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1994: Labour chooses Blair
The MP for Sedgefield, Tony Blair, has been confirmed as the new leader of the Labour Party.

The results of the Labour Party ballot - announced just after 1200 BST at the University of London - showed Mr Blair had gained 57% of the vote in the most democratic process ever used by a British political party.

The election followed the unexpected death of former Labour leader John Smith in May.

Mr Blair made clear his intentions in a passionate first speech as leader: "I shall not rest until, once again, the destinies of our people and our party are joined together again in victory at the next general election - Labour in its rightful place in government again."

I shall not rest until the destinies of our people and our party are joined together in victory
New Labour leader Tony Blair
After a cleanly fought campaign he beat off competition from John Prescott, MP for Hull East - with 24.1% of the votes - and Margaret Beckett - MP for Derby South - with an 18.9% share.

Mr Prescott will become deputy leader after taking 56.5% of the deputy leadership ballot, compared to the 43.5% achieved by Mrs Beckett.

At 41 Mr Blair is the youngest of the eight British Labour Party leaders since World War II.

It was the first time the party's leadership has been decided by a secret ballot of all four million Labour Party members and union levy payers - without block voting by the unions.

Although only one million voted for Mr Blair and his modernising agenda, he won the race in all three electoral colleges - members, MPs and trade unions.

Tony Blair trained as a lawyer and entered Parliament in June 1983 at the age of 30. John Smith appointed him Shadow Home Secretary after Labour lost the 1992 general election.

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Tony and Cherie Blair and John Prescott
Tony Blair is the youngest Labour leader since World War II



In Context
In 1995 Tony Blair persuaded the Labour Party to remove the 77-year old Clause IV from their charter. This ended Labour's commitment to the nationalisation of industry.

He went on to lead the Labour Party to its biggest ever general election victory in May 1997, with a majority of 179.

The end of Tony Blair's first term as prime minister was beset with allegations of media manipulation and failure to deliver on key policy pledges.

In June 2001 Mr Blair and the Labour Party secured a second term in Government, with another landslide majority of 167.

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