch through and through, they are Scottish out and out."

The children of Brice and Esther were:

1. NANCIE (1624-1691) who married PATRICK CRAWFORD and had one known child: John Crawford.
2. BRICE (1627-)who married JANE REA and lived in Magheramorne, N. Ireland. Brice and Jane had three known children: Brice, Elizabeth and Randal.
3. ABRAM (1628-) who never married.
4. DANIEL (1634-1704) who married GANET DRUMMOND and had eight children. (see next generation)
5. JOHN (c.1637-) who married ELIZABETH SHAW and had one child, John was an agent of the Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnawe in 1654. The son, James Blair, was the James Blair of the Blairmount Estate.
6. RANDAL Blair.(c.1640-)

The following is a deposition regarding Nancie (Blair) Crawford, daughter of Brice and Esther Blair, after the Massacre of 1641.

"On Sunday morning the 23rd of October 1641 the woman went out leaving her infant son with her servant girl named Bridget McMurdagh who belonged to Gleno of Raloo. When Mrs. Crawford returned to the house, this girl was crying and hushing the babe. Her mistress asked what was the matter? At length she cried 'flee for your lifes for Raloo will be burned at 12 o'clock!' Where shall we go asked the frightened woman? Get your horses ready and ride to Carrickfergus Castle where the army will guard you, said the noble girl. I could not bear to see you my kind mistress and the rest burned to death. I will be quite safe in the village at Crosshill where I was warned to go."

When the Crawfords were but clear of Raloo it was in flames. When some of the burners were hanged and order restored the Crawfords returned to their burnt house. The Catholic servant girl returned to them and died in her grateful mistress' arms years later.

Nancie passed through the dreadful massacre, and by her cleverness saved the lives of seventeen families who would have been burned to death by the Catholic natives. Many over the years have made pilgrimages of thanks to her grave in Raloo cemetery.

Second Generation

DANIEL BLAIR, #4 of generation above, was born in northern Ireland in 1634 and married GANET DRUMMOND. Daniel died January 5, 1704. His wife Ganet died May 1, 1704. Daniel and Ganet had eight children as follows:

1. SAMSON. Samson was a soldier in the Army of King James. He fought at the siege of Derry and in the Battle of the Boyne, 1689-90-92. Samson was wounded at Aughrim. On the defeat of King James, he went into hiding and refused offers of a pardon he believed insincere. About 1700, he was smuggled aboard a brig dressed as a woman named "Sally" and made it to safety in Philadelphia but was never heard of again.
2. SAMUEL. (see next generation)
3. NANCY.
4. PHOEBE married JOHN MCNEILLY (may be incorrect)
5. JOHN. born 1670 and went to America about 1700.
6. JENNY. Married SAMUEL BRYSON and had many descendants near Belfast, Carmoney and Ballyclare.
7. ELIZABETH. Married DAVID HILL. They had children who emigrated to America.
8. JAMES. Married MARTHA RANKIN. One of their daughters married a MR. BRECKINRIDGE and went to America about 1740.

SAMUEL BLAIR was born in 1667 and married MARTHA CAMPBELL LYLE who was born in 1695 and died May 2, 1729. Samuel's second marriage was to ANN GRAHAM. Samuel owned 400 acres of freehold land. When he first married, he built a home by the waterside near the flax mill built by his grandfather, Brice. He later abandoned it for a better home he built nearby on higher ground. This later house was still in good condition, even though much altered, as late as 1900. In the first house, his daughter Esther was born. She was living in the other house when she married Matthew Lyle in 1731. The ruins of the first house remain and mark her birthplace. Six of Samuel's children came to America about 1735. Samuel died March 20, 1754 at the age of 87. He is buried in the Raloo cemetery. The Blair Coat of Arms is on his tombstone: on a saltire five mascles, in the chief a mullet, in the base a garb, in the flanks each an increscent all within a tressure. Crest: a stag courant. Motto: Amos Probos (I Love the Virtuous). Samuel and Martha had nine children as follows:

1. WILLIAM. Born about 1715, he married MARY REA and died May 26, 1788. Buried in Raloo cemetery.
2. NANCY. Married DAVID ROBINSON, born about 1683 and died May 22, 1765. Several of her sons were Hearts of Steel boys and fled from Ireland to America. They settled in Pennsylvania. Nancy lived to exceed 100 years of age.
3. ESTHER. Born about 1712, married MATTHEW LYLE on September 18, 1731. Matthew was born in 1711 and died 1774 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. "The Lyle Genealogy" by Oscar Lyle deals mainly with the descendants of this family.
4. SAMUEL. (confusion abounds on who this is)
5. JAMES. (more confusion)
6. MARY. Married December 27, 1735 in Larne, County Antrim, n. Ireland to DAVID LYLE. They probably went to South Carolina?
7. JOHN. (yet more confusion)
8. MARTHA. Born about 1721 in n. Ireland and married JOHN PAXTON in 1742 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. John Paxton was a Captain in the military and died February 13, 1787 in Lexington, Augusta County, Virginia. Martha died August 12, 1821 at the same place. Martha is said to be the Grandmother of GEN. SAMUEL HOUSTON.
9. DANIEL. (see the next generation).

DANIEL BLAIR was born in 1720 and died in 1808, he is buried in Raloo Cemetery. He married MARGARET MCCULLOUGH and had five children as follows:

1. PATRICK. born 1745/1751. Married JEAN BURNS who was born 1759/1765. Patrick died in Ireland in 1826. They had two children
A. NANCY
B. SAMUEL: Samuel married ESTHER CRAWFORD and they were the parents of NANCY (BLAIR) KNOX and seven other children. Home of Sam & Esther Grave of Sam & Esther Letter written by Samuel-1848.
2. SAMUEL "The Renegade".
3. MARY. May be the same person as Margaret below.
4. MARGARET. Married BRICE MCNEELY. Either this Margaret or the Mary above is the twin sister of Samuel and the subject of the "Farewell to Erin" story. Brice is said to have fled Ireland with or at the same time as "Renegade" Sam. They were living in Pittsburgh at the time of her father's death in 1808.
5. DANIEL. Born about 1749 he married Jenny Locke and had the following children: PATRICK, DANIEL and NANCY.

* The bulk of the above information is taken from the book "Lyle Family, The Ancestry and Posterity of Matthew, John, Daniel and Samuel Lyle, Pioneer Settles in Virginia by Oscar K. Lyle, (Brooklyn, N. Y.: Lecouver Press Co., 51 Vesey Street, New York City: 1912).


Contents

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was born at Queen Mary Maternity Home in Edinburgh, Scotland, [1] on 6 May 1953. [2] [3] He was the second son of Leo and Hazel ( née Corscadden) Blair. [4] Leo Blair was the illegitimate son of two entertainers and was adopted as a baby by Glasgow shipyard worker James Blair and his wife, Mary. [5] Hazel Corscadden was the daughter of George Corscadden, a butcher and Orangeman who moved to Glasgow in 1916. In 1923, he returned to (and later died in) Ballyshannon, County Donegal. In Ballyshannon, Corscadden's wife, Sarah Margaret (née Lipsett), gave birth above the family's grocery shop to Blair's mother, Hazel. [6] [7]

Blair has an older brother, Sir William Blair, a High Court judge, and a younger sister, Sarah. Blair's first home was with his family at Paisley Terrace in the Willowbrae area of Edinburgh. During this period, his father worked as a junior tax inspector whilst also studying for a law degree from the University of Edinburgh. [1]

Blair's first relocation was when he was nineteen months old. At the end of 1954, Blair's parents and their two sons moved from Paisley Terrace to Adelaide, South Australia. [8] His father lectured in law at the University of Adelaide. [9] It was when in Australia that Blair's sister Sarah was born. The Blairs lived in the suburb of Dulwich close to the university. The family returned to the United Kingdom in the summer of 1958. They lived for a time with Hazel's mother and stepfather (William McClay) at their home in Stepps on the outskirts of north-east Glasgow. Blair's father accepted a job as a lecturer at Durham University, and thus moved the family to Durham, England. Aged five, this marked the beginning of a long association Blair was to have with Durham. [8]

Since his childhood, Tony Blair has been a fan of Newcastle United football club. [10] [11] [12]

With his parents basing their family in Durham, Blair attended the Chorister School from 1961 to 1966. [13] Aged 13, he was sent to spend his school term-time boarding at Fettes College in Edinburgh from 1966 to 1971. [14] Blair is reported to have hated his time at Fettes. [15] His teachers were unimpressed with him his biographer, John Rentoul, reported that "All the teachers I spoke to when researching the book said he was a complete pain in the backside and they were very glad to see the back of him." [14] Blair reportedly modelled himself on Mick Jagger, lead singer of The Rolling Stones. [16] During his time there he met Charlie Falconer (a pupil at the rival Edinburgh Academy), whom he later appointed Lord Chancellor.

Leaving Fettes College at the age of 18, Blair next spent a gap year in London attempting to find fame as a rock music promoter. [17]

In 1972, at the age of 19, Blair matriculated at St John's College, Oxford, reading Jurisprudence for three years. [18] As a student, he played guitar and sang in a rock band called Ugly Rumours, [19] and performed some stand-up comedy, including parodying James T. Kirk as a character named Captain Kink. [20] He was influenced by fellow student and Anglican priest Peter Thomson, who awakened his religious faith and left-wing politics. While at Oxford, Blair has stated that he was briefly a Trotskyist, after reading the first volume of Isaac Deutscher's biography of Leon Trotsky, which was "like a light going on". [21] [22] He graduated from Oxford at the age of 22 in 1975 with a second-class Honours B.A. in Jurisprudence. [23] [24]

In 1975, while Blair was at Oxford, his mother Hazel died aged 52 of thyroid cancer, which greatly affected him. [25]

After Oxford, Blair then became a member of Lincoln's Inn and was called to the Bar and became a pupil barrister. He met his future wife, Cherie Booth (daughter of the actor Tony Booth) at the chambers founded by Derry Irvine (who was to be Blair's first Lord Chancellor), 11 King's Bench Walk Chambers. [26]

Blair joined the Labour Party shortly after graduating from Oxford in 1975. In the early 1980s, he was involved in Labour politics in Hackney South and Shoreditch, where he aligned himself with the "soft left" of the party. He put himself forward as a candidate for the Hackney council elections of 1982 in Queensbridge ward, a safe Labour area, but was not selected. [27]

In 1982, Blair was selected as the Labour Party candidate for the safe Conservative seat of Beaconsfield, where there was a forthcoming by-election. [28] Although Blair lost the Beaconsfield by-election and Labour's share of the vote fell by 10 percentage points, he acquired a profile within the party. [ citation needed ] Despite his defeat, William Russell, political correspondent for The Glasgow Herald, described Blair as "a very good candidate", while acknowledging that the result was "a disaster" for the Labour Party. [29] In contrast to his later centrism, Blair made it clear in a letter he wrote to Labour leader Michael Foot in July 1982 (published in 2006) that he had "come to Socialism through Marxism" and considered himself on the left. [30] Like Tony Benn, Blair believed that "Labour right" was bankrupt: [31] "Socialism ultimately must appeal to the better minds of the people. You cannot do that if you are tainted overmuch with a pragmatic period in power." [30] [31] Yet, he saw the hard left as no better, saying:

There is an arrogance and self-righteousness about many of the groups on the far left which is deeply unattractive to the ordinary would-be member . There's too much mixing only with people [with] whom they agree. [30] [31]

With a general election due, Blair had not been selected as a candidate anywhere. He was invited to stand again in Beaconsfield, and was initially inclined to agree but was advised by his head of chambers Derry Irvine to find somewhere else which might be winnable. [32] The situation was complicated by the fact that Labour was fighting a legal action against planned boundary changes, and had selected candidates on the basis of previous boundaries. When the legal challenge failed, the party had to rerun all selections on the new boundaries most were based on existing seats, but unusually in County Durham a new Sedgefield constituency had been created out of Labour-voting areas which had no obvious predecessor seat. [33]

The selection for Sedgefield did not begin until after the 1983 general election was called. Blair's initial inquiries discovered that the left was trying to arrange the selection for Les Huckfield, sitting MP for Nuneaton who was trying elsewhere several sitting MPs displaced by boundary changes were also interested in it. When he discovered the Trimdon branch had not yet made a nomination, Blair visited them and won the support of the branch secretary John Burton, and with Burton's help was nominated by the branch. At the last minute, he was added to the shortlist and won the selection over Huckfield. It was the last candidate selection made by Labour before the election, and was made after the Labour Party had issued biographies of all its candidates ("Labour's Election Who's Who"). [34]

John Burton became Blair's election agent and one of his most trusted and longest-standing allies. [35] Blair's election literature in the 1983 general election endorsed left-wing policies that Labour advocated in the early 1980s. [ citation needed ] He called for Britain to leave the EEC [36] as early as the 1970s, [37] though he had told his selection conference that he personally favoured continuing membership [ citation needed ] and voted "Yes" in the 1975 referendum on the subject. He opposed the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1986 but supported the ERM by 1989. [38] He was a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, despite never strongly being in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament. [39] Blair was helped on the campaign trail by soap opera actress Pat Phoenix, his father-in-law's girlfriend. At the age of thirty, he was elected as MP for Sedgefield in 1983 despite the party's landslide defeat at the general election. [ citation needed ]

In his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 6 July 1983, Blair stated, "I am a socialist not through reading a textbook that has caught my intellectual fancy, nor through unthinking tradition, but because I believe that, at its best, socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral. It stands for cooperation, not confrontation for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality." [40]

Once elected, Blair's political ascent was rapid. He received his first front-bench appointment in 1984 as assistant Treasury spokesman. In May 1985, he appeared on BBC's Question Time, arguing that the Conservative Government's Public Order White Paper was a threat to civil liberties. [41]

Blair demanded an inquiry into the Bank of England's decision to rescue the collapsed Johnson Matthey bank in October 1985. By this time, Blair was aligned with the reforming tendencies in the party (headed by leader Neil Kinnock) and was promoted after the 1987 election to the Shadow Trade and Industry team as spokesman on the City of London. [ citation needed ]

Leadership roles

In 1987, he stood for election to the Shadow Cabinet, receiving 71 votes. [42] When Kinnock resigned after a fourth consecutive Conservative victory in the 1992 general election, Blair became shadow home secretary under John Smith. The old guard argued that trends showed they were regaining strength under Smith's strong leadership. Meanwhile, the breakaway SDP faction had merged with the Liberal Party the resulting Liberal Democrats seemed to pose a major threat to the Labour base. Blair, the leader of the modernising faction, had an entirely different vision, arguing that the long-term trends had to be reversed. The Labour Party was too locked into a base that was shrinking, since it was based on the working-class, on trade unions, and on residents of subsidised council housing. The rapidly growing middle-class was largely ignored, especially the more ambitious working-class families. They aspired to middle-class status but accepted the Conservative argument that Labour was holding ambitious people back with its levelling-down policies. They increasingly saw Labour in terms defined by the opposition, regarding higher taxes and higher interest rates. The steps towards what would become New Labour were procedural but essential. Calling on the slogan "One member, one vote", John Smith (with limited input from Blair) secured an end to the trade union block vote for Westminster candidate selection at the 1993 conference. [43] But Blair and the modernisers wanted Smith to go further still, and called for radical adjustment of Party goals by repealing "Clause IV," the historic commitment to nationalisation of industry. This would be achieved in 1995. [44]

Leader of the Opposition

John Smith died suddenly in 1994 of a heart attack. Blair defeated John Prescott and Margaret Beckett in the subsequent leadership election and became Leader of the Opposition. [45] As is customary for the holder of that office, Blair was appointed a Privy Councillor. [46]

Blair announced at the end of his speech at the 1994 Labour Party conference that he intended to replace Clause IV of the party's constitution with a new statement of aims and values. [45] This involved the deletion of the party's stated commitment to "the common ownership of the means of production and exchange", which was widely interpreted as referring to wholesale nationalisation. [45] [47] At a special conference in April 1995, the clause was replaced by a statement that the party is "democratic socialist", [47] [48] [49] and Blair also claimed to be a "democratic socialist" himself in the same year. [50] However, the move away from nationalisation in the old Clause IV made many on the left-wing of the Labour Party feel that Labour was moving away from traditional socialist principles of nationalisation set out in 1918, and was seen by them as part of a shift of the party towards "New Labour". [51]

He inherited the Labour leadership at a time when the party was ascendant over the Conservatives in the opinion polls, since the Conservative government's reputation for monetary excellence record was left in tatters by the Black Wednesday economic disaster of September 1992. Blair's election as leader saw Labour support surge higher still [52] in spite of the continuing economic recovery and fall in unemployment that the Conservative government (led by John Major) had overseen since the end of the 1990–92 recession. [52] At the 1996 Labour Party conference, Blair stated that his three top priorities on coming to office were "education, education, and education". [53]

Aided by the unpopularity of John Major's Conservative government (itself deeply divided over the European Union), [54] "New Labour" won a landslide victory at the 1997 general election, ending eighteen years of Conservative Party rule, with the heaviest Conservative defeat since 1906. [55]

According to diaries released by Paddy Ashdown, during Smith's leadership of the Labour Party, there were discussions with Ashdown about forming a coalition government if the next general election resulted in a hung parliament. Ashdown also claimed that Blair was a supporter of proportional representation (PR). [56] In addition to Ashdown, Liberal Democrat MPs Menzies Campbell and Alan Beith were earmarked for places in the cabinet if a Labour-Lib Dem coalition was formed. [57] Blair was forced to back down on these proposals because John Prescott and Gordon Brown opposed the PR system, and many members of the Shadow Cabinet were worried about concessions being made towards the Lib Dems. [57] In the event, virtually every opinion poll since late-1992 put Labour ahead with enough support to form an overall majority. [58]

Blair became the prime minister of the United Kingdom on 2 May 1997. Aged 43, Blair became the youngest person to become prime minister since Lord Liverpool became prime minister aged 42 in 1812. [59] He was also the first prime minister born after World War II and the accession of Elizabeth II to the throne. With victories in 1997, 2001, and 2005, Blair was the Labour Party's longest-serving prime minister, [60] and the first and only person to date to lead the party to three consecutive general election victories. [61]

Northern Ireland

His contribution towards assisting the Northern Ireland peace process by helping to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement (after 30 years of conflict) was widely recognised. [62] [63] Following the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998, by members of the Real IRA opposed to the peace process, which killed 29 people and wounded hundreds, Blair visited the County Tyrone town and met with victims at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. [64]

Military intervention and the War on Terror

In his first six years in office, Blair ordered British troops into combat five times, more than any other prime minister in British history. This included Iraq in both 1998 and 2003, Kosovo (1999), Sierra Leone (2000) and Afghanistan (2001). [65]

The Kosovo War, which Blair had advocated on moral grounds, was initially a failure when it relied solely on air strikes the threat of a ground offensive convinced Serbia's Slobodan Milošević to withdraw. Blair had been a major advocate for a ground offensive, which Bill Clinton was reluctant to do, and ordered that 50,000 soldiers – most of the available British Army – should be made ready for action. [66] The following year, the limited Operation Palliser in Sierra Leone swiftly swung the tide against the rebel forces before deployment, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone had been on the verge of collapse. [67] Palliser had been intended as an evacuation mission but Brigadier David Richards was able to convince Blair to allow him to expand the role at the time, Richards' action was not known and Blair was assumed to be behind it. [68]

Blair ordered Operation Barras, a highly successful SAS/Parachute Regiment strike to rescue hostages from a Sierra Leone rebel group. [69] Journalist Andrew Marr has argued that the success of ground attacks, real and threatened, over air strikes alone was influential on how Blair planned the Iraq War, and that the success of the first three wars Blair fought "played to his sense of himself as a moral war leader". [70] When asked in 2010 if the success of Palliser may have "embolden[ed] British politicians" to think of military action as a policy option, General Sir David Richards admitted there "might be something in that". [68]

From the start of the War on Terror in 2001, Blair strongly supported the foreign policy of George W. Bush, participating in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was particularly controversial, as it attracted widespread public opposition and 139 of Blair's own MPs opposed it. [71]

As a result, he faced criticism over the policy itself and the circumstances of the decision. Alastair Campbell described Blair's statement that the intelligence on WMDs was "beyond doubt" as his "assessment of the assessment that was given to him." [72] In 2009, Blair stated that he would have supported removing Saddam Hussein from power even in the face of proof that he had no such weapons. [73] Playwright Harold Pinter and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad accused Blair of war crimes. [74] [75]

Testifying before the Iraq Inquiry on 29 January 2010, Blair said Saddam was a "monster and I believe he threatened not just the region but the world." [76] Blair said that British and American attitude towards Saddam Hussein had "changed dramatically" after the 11 September attacks. Blair denied that he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he had thought Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. He said he believed the world was safer as a result of the invasion. [77] He said there was "no real difference between wanting regime change and wanting Iraq to disarm: regime change was US policy because Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations." [78] In an October 2015 CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, Blair apologised for his "mistakes" over Iraq War and admitted there were "elements of truth" to the view that the invasion helped promote the rise of ISIS. [79] The Chilcot Inquiry report of 2016 gave a damning assessment of Blair's role in the Iraq War, though the former prime minister again refused to apologise for his decision to back the US-led invasion. [80]

Relationship with Parliament

One of Blair's first acts as prime minister was to replace the then twice-weekly 15-minute sessions of Prime Minister's Questions held on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a single 30-minute session on Wednesdays. In addition to PMQs, Blair held monthly press conferences at which he fielded questions from journalists [81] and – from 2002 – broke precedent by agreeing to give evidence twice yearly before the most senior Commons select committee, the Liaison Committee. [82] Blair was sometimes perceived as paying insufficient attention both to the views of his own Cabinet colleagues and to those of the House of Commons. [83] [84] His style was sometimes criticised as not that of a prime minister and head of government, which he was, but of a president and head of state – which he was not. [85] Blair was accused of excessive reliance on spin. [86] [87] He was the first UK prime minister to have been formally questioned by police, though not under caution, while still in office. [88]

Events before resignation

As the casualties of the Iraq War mounted, Blair was accused of misleading Parliament, [89] [90] and his popularity dropped dramatically. [91] [92]

Labour's overall majority at the 2005 general election was reduced from 167 to 66 seats. As a combined result of the Blair–Brown pact, Iraq war and low approval ratings, pressure built up within the Labour Party for Blair to resign. [93] [94] Over the summer of 2006 many MPs, including usually supportive MPs, criticised Blair for not calling for a ceasefire in the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict. [95] On 7 September 2006, Blair publicly stated he would step down as party leader by the time of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference held 10–13 September 2007, [96] having promised to serve a full term during the previous general election campaign. On 10 May 2007, during a speech at the Trimdon Labour Club, Blair announced his intention to resign as both Labour Party leader and prime minister. [97] This triggered the 2007 Labour Party leadership election, in which Brown was the only candidate for leader. [98]

At a special party conference in Manchester on 24 June 2007, Blair formally handed over the leadership of the Labour Party to Gordon Brown, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer in Blair's three ministries. [99] Blair tendered his resignation on 27 June 2007 and Brown assumed office during the same afternoon. Blair resigned from his Sedgfield seat in the House of Commons in the traditional form of accepting the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, to which he was appointed by Gordon Brown in one of the latter's last acts as Chancellor of the Exchequer. [100] The resulting Sedgefield by-election was won by Labour's candidate, Phil Wilson. Blair decided not to issue a list of Resignation Honours, making him the first prime minister of the modern era not to do so. [101]

Social reforms

In 2001, Blair said, "We are a left of centre party, pursuing economic prosperity and social justice as partners and not as opposites". [102] Blair rarely applies such labels to himself, but he promised before the 1997 election that New Labour would govern "from the radical centre", and according to one lifelong Labour Party member, has always described himself as a social democrat. [103] However, in a 2007 opinion piece in the Guardian, left-wing commentator Neil Lawson described Blair as to the right of centre. [104] A YouGov opinion poll in 2005 found that a small majority of British voters, including many New Labour supporters, placed Blair on the right of the political spectrum. [105] The Financial Times on the other hand has argued that Blair is not conservative, but instead a populist. [106]

Critics and admirers tend to agree that Blair's electoral success was based on his ability to occupy the centre ground and appeal to voters across the political spectrum, to the extent that he has been fundamentally at odds with traditional Labour Party values. Some left-wing critics, such as Mike Marqusee in 2001, argued that Blair oversaw the final stage of a long term shift of the Labour Party to the right. [107]

There is some evidence that Blair's long term dominance of the centre forced his Conservative opponents to shift a long distance to the left to challenge his hegemony there. [108] Leading Conservatives of the post-New Labour era hold Blair in high regard: George Osborne describes him as "the master", Michael Gove thought he had an "entitlement to conservative respect" in February 2003, while David Cameron reportedly maintained Blair as an informal adviser. [109] [110] [111]

Blair increased police powers by adding to the number of arrestable offences, compulsory DNA recording and the use of dispersal orders. [112] Under Blair's government the amount of new legislation increased [113] which attracted criticism. [114] He also introduced tough anti-terrorism and identity card legislation.

Economic policies

During his time as prime minister, Blair raised taxes introduced a National Minimum Wage and some new employment rights (while keeping Margaret Thatcher's trade union reforms [115] ) introduced significant constitutional reforms promoted new rights for gay people in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and signed treaties integrating Britain more closely with the EU. He introduced substantial market-based reforms in the education and health sectors introduced student tuition fees and sought to reduce certain categories of welfare payments. He did not reverse the privatisation of the railways enacted by his predecessor John Major and instead strengthened regulation (by creating the Office of Rail Regulation) and limited fare rises to inflation +1%. [116] [117] [118]

Blair and Brown raised spending on the NHS and other public services, increasing spending from 39.9% of GDP to 48.1% in 2010–11. [120] [121] They pledged in 2001 to bring NHS spending to the levels of other European countries, and doubled spending in real terms to over £100 billion in England alone. [122]

Immigration

Non-European immigration rose significantly during the period from 1997, not least because of the government's abolition of the primary purpose rule in June 1997. [123] This change made it easier for UK residents to bring foreign spouses into the country. The former government advisor Andrew Neather in the Evening Standard stated that the deliberate policy of ministers from late 2000 until early 2008 was to open up the UK to mass migration. [124] [125] Neather later stated that his words had been twisted, saying: "The main goal was to allow in more migrant workers at a point when – hard as it is to imagine now – the booming economy was running up against skills shortages. Somehow this has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a "plot" to make Britain multicultural. There was no plot." [126]

Environmental record

Blair criticised other governments for not doing enough to solve global climate change. In a 1997 visit to the United States, he made a comment on "great industrialised nations" that fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Again in 2003, Blair went before the United States Congress and said that climate change "cannot be ignored", insisting "we need to go beyond even Kyoto." [127] Blair and his party promised a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide. [128] The Labour Party also claimed that by 2010 10% of the energy would come from renewable resources however, it only reached 7% by that point. [129]

In 2000, Blair "flagged up" 100 million euros for green policies and urged environmentalists and businesses to work together. [130]

Foreign policy

Blair built his foreign policy on basic principles (close ties with U.S. and E.U.) and added a new activist philosophy of "interventionism". In 2001 Britain joined the U.S. in the global war on terror. [131]

Blair forged friendships with several European leaders, including Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, [132] Angela Merkel of Germany [133] and later Nicolas Sarkozy of France. [134]

Along with enjoying a close relationship with Bill Clinton, Blair formed a strong political alliance with George W. Bush, particularly in the area of foreign policy. For his part, Bush lauded Blair and the UK. In his post-9/11 speech, for example, he stated that "America has no truer friend than Great Britain". [135]

The alliance between Bush and Blair seriously damaged Blair's standing in the eyes of Britons angry at American influence. [136] Blair argued it was in Britain's interest to "protect and strengthen the bond" with the United States regardless of who is in the White House. [137]

However, a perception of one-sided compromising personal and political closeness led to discussion of the term "Poodle-ism" in the UK media, to describe the "Special Relationship" of the UK government and prime minister with the US White House and President. [138] A revealing conversation between Bush and Blair, with the former addressing the latter as "Yo [or Yeah], Blair" was recorded when they did not know a microphone was live at the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg in 2006. [139]

Middle East policy

On 30 January 2003, Blair signed The letter of the eight supporting U.S. policy on Iraq. [140]

Blair showed a deep feeling for Israel, born in part from his faith. [141] Blair has been a longtime member of the pro-Israel lobby group Labour Friends of Israel. [142]

In 1994, Blair forged close ties with Michael Levy, a leader of the Jewish Leadership Council. [143] Levy ran the Labour Leader's Office Fund to finance Blair's campaign before the 1997 election and raised £12 million towards Labour's landslide victory, Levy was rewarded with a peerage, and in 2002, Blair appointed Lord Levy as his personal envoy to the Middle East. Levy praised Blair for his "solid and committed support of the State of Israel". [144] Tam Dalyell, while Father of the House of Commons, suggested in 2003 that Blair's foreign policy decisions were unduly influenced by a "cabal" of Jewish advisers, including Levy, Peter Mandelson and Jack Straw (the last two are not Jewish but have some Jewish ancestry). [145]

Blair, on coming to office, had been "cool towards the right-wing Netanyahu government". [146] During his first visit to Israel, Blair thought the Israelis bugged him in his car. [147] After the election in 1999 of Ehud Barak, with whom Blair forged a close relationship, he became much more sympathetic to Israel. [146] From 2001, Blair built up a relationship [ clarification needed ] with Barak's successor, Ariel Sharon, and responded positively to Arafat, whom he had met thirteen times since becoming prime minister and regarded as essential to future negotiations. [146] In 2004, 50 former diplomats, including ambassadors to Baghdad and Tel Aviv, stated they had "watched with deepening concern" at Britain following the US into war in Iraq in 2003. They criticised Blair's support for the road map for peace which included the retaining of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. [148]

In 2006 Blair was criticised for his failure to immediately call for a ceasefire in the 2006 Lebanon War. The Observer newspaper claimed that at a cabinet meeting before Blair left for a summit with Bush on 28 July 2006, a significant number of ministers pressured Blair to publicly criticise Israel over the scale of deaths and destruction in Lebanon. [149] Blair was criticised for his solid stance alongside US President George W. Bush on Middle East policy. [150]

Syria and Libya

A Freedom of Information request by The Sunday Times in 2012 revealed that Blair's government considered knighting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. The documents showed Blair was willing to appear alongside Assad at a joint press conference even though the Syrians would probably have settled for a farewell handshake for the cameras British officials sought to manipulate the media to portray Assad in a favourable light and Blair's aides tried to help Assad's "photogenic" wife boost her profile. The newspaper noted:

The Arab leader was granted audiences with the Queen and the Prince of Wales, lunch with Blair at Downing Street, a platform in parliament and many other privileges . The red carpet treatment he and his entourage received is embarrassing given the bloodbath that has since taken place under his rule in Syria . The courtship has parallels with Blair's friendly relations with Muammar Gaddafi. [151]

Blair had been on friendly terms with Colonel Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, when sanctions imposed on the country were lifted by the US and the UK. [152] [153]

Even after the Libyan Civil War in 2011, he said he had no regrets about his close relationship with the late Libyan leader. [154] During Blair's premiership, MI6 rendered Abdelhakim Belhadj to the Gaddafi regime in 2004, though Blair later claimed he had "no recollection" of the incident. [155]

Zimbabwe

Blair had an antagonistic relationship with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and allegedly planned regime change against Mugabe in the early 2000s. [156] Zimbabwe had embarked on a program of uncompensated land redistribution from the country's white commercial farmers to the black population, a policy that disrupted agricultural production and threw Zimbabwe's economy into chaos. General Charles Guthrie, the Chief of the Defence Staff, revealed in 2007 that he and Blair had discussed the invasion of Zimbabwe. [157] Guthrie advised against military action: "Hold hard, you'll make it worse." [157] In 2013, South African President Thabo Mbeki said that Blair had pressured South Africa to join in a "regime change scheme, even to the point of using military force" in Zimbabwe. [156] Mbeki refused because he felt that "Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem." [156] However, a spokesman for Blair said that "he never asked anyone to plan or take part in any such military intervention." [156]

Rupert Murdoch

Blair was reported by The Guardian in 2006 to have been supported politically by Rupert Murdoch, the founder of the News Corporation organisation. [158] In 2011, Blair became Godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch's children with Wendi Deng, [159] but he and Murdoch later ended their friendship, in 2014, after Murdoch suspected him of having an affair with Deng while they were still married, according to The Economist magazine. [160] [161] [162] [ better source needed ]

Contacts with UK media proprietors

A Cabinet Office freedom of information response, released the day after Blair handed over power to Gordon Brown, documents Blair having various official phone calls and meetings with Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation and Richard Desmond of Northern and Shell Media. [163]

The response includes contacts "clearly of an official nature" in the specified period, but excludes contacts "not clearly of an official nature." [164] No details were given of the subjects discussed. In the period between September 2002 and April 2005, Blair and Murdoch are documented speaking 6 times three times in the 9 days before the Iraq War, including the eve of 20 March US and UK invasion, and on 29 January 25 April and 3 October 2004. Between January 2003 and February 2004, Blair had three meetings with Richard Desmond on 29 January and 3 September 2003 and 23 February 2004. [165]

The information was disclosed after a 3 + 1 ⁄ 2 -year battle by the Liberal Democrats' Lord Avebury. [163] Lord Avebury's initial October 2003 information request was dismissed by then leader of the Lords, Baroness Amos. [163] A following complaint was rejected, with Downing Street claiming the information compromised free and frank discussions, while Cabinet Office claimed releasing the timing of the PM's contacts with individuals is undesirable, as it might lead to the content of the discussions being disclosed. [163] While awaiting a following appeal from Lord Avebury, the cabinet office announced that it would release the information. Lord Avebury said: "The public can now scrutinise the timing of his (Murdoch's) contacts with the former prime minister, to see whether they can be linked to events in the outside world." [163]

Blair appeared before the Leveson Inquiry on Monday 28 May 2012. [166] During his appearance, a protester, later named as David Lawley-Wakelin, got into the court-room and claimed he was guilty of war crimes before being dragged out. [167]

Media portrayal

Blair has been noted as a charismatic, articulate speaker with an informal style. [45] Film and theatre director Richard Eyre opined that "Blair had a very considerable skill as a performer". [168] A few months after becoming prime minister Blair gave a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, on the morning of her death in August 1997, in which he famously described her as "the People's Princess". [169] [170]

After taking office in 1997, Blair gave particular prominence to his press secretary, who became known as the prime minister's official spokesman (the two roles have since been separated). Blair's first PMOS was Alastair Campbell, who served in that role from May 1997 to 8 June 2001, after which he served as the prime minister's director of communications and strategy until his resignation on 29 August 2003 in the aftermath of the Hutton Inquiry. [171]

Blair had close relationships with the Clinton family. The strong partnership with Bill Clinton was made into the film "The Special Relationship" in 2010. [172]

Blair's apparent refusal to set a date for his departure was criticised by the British press and Members of Parliament. It has been reported that a number of cabinet ministers believed that Blair's timely departure from office would be required to be able to win a fourth election. [173] Some ministers viewed Blair's announcement of policy initiatives in September 2006 as an attempt to draw attention away from these issues. [173]

Gordon Brown

After the death of John Smith in 1994, Blair and his close colleague Gordon Brown (they shared an office at the House of Commons [45] ) were both seen as possible candidates for the party leadership. They agreed not to stand against each other, it is said, as part of a supposed Blair–Brown pact. Brown, who considered himself the senior of the two, understood that Blair would give way to him: opinion polls soon indicated, however, that Blair appeared to enjoy greater support among voters. [174] Their relationship in power became so turbulent that (it was reported) the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, often had to act as "marriage guidance counsellor". [175]

During the 2010 election campaign Blair publicly endorsed Gordon Brown's leadership, praising the way he had handled the financial crisis. [176]

Diplomacy

On 27 June 2007, Blair officially resigned as prime minister after ten years in office, and he was officially confirmed as Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia. [177] Blair originally indicated that he would retain his parliamentary seat after his resignation as prime minister came into effect however, on being confirmed for the Middle East role he resigned from the Commons by taking up an office of profit. [100] President George W. Bush had preliminary talks with Blair to ask him to take up the envoy role. White House sources stated that "both Israel and the Palestinians had signed up to the proposal". [178] [179] In May 2008 Blair announced a new plan for peace and for Palestinian rights, based heavily on the ideas of the Peace Valley plan. [180] Blair resigned as envoy in May 2015. [181]

Private sector

In January 2008, it was confirmed that Blair would be joining investment bank JPMorgan Chase in a "senior advisory capacity" [182] and that he would advise Zurich Financial Services on climate change. His salary for this work is unknown, although it has been claimed it may be in excess of £500,000 per year. [182] Blair also gives lectures, earning up to US$250,000 for a 90-minute speech, and in 2008 he was said to be the highest paid speaker in the world. [183]

Blair taught a course on issues of faith and globalisation at the Yale University Schools of Management and Divinity as a Howland distinguished fellow during the 2008–09 academic year. In July 2009, this accomplishment was followed by the launching of the Faith and Globalisation Initiative with Yale University in the US, Durham University in the UK, and the National University of Singapore in Asia, to deliver a postgraduate programme in partnership with the Foundation. [184]

Blair's links with, and receipt of an undisclosed sum from, UI Energy Corporation, have also been subject to media comment in the UK. [185]

In July 2010 it was reported that his personal security guards claimed £250,000 a year in expenses from the tax payer, Foreign Secretary William Hague said "we have to make sure that [Blair's security] is as cost-effective as possible, that it doesn't cost any more to the taxpayer than is absolutely necessary". [186]

Tony Blair Associates

Blair established Tony Blair Associates to "allow him to provide, in partnership with others, strategic advice on a commercial and pro bono basis, on political and economic trends and governmental reform". [187] The profits from the firm go towards supporting Blair's "work on faith, Africa and climate change". [188]

Blair has been subject to criticism for potential conflicts of interest between his diplomatic role as a Middle East envoy, and his work with Tony Blair Associates, [189] [190] [191] and a number of prominent critics have even called for him to be sacked. [192] Blair has used his Quartet Tony Blair Associates works with the Kazakhstan government, advising the regime on judicial, economic and political reforms, but has been subject to criticism after accusations of "whitewashing" the image and human rights record of the regime. [193]

Blair responded to such criticism by saying his choice to advise the country is an example of how he can "nudge controversial figures on a progressive path of reform", and has stated that he receives no personal profit from this advisory role. [194] The Kazakhstan foreign minister said that the country was "honoured and privileged" to be receiving advice from Blair. [195] [196] A letter obtained by The Daily Telegraph in August 2014 revealed Blair had given damage-limitation advice to Nazarbayev after the December 2011 Zhanaozen massacre. [197] Blair was reported to have accepted a business advisory role with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, a situation deemed incompatible with his role as Middle East envoy. Blair described the report as "nonsense". [198] [199]

Charity

In November 2007 Blair launched the Tony Blair Sports Foundation, which aims 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." [200] On 30 May 2008, Blair launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as a vehicle for encouraging different faiths to join together in promoting respect and understanding, as well as working to tackle poverty. Reflecting Blair's own faith but not dedicated to any particular religion, the Foundation aims to "show how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world". "The Foundation will use its profile and resources to encourage people of faith to work together more closely to tackle global poverty and conflict," says its mission statement. [201]

In February 2009 he applied to set up a charity called the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative: the application was approved in November 2009. [202] In October 2012 Blair's foundation hit controversy when it emerged they were taking on unpaid interns. [203]

Non-profits

In December 2016, Blair created the Tony Blair Institute to promote global outlooks by governments and organisations. [204] [205]

Memoirs

In March 2010, it was reported that Blair's memoirs, titled The Journey, would be published in September 2010. [206] In July 2010 it was announced the memoirs would be retitled A Journey. [207] The memoirs were seen by many as controversial and a further attempt to profit from his office and from acts related to overseas wars that were widely seen as wrong, [208] [209] [210] leading to anger and suspicion prior to launch. [209]

On 16 August 2010 it was announced that Blair would give the £4.6 million advance and all royalties from his memoirs to the Royal British Legion – the charity's largest ever single donation. [208] [211]

Media analysis of the sudden announcement was wide-ranging, describing it as an act of "desperation" to obtain a better launch reception of a humiliating "publishing flop" [212] that had languished in the ratings, [208] [212] "blood money" for the lives lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, [208] [210] an act with a "hidden motive" or an expression of "guilt", [208] [209] a "genius move" to address the problem that "Tony Blair ha[d] one of the most toxic brands around" from a PR perspective, and a "cynical stunt to wipe the slate", but also as an attempt to make amends. [212] Friends had said that the act was partly motivated by the wish to "repair his reputation". [208]

The book was published on 1 September and within hours of its launch had become the fastest-selling autobiography of all time. [213] On 3 September Blair gave his first live interview since publication on The Late Late Show in Ireland, with protesters lying in wait there for him. [214] On 4 September Blair was confronted by 200 anti-war and hardline Irish nationalist demonstrators before the first book signing of his memoirs at Eason's bookstore on O'Connell Street in Dublin, with angry activists chanting "war criminal" and that he had "blood on his hands", and clashing with Irish Police (Garda Síochána) as they tried to break through a security cordon outside the Eason's store. Blair was pelted with eggs and shoes, and encountered an attempted citizen's arrest for war crimes. [215]

Accusations of war crimes

Since the Iraq War, Blair has been the subject of war crimes accusations. Critics of his actions, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, [216] Harold Pinter [217] and Arundhati Roy [218] have called for his trial at the International Criminal Court.

In November 2011, a war crimes tribunal of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, established by Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, reached a unanimous conclusion that Blair and George W. Bush are guilty of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and genocide as a result of their roles in the 2003 Iraq War. The proceedings lasted for four days, and consisted of five judges of judicial and academic backgrounds, a tribunal-appointed defence team in lieu of the defendants or representatives, and a prosecution team including international law professor Francis Boyle. [219]

In September 2012, Desmond Tutu suggested that Blair should follow the path of former African leaders who had been brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. [216] The human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman, interviewed on BBC radio, concurred with Tutu's suggestion that there should be a war crimes trial. [220] In a statement made in response to Tutu's comments, Blair defended his actions. [216] He was supported by Lord Falconer, who stated that the war had been authorised by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. [220]

In July 2017, former Iraqi general Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat launched a private war crimes prosecution, in the High Court in London, asking for Tony Blair, former foreign secretary Jack Straw and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith to be prosecuted for "the crime of aggression" for their role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The High Court ruled that, although the crime of aggression was recognised in international law, it was not an offence under UK law, and, therefore, the prosecution could not proceed. [221] [222] [223] [224]

Response to the Iraq Inquiry

The Chilcot report after the conclusion of the Iraq Inquiry was issued on 6 July 2016 and it criticised Blair for joining the US in the war in Iraq in 2003. Afterwards, Blair issued a statement and held a two-hour press conference to apologise and to justify the decisions he had made in 2003 "in good faith" and denying allegations that the war had led to a significant increase in terrorism. [225] He acknowledged that the report made "real and material criticisms of preparation, planning, process and of the relationship with the United States" but cited sections of the report that he said "should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit". He stated: "whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country. . I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse. I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world". [226] [227]

Iran–West tensions

Blair wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on 8 February 2019: "Where Iran is exercising military interference, it should be strongly pushed back. Where it is seeking influence, it should be countered. Where its proxies operate, it should be held responsible. Where its networks exist, they should be disrupted. Where its leaders are saying what is unacceptable, they should be exposed. Where the Iranian people — highly educated and connected, despite their government — are protesting for freedom, they should be supported." [228] The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change warned of growing Iranian threat. [229] The Tony Blair Institute confirmed that it has received donations from the U.S. State Department and Saudi Arabia. [230] [231]

European Union

Blair did not want the UK to leave the EU. Blair had called for a referendum on the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Blair also maintained, that once the terms deciding how the UK leaves the EU were known the people should vote again on those terms. Blair stated, "We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can't then it should decide to go back to the people." [232]

However, after the 2019 general election when the pro-withdrawal Conservative party won a sizeable majority of seats, Blair argued that remain supporters should "face up to one simple point: we lost" and "pivot to a completely new position. We're going to have to be constructive about it and see how Britain develops a constructive relationship with Europe and finds its new niche in the world." [233]

American power

Blair was interviewed in June 2020 for an article in the American magazine The Atlantic on European views of U.S. foreign policy following the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession, increased tensions in Sino-American relations, and the George Floyd protests. He affirmed his belief in the continued strength of American soft power and the need to address Iranian military aggression, European defence budgets, and Chinese trade. He said, however, "I think it's fair to say a lot of political leaders in Europe are dismayed by what they see as the isolationism growing in America and the seeming indifference to alliances. But I think there will come a time when America decides in its own interest to reengage, so I'm optimistic that America will in the end understand that this is not about relegating your self-interest behind the common interest it's an understanding that by acting collectively in alliance with others you promote your own interests." Blair warned that structural issues plaguing American domestic policy needed to be addressed imminently. [234]

Labour

Blair has been a critic of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party, seeing it as too left-wing. He accused Corbyn of turning the party into a "glorified protest movement". [235] In a 2021 New Statesman article, Blair suggested that the party had a "total deconstruction and reconstruction", saying that Labour leader Keir Starmer was being backed into "electorally off-putting positions" and lacked a compelling economic message. He also said the party needed to shift to the centre on social issues in order to survive. Blair touched on controversial topics such as transgender rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change and Corbyn's leadership of the party. [236] [237] [238]

Family

Blair married Cherie Booth, a Roman Catholic, who would later become a Queen's Counsel, on 29 March 1980. [239] They have four children: Euan, Nicholas, Kathryn, and Leo. [240] Leo, delivered by the royal surgeon/gynaecologist Marcus Setchell, was the first legitimate child born to a serving prime minister in over 150 years – since Francis Russell was born to Lord John Russell on 11 July 1849. [241] All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Blair's mother, Hazel Elizabeth Rosaleen Corscadden (12 June 1923 – 28 June 1975). [242] The family's primary residence is in Connaught Square the Blairs own eight residences in total. [243]

His first grandchild (a girl) was born in October 2016. [244]

Wealth

Blair's financial assets are structured in a complicated manner, and as such estimates of their extent vary widely. [245] These include figures of up to £100 million. Blair stated in 2014 that he was worth "less than £20 million". [246] A 2015 assertion, by Francis Beckett, David Hencke and Nick Kochan, concluded that Blair had acquired $90 million and a property portfolio worth $37.5 million in the eight years since he had left office. [247]

Religious faith

In an interview with Michael Parkinson broadcast on ITV1 on 4 March 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, stating that he had prayed about the issue, and saying that God would judge him for his decision: "I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people . and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well." [248]

According to Press Secretary Alastair Campbell's diary, Blair often read the Bible before taking any important decisions. He states that Blair had a "wobble" and considered changing his mind on the eve of the bombing of Iraq in 1998. [249]

A longer exploration of his faith can be found in an interview with Third Way Magazine. There he says that "I was brought up as [a Christian], but I was not in any real sense a practising one until I went to Oxford. There was an Australian priest at the same college as me who got me interested again. In a sense, it was a rediscovery of religion as something living, that was about the world around me rather than some sort of special one-to-one relationship with a remote Being on high. Suddenly I began to see its social relevance. I began to make sense of the world". [250]

At one point Alastair Campbell intervened in an interview, preventing Blair from answering a question about his Christianity, explaining, "We don't do God." [251] Campbell later said that he had intervened only to end the interview because the journalist had been taking an excessive time, and that the comment had just been a throwaway line. [252]

Cherie Blair's friend and "spiritual guru" Carole Caplin is credited with introducing her and her husband to various New Age symbols and beliefs, including "magic pendants" known as "BioElectric Shields". [253] The most controversial of the Blairs' New Age practices occurred when on holiday in Mexico. The couple, wearing only bathing costumes, took part in a rebirthing procedure, which involved smearing mud and fruit over each other's bodies while sitting in a steam bath. [254]

Later on, Blair questioned the Pope's attitude towards homosexuality, arguing that religious leaders must start "rethinking" the issue. [255] Blair was reprimanded by Cardinal Basil Hume in 1996 for receiving Holy Communion at Mass, while still an Anglican, in contravention of canon law. [256] On 22 December 2007, it was disclosed that Blair had joined the Roman Catholic Church. The move was described as "a private matter". [257] [258] He had informed Pope Benedict XVI on 23 June 2007 that he wanted to become a Catholic. The Pope and his advisors criticised some of Blair's political actions, but followed up with a reportedly unprecedented red-carpet welcome, which included the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who would be responsible for Blair's Catholic instruction. [259] In 2010, The Tablet named him as one of Britain's most influential Roman Catholics. [260]

Extramarital affair allegations

In 2014, Vanity Fair and The Economist published allegations that Blair had had an extramarital affair with Wendi Deng, who was then married to Rupert Murdoch. [162] [261] Blair denied the allegations. [161] [162]

Appearances

Blair made an animated cameo appearance as himself in The Simpsons episode, "The Regina Monologues" (2003). [262] He has also appeared as himself at the end of the first episode of The Amazing Mrs Pritchard, a British television series about an unknown housewife becoming prime minister. On 14 March 2007, Blair appeared as a celebrity judge on Masterchef Goes Large after contestants had to prepare a three-course meal in the Downing Street kitchens for Blair and Bertie Ahern. [263] On 16 March 2007, Blair featured in a comedy sketch with Catherine Tate, who appeared in the guise of her character Lauren Cooper from The Catherine Tate Show. The sketch was made for the BBC Red Nose Day fundraising programme of 2007. During the sketch, Blair used Lauren's catchphrase "Am I bovvered?" [264]

Portrayals

Michael Sheen has portrayed Blair three times, in the films The Deal (2003), The Queen (2006), and The Special Relationship (2009). Robert Lindsay portrayed Blair in the TV programme A Very Social Secretary (2005), and reprised the role in The Trial of Tony Blair (2007). He was also portrayed by James Larkin in The Government Inspector (2005), and by Ioan Gruffudd in W. (2008). In the 2006 Channel 4 comedy drama documentary, Tony Blair: Rock Star, he was portrayed by Christian Brassington. [265]

Blair in fiction and satire

When Blair resigned as prime minister, Robert Harris, a former Fleet Street political editor, dropped his other work to write The Ghost. The CIA-influenced British prime minister in the book is said to be a thinly disguised version of Blair. [266] The novel was filmed as The Ghost Writer (2010) with Pierce Brosnan portraying the Blair character, Adam Lang. Stephen Mangan portrays Blair in The Hunt for Tony Blair (2011), a one-off The Comic Strip Presents. satire presented in the style of a 1950s film noir. In the film, he is wrongly implicated in the deaths of Robin Cook and John Smith and on the run from Inspector Hutton. [267] In 2007, the scenario of a possible war crimes trial for the former British prime minister was satirised by the British broadcaster Channel 4, in a "mockumentary", The Trial of Tony Blair, with concluded with the fictional Blair being dispatched to the Hague. [268]

In May 2007, Blair was invested as a paramount chief by the chiefs and people of Mahera village, Sierra Leone. The honour was bestowed upon him in recognition of the role played by his government in the Sierra Leone Civil War. [270]

In May 2007, before his resignation, it was speculated that Blair would be offered a knighthood in the Order of the Thistle, owing to his Scottish connections (rather than the Order of the Garter, which is usually offered to former prime ministers). [271] Blair reportedly indicated that he did not want the traditional knighthood or peerage bestowed on former prime ministers. [272]

On 22 May 2008, Blair received an honorary law doctorate from Queen's University Belfast, alongside former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, for distinction in public service and roles in the Northern Ireland peace process. [273]

On 13 January 2009, Blair was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. [274] Bush stated that Blair was given the award "in recognition of exemplary achievement and to convey the utmost esteem of the American people" [275] and cited Blair's support for the War on Terror and his role in achieving peace in Northern Ireland as two reasons for justifying his being presented with the award. [276]

On 16 February 2009, Blair was awarded the Dan David Prize by Tel Aviv University for "exceptional leadership and steadfast determination in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions to areas in conflict". He was awarded the prize in May 2009. [277] [278]

On 8 July 2010, Blair was awarded the Order of Freedom by the President of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu. [279] As Blair is credited as being instrumental in ending the conflict in Kosovo, some boys born in the country following the war have been given the name Toni or Tonibler. [280]

On 13 September 2010, Blair was awarded the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [281] It was presented by former President Bill Clinton, and is awarded annually to "men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe". [281] [282]


Contents

Patsy Lou Blake was born in Fort Worth, Texas and grew up in Dallas. She became a teenage model through the Conover Agency. While acting in summer stock, Warner Bros. discovered her and she began acting in films under the names Patricia Blake and Pat Blake. In the late 1950s she appeared as the second female lead in several films for Warner Bros. and later for MGM. [1] Her first movie was Jump Into Hell (1955), about the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in French Indochina. [3]

She had a recurring role as Goldy, one of Madame Francine's hostesses, on the 1958 TV series Yancy Derringer. In 1962 she starred as Lou Mallory in The Rifleman, replacing actress Joan Taylor as Chuck Connors' love interest on that series. She also made a guest appearance in 1963 on Perry Mason as murderess Nicolai Wright in "The Case of the Badgered Brother." She made guest appearances as well on other television series, such as The Bob Cummings Show, Rescue 8, Gunsmoke, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, The Virginian, and Bonanza.

Blair had considered moving to New York City in 1964 until screenwriter Gordon Chase helped her get a role on the NBC series Daniel Boone. She played wife Rebecca Boone, opposite Fess Parker for six seasons, with Darby Hinton as son Israel and Veronica Cartwright as daughter Jemima. After the series ended in 1970, she appeared in a few minor films and television spots. Her last appearance in a feature film was in 1979, portraying a fashion narrator in The Electric Horseman starring Robert Redford. In her later years she produced trade shows in New York and New Jersey.

On February 14, 1965, the 32-year-old Blair married 42-year-old [4] land developer Martin S. Colbert in Los Angeles, California. The couple divorced in 1993. Colbert died in 1994.

Blair died at her home in North Wildwood, New Jersey at age 80 from breast cancer. [1]


17 Found Facts About The Blair Witch Project

Working with a miniscule budget of less than $25,000, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez wrote, directed, and edited one of the most successful independent movies ever made. The Blair Witch Project confused and frightened enough people when it was released in the summer of 1999 to earn more than $248 million in theaters worldwide. Nearly 20 years later, it’s time to find out the truth about the Burkittsville, Maryland legend.

1. THE "SCRIPT" WAS A 35-PAGE OUTLINE.

Myrick and Sánchez wrote their first draft of The Blair Witch Project in 1993, when they were both film students in Orlando, Florida. They wrote the script more as an outline because they had always planned for the dialogue to be improvised by their actors in order to make the story seem real.

2. THE AUDITION PROCESS WAS AN UNUSUAL ONE.

Actress Heather Donahue remembers reading an ad in Backstage that said: “An improvised feature film, shot in wooded location: it is going to be hell and most of you reading this probably shouldn't come." In order to test the improvisational skills of the candidates, as soon as each potential actor entered the room to audition, he or she was immediately told by one of the directors: "You've been in jail for the last nine years. We're the parole board. Why should we let you go? " If the actor hesitated for even a moment, the directors concluded the audition.

3. THE THREE MAIN ACTORS WERE PAID $1000 A DAY.

It was an eight-day shoot. Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard made a lot more in the years after The Blair Witch Project was released. Williams claimed he ended up with about $300,000.

4. HEATHER AND JOSH WERE SUPPOSED TO BE FORMER LOVERS.

The idea was scrapped before shooting, though ironically enough, a lot of tension did develop between the two actors/characters. When Heather called Josh “Mr. Punctuality,” it was an acidic in-joke (Leonard was very late that day). It was so “annoying” to the directors that they decided to kill off Josh first instead of Mike. Leonard was rewarded with a meal at Denny’s—the actors were only given rations of Power Bars and bananas while in the woods—and later a Jane’s Addiction concert while the other two remained at Seneca Creek State Park.

5. THE TEETH IN THE TWIGS WERE ACTUAL HUMAN TEETH.

They were supplied by Eduardo Sánchez’s dentist. The hair was Josh’s real hair.

6. THE ACTORS USED GPS TRACKERS TO FIND THEIR INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE DAY.

Production programmed wait points in the GPS unit for the actors to locate milk crates with three little plastic canisters in them. Each plastic canister contained notes on where the story was going for each actor, who would not show the other two their paper. From that point they were free to improvise the dialogue, provided they followed the general instructions given to them.

7. THE SOUNDS OF THE CHILDREN ACTUALLY TERRIFIED MIKE.

Williams said the most terrifying moment was hearing the sounds of the kids that lived across the street from Eduardo Sánchez’s mother on three boomboxes being blared outside of his tent.

8. THE ACTORS HAD A CODE WORD FOR WHEN THEY WANTED TO SPEAK OUT OF CHARACTER.

If one of the actors wanted to break character, he or she would say “taco.”

9. IT WAS TOO EXPENSIVE TO GET THE RIGHTS TO SOME THINGS.

In what would have been some fun foreshadowing, the directors wanted to have The Animals’ “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place” playing on the car radio in the beginning of the film, but that was too pricey for the producers to keep. They did manage to get the rights for Heather to quote the theme to Gilligan’s Island, as well as approval to show their Power Bars.

10. SHOOTING FINISHED ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT.

The local Denny’s also saw some extra business on October 31, 1997, as Heather Donahue and Michael C. Williams were also taken there for their first hearty meal in over a week. Williams described emerging from the woods and seeing people in costumes as “very surreal.”

11. NINETEEN HOURS OF FOOTAGE WAS EDITED DOWN TO 90 MINUTES.

It took Sánchez and Myrick eight months to cut the movie for its Sundance premiere. Their initial cut was two and a half hours, and the scenes taken out of the theatrical version were used for the website and for the faux documentary that ran on Syfy.

12. SÁNCHEZ CREATED THE MOVIE’S WEBSITE HIMSELF.

The co-director was the logical choice to build the website that helped spread the myth of the Blair Witch to anybody wanting the information, as he was the only one involved with the movie who had web-building experience. According to Sánchez, he also had the free time available to work on the site as he didn’t have a girlfriend at the time.

13. A LOT OF PEOPLE REALLY THOUGHT THE THREE ACTORS WERE DEAD.

Artisan, the now-defunct studio that bought the rights to the film, went to great lengths to keep Donahue, Leonard, and Williams away from the press for a time, and didn’t correct websites like IMDb that claimed the actors were deceased. Donahue’s mother even received sympathy cards.

14. SOME MOVIEGOERS GOT PHYSICALLY ILL BECAUSE OF THE SHAKY CAMERAWORK.

The regional director of Loews Cineplex Entertainment estimated that, on average, one person per screening got sick and asked for a refund.

15. ONLY JOSH IS STILL A FULL-TIME ACTOR.

Heather is currently a medical marijuana grower and the author of a memoir. Mike quit his furniture mover job on Late Night with Conan O’Brien soon after The Blair Witch Project was released, only to return to it to supplement his acting income to support his wife and kids.

16. BURKITTSVILLE, MARYLAND HAS DEALT WITH VANDALISM AND CREEPY FANS.

Burkittsville’s wooden welcome signs were stolen, as were their replacements. Artisan Entertainment bought the town four metal signs that have since rusted, or were also somehow stolen. Debby Burgoyne, the mayor of the town—population: 180—once woke up to find a fan of the movie standing in her living room. He had apparently assumed there was a tour. "It was crazy," Burgoyne told the Los Angeles Times. "People with cameras were everywhere. I made sure I had full makeup and a great nightie before I went out to get the morning paper."

17. THERE’S BEEN TALK OF A THIRD MOVIE.

The 2000 sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, was considered a shameless cash grab that had little involvement from Sánchez and Myrick. But the original co-directors have talked about the possibility of a prequel, which would be set in the late 1700s.


A True Contemporary: The Life and Work of Mary Blair

It was the late 1940’s. Walt Disney was working on Cinderella , his high-profile fairytale follow-up to the breakthrough Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , which was not only a cutting-edge technological accomplishment but an emotional one as well. With Snow White , Walt proved that feature-length animated films could capture an audience’s attention, and move them in unexpectedly profound ways. The production of Cinderella came at a crucial time for the studio, too: the outbreak of World War II meant that distribution abroad had dried up, domestic production was subsidized, and the studio had released a string of hugely ambitious, adventurous features. And while production costs on Cinderella had to be frugal, Walt also knew that it couldn’t look low budget. He wanted it to be distinctly, strikingly beautiful.

So, he called on Mary Blair.

By the time Cinderella was released, Blair was almost 40. At 20 she had won a scholarship to the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles, where she studied to become an illustrator. It was here that the then-Mary Browne Robinson met her future husband, Lee Blair. He was another scholarship student, and her involvement with Lee led to an interest in fine-art painting. Together they developed a handsome style of watercolor painting that was very popular during the Depression and exhibited in galleries nationwide. At this point her art was lovely but lacked definition. In 1938, Western Woman magazine described Blair as “one of the younger Los Angeles artists who is gaining recognition for the sincerity and originality of her work.”

While their paintings were popular enough, the Blairs remained starving artists. In 1938 Lee joined Disney to work as a color director on Pinocchio and Fantasia . By 1940, Mary had “reluctantly” (her words) signed with Disney. (She, after all, was a painter.) Her first job was as a meagerly paid sketch artist on what would one day become Lady and the Tramp . Soon she was working on stranger, more ambitious projects, like “Penelope and the Twelve Months,” a time travel tale about a young girl and a grandfather clock that was the first work to feature her doll-like characterizations. She also worked on “Baby Ballet,” a segment for a proposed Fantasia follow-up.

And while her art was stunning, it wasn’t fully formed. As John Canemaker, a Disney historian and author of a pair of books on Blair (liberally referenced here), notes, she was still reporting to animation supervisors Joe Grant and Sylvia Holland. Her drawings from that period “look like the work of three different artists,” asserts Canemaker. She described this work as “interesting,” but would soon be pulled away from the contentious atmosphere of Los Angeles (a strike had paralyzed the studio and the country was on the brink of World War II) by Walt, who asked her and several Disney artists (including her husband) to go with him to South America. It was there that they would embark on an extended goodwill trip/research journey meant to strengthen the relationship between the United States and South America and provide the basis for future animated shorts and features steeped in South American culture. It was a trip that would change her life forever.

Blair was excited about being on the ground floor of developing a film, and the artwork that she produced on the trip–stunning, colorful, occasionally geometric, graphic, and modern –speaks for itself. She observed everyday South American life (a woman with a baby on her back, carrying a small basket of chickens the way huts and homes made fascinating jagged patterns when aligned next to each other) and turned it into something dynamic and evocative. She didn’t emphasize the culture’s otherness or try to glamorize its exoticism. Instead, she found the inner beauty present in each passing moment. “She went inside herself to find how it felt , more than how it looked, and brilliantly communicated her emotions through imagery,” Canemaker notes. Even if you’ve never been to South America, you can look at Blair’s illustrations from the period and get a real sense of what it is like.

She would put these experiences to good use on a pair of films that directly resulted from the trip–1942’s Saludos Amigos and 1944’s The Three Caballeros . These films are positively overflowing with the emotions and experiences Blair felt on the South American trip (and a pair of trips that followed, first to Mexico in 1942 and then to Cuba in 1943). These pop with color, explode with personality, they are jaunty and jazzy and fun .

Between 1942 and 1945, 94% of all films produced by Disney were under a government contract for training and propaganda. While this might not seem like the most creatively fulfilling atmosphere, it did offer unique opportunities. “The diversifying of the business would be the salvation of it,” Blair said. Instead of the business being dependent on the success of big budget, time-consuming feature films, Walt would produce a series of “package films,” made up of shorter content. It was a loose enough framework that Blair could really play. Her work in Make Mine Music , Melody Time (where her “Blame it on the Samba” captures the spirit of her South American work and “Once Upon a Wintertime” remains iconic) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is some of her most evocative, breathtaking work.

For the live action/animated hybrid So Dear to My Heart (so dear to Disney’s heart, given his upbringing in Missouri), Blair based her work on quilts from turn-of-the-century America. In 1945 she wrote to Walt: “I have found a good book on American quilts and bought it for the studio. I think I should make a quilt now after reading it. It seems that quilt making is a revived art in this country now, which fact adds more value to its use as a medium of expression in our picture.”

It was these expressionistic detours that convinced Walt that Blair was the one to shake up the studio’s return to grand animated storytelling, Cinderella . Walt Disney biographer Neal Gabler said that Walt had Blair “return to design the characters, which she did in a delicate, almost greeting card fashion.” The other animators (mostly men) weren’t impressed. According to Gabler’s research, they “rebelled.” By this time Blair had moved away from Hollywood they had children now, Lee was serving in the military, and they were ready for the slower pace that Great Neck, Long Island, offered. Blair’s design work for Cinderella is typical: jaw-dropping without being showy, suggesting the way characters should be staged and camera angles should be framed. A fanciful dream sequence, which Canemaker suggests would have been every bit the equal of Dumbo ‘s “Pink Elephants,” was conceptualized but scrapped. Indeed, most of what Blair had worked on for Cinderella was abandoned. The movie had to be a hit, so the sharp, angular patterns and characters were discarded in favor of more rounded, naturalistic designs (based on actors who performed the entire movie for the animators). Her colors remain, and some of wit and whimsy of her environments stuck around. Walt was in awe of her, but the animators found her work troublesome and difficult to animate. Animator Ken Anderson wondered whether when you “moved” her art it might not be as “wonderful as it is static.”

More of her sensibilities make it into the intentionally surreal Alice in Wonderland and, to a lesser degree, the gently magical Peter Pan . Walt had been considering making Alice for a while, with a version being considered before production began on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (including a version that would have included live action photography of silent movie star Mary Pickford). Blair’s brand of colorful whimsy, upside-down conceptualizations, and angular sense of geography was not only essential to the film’s lengthy pre-production phase but much of it (in a modified sense) actually wound up in the finished movie. In a way, it was a movie made up entirely of the abandoned dream sequences she had devised for Cinderella .

For Peter Pan , her style took on an almost collage-like aesthetic bold, chunky, with deep shadows and high contrast. While less of her work made it into the finished film, it certainly informed the way the movie looked, particularly in its color schemes and use of lighting. Mermaid Lagoon, Skull Rock, the mischievous pixie that is Tinker Bell, these are all 100% Mary Blair. While not as much of her work would make it into the final product, as it had with Alice in Wonderland , it is still an animated classic that certainly resonates on a different level because of Blair’s contributions.

In this same period Blair had finished art directing a pair of captivating shorts (“Susie the Little Blue Coupe,” a huge influence on Disney•Pixar’s Cars films and “The Little House”). The art director role was new to Blair and she utilized it to be best of her abilities. Perhaps for the first time since the package films, her concepts and designs would be brought to life fully. (Anderson was wrong, her art was just as wonderful moving as it was static.)

Sadly, Peter Pan would end up being her last feature film for Disney.

Walt was deeply affected when she “went off to do her own thing,” according to Imagineer Marty Sklar. So much so that when he hired Eyvind Earle, whose bold, graphic approach to Sleeping Beauty was at least partially inspired by Blair’s “Little House” illustrations, he vowed to not allow the style to be softened. “For years I have been hiring artists like Mary Blair to design the styling of a feature, and by the time the picture is finished, there is hardly a trace of the original styling left,” Walt said. So he made a steadfast commitment: Sleeping Beauty , the studio’s first attempt at an animated fairy tale since Cinderella (this time utilizing 70mm film projection and an exaggerated widescreen frame), would really stick to Earle’s style. And it did.

While Blair freelanced, on everything from advertisements to set decorations (she did the designs for many of the period’s Radio City Music Hall Christmas spectaculars), she never really left Disney behind. She illustrated Little Golden Books based on Disney films and ideas, which allowed for her artwork to be properly showcased to the general public. For some, those hugely popular books were just as influential as the films themselves. Then, in 1963, she got another phone call from Walt.

Her life would be changed once again.

Walt was in a time crunch he had agreed to do a pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens that centered around the children of the world (for Pepsi and UNICEF). But he had less than a year to complete the hugely ambitious project, and wanted a sensibility that spoke to both the young and the young at heart. Remembering the fine work she had done on the post-South America projects that combined an innate understanding of specific global cultures with a universally understood playfulness, he called Blair and asked if she wanted to be a part of it. “I think it hit her at the right time, since it was about children, the freedom of color, and that Walt had asked her to do it,” Imagineer Rolly Crump later said.

And it was true–this was a perfect vehicle for Blair. She brought oodles of charm. Her designs of children, with the big saucer eyes and oversized heads, can be traced back as far as the “Penelope” short. Her graphic style would be perfect for the complex show scenes, and her attention to detail and ability to turn a complex culture into one that is easily relatable through a modern visual shorthand, was imperative for the attraction’s success. And the colors … oh, the colors.

“it’s a small world,” which would turn out to be a wildly important achievement, remains one of the purest distillations of Blair’s work. Not just her design aesthetic, although that is also at the forefront, but her emotional temperature, her unique sensibilities, and her outlook on the world. There was a reason that all of her work was so vivid and full of pizzazz: She remained hopeful, even when the world teetered on the brink. (And, in 1964, the future looked just as uncertain as when she had taken that South American trip.) When the attraction was moved to Disneyland in 1966 and greatly expanded, Imagineers like Crump worked hard to mimic the style and personality that had made the original World’s Fair experience so memorable.

When Tomorrowland at Disneyland was revamped in 1967, Blair unveiled a pair of huge murals as part of what was then known as the Tomorrowland Promenade. They faced each other one was on the building that housed Adventure Through Inner Space and the other was on the outside of the Circle-Vision 360 theater. They formed a 54-foot-long, 15 and ½ foot high “corridor of murals.” (They were covered over in 1987 and 1998, respectively, as Tomorrowland reminds us that the future is always changing.) According to Sklar, the ceramic-tile murals, depicting the smiling faces of children of every nation, weren’t damaged or removed they were simply encased. Sklar claims that somewhere, underneath new images and attractions, lies Blair’s sunny futurism. They’re “hidden treasures at Disneyland!” he enthused.

For her last Disney mural, Blair went big. She designed a ninety-foot centerpiece for the Grand Canyon Concourse atrium of Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, the Contemporary was nothing short of revolutionary–its bold geometric design, the fact that the monorail went through the hotel. In fact, part of the reason that the Contemporary looks the way it does is that because, in the early days of Walt Disney World, you could see the hotel from Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. It had to fit in with that warm vision of the future. And one of the most impressive aspects of the hotel is Blair’s centerpiece. The mural, done in the same style as her earlier Disneyland pieces, is a tribute to the Grand Canyon, featuring stylized birds, flowers, animals, and plant life. It’s inviting, playful, and totally her . Even as the scope and scale of her projects expanded, that connection to the South American trip was still present. You can see the influence in depictions of donkeys and Native American children, and with its earthy color scheme. You can also get pretty close to the mural, as it dips down to the resort’s Contempo Café. Walking through the grand atrium of the Contemporary, or even whisking by on the monorail, it’s hard not to be outright dazzled by her design. Like the hotel, she was a true contemporary, unafraid to push modernity to the forefront while still acknowledging the past.

And you can still see Mary Blair today–not only in her theme park contributions and still-in-print Golden Books–but in the retrospectives of her work that have been exhibited everywhere from Main Street at Disneyland to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, in the series of designer clothing that incorporates her sketches, in the work of the countless animators and filmmakers who strive for that “Mary Blair feeling.” In 2011, Google even dedicated one of their daily “doodles” to her. What makes her work so remarkable is that she is so easily identifiable. You can glimpse one background, one sketch, one character in an attraction, and know that it is Mary Blair’s. You can’t say that about other artists at the studio at that time, since they so wholly serviced the vision of Walt Disney. The fact that Blair could stray from the pack, take so many stylistic departures and experiment so wildly, is proof that she was a singular visionary. He work was magnificent and wholly ahead of its time. Looking back, it’s clear that she was only looking forwards.


Contents

Blair was born in Kittery, Maine, the son of Abbie Dora (née Ansel) and Captain Carvel Hall Blair. [8] [9] He is a sixth-generation naval officer and the great-great-great-grandson of Confederate Chief Engineer William Price Williamson of North Carolina, who is credited with first suggesting that the hull of the USS Merrimack be used to build the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. [10] He also counts portrait painter Charles Willson Peale and U.S. Attorney General William Wirt among his ancestors. [11]

Blair attended St. Andrew's School (1964), and, as a classmate of Oliver North graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1968. The class of 1968 at the academy also included retired Admiral Michael Mullen, the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Senator James H. Webb, and retired General Michael Hagee, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. [12]

Following his graduation from the Naval Academy, he was assigned to the guided missile destroyer USS Barney (DDG-6) . He then received a Rhodes Scholarship, reading Russian studies at Oxford University, attending during the same time future president Bill Clinton studied there. [13] He served as a White House Fellow from 1975 to 1976 with Wesley Clark and Marshall Carter.

Blair spent over 34 years in the United States Navy. He served on guided missile destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and commanded the Kitty Hawk Battle Group between 1994 and 1995. Blair commanded the USS Cochrane from 1984 to 1986 and the Pearl Harbor Naval Station from 1988 to 1989. Blair was known as a thoughtful commander, but is also remembered for moments of levity during his leadership. He is believed to be the first naval officer to ever attempt water-skiing behind his modern destroyer as skipper. [14] [15]

His last job in the military was as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, the highest-ranking officer over most of the U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region. During his tenure, he developed a series of programs and joint exercises with militaries in the region and broadened the relationships between the U.S. military and partner nations. [16] [17] [18]

Blair was in command at USPACOM when a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) J-8II interceptor fighter jet collided in mid-air, resulting in the death of a Chinese crewmember and the emergency landing of the EP-3. Following the landing, the 24 U.S. crewmen aboard were detained in China for 10 days. The so-called Hainan Island incident threatened to escalate already tense relations between the United States and China. Blair played in a key role in managing the crisis. [19]

Previously, he was Director of the Joint Staff in the Office of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, and served in budget and policy positions on several major Navy staffs and the National Security Council staff. He was also the first Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support. He retired from the Navy in 2002.

Reports of disobeying orders Edit

According to journalist Alan Nairn, during his tenure as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, Blair disobeyed orders from civilians in the Clinton administration during the 1999 East Timorese crisis. Amid growing international concern over violence against the independence movement in Indonesian-occupied East Timor, Blair was ordered to meet with General Wiranto, the commander of the Indonesian military, and to tell him to shut down the pro-Indonesia militia. According to Nairn, two days after the Liquiçá Church Massacre, Blair failed to deliver this message, instead presenting Wiranto with an offer of military assistance and a personal invitation to be Blair's guest in Hawaii. [20] Consequently, Wiranto's "forces increased the Timor killings". [21] During his confirmation hearing as Director of National Intelligence, Blair denied the accusations: "In our conversations with leaders of Indonesia, both military and civilian, we decried and said that the torture and killing that was being conducted by paramilitary groups and some military groups in East Timor had to stop" "those who say that I was somehow carrying out my own policy or saying things that were not in accordance with American policy are just flat wrong". [22] Blair was unanimously approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee, [23] [24] his tenure lasting just fifteen months, at which point he was fired, reportedly for disobeying orders from President Obama.

Conflict of interest Edit

His membership on the board of directors of EDO Corporation, a subcontractor for the F-22 Raptor fighter program, and ownership of its stock was raised as a potential conflict of interest after the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) issued a study that endorsed a three-year contract for the program. In a 2006 report, the Project on Government Oversight publicized the results of this study and exposed Blair's conflict of interest. Blair told the Washington Post, "My review was not affected at all by my association with EDO Corp., and the report was a good one". He originally chose not to recuse himself because he claimed his link to EDO was not of sufficient "scale" to require it, but he subsequently resigned from the EDO board to avoid any misperceptions.

On December 20 2006, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General's investigation into the affair found Blair had violated IDA's Conflict of Interest rules but did not influence the result of IDA's study. Blair observed, "with all due respect to the Inspector General, I find it hard to understand how I could be criticized for violating conflict of interest standards when I didn't have any influence on the study". [25]

Decorations and notability Edit

His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters (4 awards), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (4 awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal with one star (2 awards), as well as numerous other campaign and service awards. He has been decorated by the governments of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan. [26]

Retirement Edit

After retiring from the Navy, Blair held the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), [27] and the General of the Army Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at Dickinson College [28] and the U.S. Army War College. [29] He served as President of the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) from 2003 to 2007, a U.S. government think tank in the Washington, D.C. area focused on national security. He was also Deputy Executive Director of the Project on National Security Reform. [30]

Blair is now serving as the Chairman of the Board at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, a U.S.-Japan relations think tank in Washington, DC. [31] He also serves as co-chair of the Pacific Energy Summit, an annual forum that brings together key energy and environmental stakeholders from across the Asia-Pacific to discuss policies and practices needed to promote energy and environmental security. [6]

Blair is the co-head of the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property along with former governor of Utah and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. [32]

Nomination Edit

Dennis C. Blair became the third Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on January 29, 2009, after being nominated by newly inaugurated President Barack Obama. [33]

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network opposed Blair's nomination for Director of National Intelligence, saying "His actions demonstrate the failure of engagement to temper the Indonesian military’s behavior and his actions helped to reinforce impunity for senior Indonesian officials that continues to this day". [34]

During his confirmation, Director Blair indicated he did not support a domestic intelligence agency separate from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. [35] He also promised to end special interrogation regimes, believing the Intelligence Community must conduct analysis on opportunities as well as threats. [36] [37] [38] [39]

Appointment of Intelligence Community representatives Edit

In May 2009, Blair attempted to assert the DNI's role as the head of the Intelligence Community with a memo claiming authority to appoint CIA chiefs of station abroad. This was vehemently opposed by CIA Director Leon Panetta, who issued a memo of his own. [40]

Blair's two predecessors, Mike McConnell and John Negroponte, were both unable to bring this role under the auspices of the DNI, the authority to appoint chiefs of station having been the province of the CIA since 1947. [41] According to news reports, President Bush issued an executive order to give Blair his congressionally-mandated powers to force the CIA and other intelligence agencies to cooperate with his office. A number of government executives agreed that the DNI should not have to go to the President each time the DNI wants to implement guidance. [42] In late July 2009, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence backed Director Blair, asking the CIA to give "prompt adherence" to Blair's decision. [41]

However, on November 10, 2009, the White House decided in the CIA's favor, agreeing that the authority to appoint station chiefs overseas should remain with the CIA. Some intelligence experts believed this significantly weakened the DNI's authority, comparing the DNI to a DCI without an agency. [43] Senator Susan Collins of Maine expressed concerns during hearings over the botched 2009 Christmas terrorist attack that the White House had undermined the power of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence by siding with the CIA in turf disputes, specifically citing this disagreement over intelligence community appointees. [44] [45] [46] In a January 2010 statement to lawmakers by Thomas Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, who led the 9-11 Commission Report, Kean and Hamilton urged Obama to be clear who was in charge and urged a strong DNI. [47] According to The Washington Post, a former Clinton administration official suggested scrapping the DNI position if Blair were removed. [48]

Testimony on use of assassination on United States citizens Edit

On February 3, 2010, as Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair testified before Congress, "If that direct action--we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that. I would rather go into details in closed session, Mr. Chairman, but we don't target people for free speech. We target them for taking action that threatens Americans or has resulted in it." [49] [50] [51] Blair also said: "Being a U.S. citizen will not spare an American from getting assassinated by military or intelligence operatives overseas if the individual is working with terrorists and planning to attack fellow Americans." [52]

Dismissal Edit

On May 20, 2010, President Obama asked for Blair's resignation, [53] from his role as Director of National Intelligence which was tendered that day effective May 28. [54] [55] There are conflicting reports as to why Blair was asked to resign.

U.S.–France intelligence project linked to Blair's dismissal Edit

On May 22, 2010, two days after the resignation was announced, U.S. officials leaked information to The New York Times stating that Blair's dismissal had been related to his continual pushing of a U.S.–French intelligence-sharing project "with other countries". Blair and Bernard Bajolet, intelligence advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, had commenced negotiations between October and December 2009 on the pact. The treaty was to have been a legally binding reciprocal no-spying arrangement between France and the United States, whereby each country would take over operations for the other in their home-territory. Under the proposed treaty, U.S. operations in France would be run by French intelligence. This was to be a signed treaty arrangement, a more formal version than the UK–USA Security Agreement. [56] In the month before the treaty failure, President Sarkozy made a number of U.S. visits, the first visit was on March 31, 2010. [57] During the visit, Sarkozy was the first head of state invited by Obama to dine in the White House's private dining quarters. [58] Press releases from both governments made mention of the close relationship between the two heads of state. [59] Mr. Sarkozy was also in Washington for the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit from April 12–14, immediately prior to President Obama's rejection of the treaty produced by eight months of negotiations by Blair.

US officials claimed that the U.S.–France intelligence-sharing treaty had been rejected by President Obama, adding that DNI Blair's "continued pushing" for the pact after presidential rejection were grounds for his dismissal. [60] It was further claimed that President Sarkozy had been upset at the late-stage U.S. drawback in the deal. U.S. sources claimed that the treaty had been signed, despite U.S. claims that the treaty had been rejected by President Obama.

In an unusual response, the Palais de l'Elysee confirmed that such a treaty had been negotiated, adding that "we weren't the askers" in the deal, denying any French disappointment. French officials further specified that part of the U.S. offer to France comprised access to a "secure intelligence data and retrieval exchange system", [61] this being an in-progress U.S. acquisition under the auspices of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. French officials characterized the treaty as minor, stating, "nothing has changed in our relationship" in relation to the treaty failure and Blair's dismissal. [62] Officially, France denies conducting operations on U.S. soil.

Possible DNI–CIA political issues related to dismissal Edit

Matthew Aid, an espionage historian, offered a different rationale for Blair's dismissal.

According to Aid, the White House's rejection of Blair's attempt to bring the appointment of station chiefs under the DNI's authority soured Blair's relationships with Panetta, despite a long personal friendship between the two, and Obama's Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, who had sided with Panetta in the dispute (Brennan later succeeded Panetta as Director of the CIA). When it was discovered that the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting and the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 a month later could have been prevented with better inter-agency intelligence sharing, Brennan and Panetta allegedly blamed Blair (which, according to Aid, was not justified), resulting in Obama's decision to replace him. [63]


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The Blair Historic Preservation Alliance seeks to preserve the history of Blair’s structures and sites through its Historic Landmark Registry by actively researching and documenting the history of each downtown building. We have collected an extensive set of images and recollections. Please view the project’s pages and enjoy a glimpse into Blair’s past.

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