Dec. 4, 2007

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair
to receive Tower Center's Medal of Freedom

Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tony Blair will be awarded the Medal of Freedom from Southern Methodist University’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies during formal ceremonies on March 5, 2008.

Tony Blair

The Center, which educates undergraduates in international relations, comparative politics and political institutions, presents the Medal of Freedom every two years to an individual “who has furthered the cause of freedom throughout the world.”

Blair will be the sixth recipient. Previous honorees include General Colin L. Powell in 1997, Baroness Margaret Thatcher in 1999, President George H. W. Bush in 2001, General Tommy R. Franks in 2003 and John McCain in 2005.

Blair served as prime minister from 1997 to June 2007, leader of the Labor Party from 1994 to 2007 and member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007. On the day he stepped down as prime minister, he was appointed official Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East on behalf of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

Tony Blair was elected leader of the Labor Party in July 1994 following the sudden death of his predecessor, John Smith. Under Blair's leadership the party abandoned many policies that it had held for decades. Labor won a landslide victory in the 1997 general election, which ended 18 years of rule by the Conservative Party with the heaviest Conservative defeat since 1832.

Blair was the Labor Party's longest-serving prime minister and the only person to have led the Labor Party to three consecutive general election victories.

The Tower Center is named in honor of SMU alumnus John G. Tower, who served as U.S. senator from Texas 1961-1985. His public service career included appointments as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Chair of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and strategic nuclear arms negotiator with the Soviet Union.

For more information about the presentation ceremony, call 214-768-8283.

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