Tony Blair took office in 1997, when President Clinton was in
the White House. He was re-elected in 2001 and has led the United
Kingdom's government since. Queen Elizabeth is the official head
of state of the monarchy, but her role is mostly symbolic.
As head of the Labour Party, Blair leads a coalition of smaller
affiliated organizations including trade unions and other socialist
groups that advocate government involvement in a democratic society.
The party, similar to the Democratic Party in the United States,
is considered to be slightly left of center on the political ideology
The Conservative Party, sometimes referred to as Tories after
the 17th-century political party from which it descended, and
the Liberal Democrats make up the remainder of Britain's three-party
system. Blair is the Labour Party's longest-serving prime minister
But Blair's main Labour support base led mass protests against
the war in 2003.
main argument for going to war, like President Bush's, was that
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That assumption
was later found to be based on faulty intelligence, and some members
of the Labour Party accused Blair of lying to the public.
One member of the British government called for Blair's impeachment
and British cartoonists drew images depicting Blair as President
Blair denies lying to voters and has said his reasons for going
to war were honest.
"I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honor, but sometimes
it is the price of leadership and it is the cost of conviction,"
Blair said at the height of the protests in 2003.
"And as you watch your TV pictures of the march, just ponder
this: If there are 500,000 on that march, that is still less than
the number of people whose deaths Saddam Hussein has been responsible
So far, 87 British soldiers have died in Iraq.