‘I was not born into the Labour Party’, Tony Blair famously told his party conference in 1995. This simple statement goes some way to explain both the successes and the failures which he experienced in the ten years following his election as Labour leader in 1994. What he was born into, on 6 May 1953, was a somewhat tangled family tree. His an actor, Charles Parsons (stage name: Jimmy Lynton), and Celia (Gussie) Ridgeway, an actress, who came from a wealthy landowning family but was living a vagabond life with two early marriages and numerous affairs to her name. Three years after Leo was born, now divorced from her second husband, she and Parsons legitimised their liaison, but had already passed on the infant Leo to foster parents in Glasgow, James Blair, a shipyard worker, and his wife, Mary, a dedicated Communist. Leo, who was brought up in a Council tenement block, left school at 14 to work as a clerk for the Glasgow City Corporation, and for three years was secretary of the Scottish Young Communist League. In 1942, aged 18, he joined the army as a private, but by the time he was demobilised, in 1947, he had risen to the rank of major, with a fierce determination to make his way in the world.
KeywordsOpinion Poll Party Leader Labour Government Labour Party Labour Leader
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