On this day: Tony Blair becomes prime minister

Tony and Cherie Blair celebrate the landslide general election that brought Labour into power on this day in 1997. Picture: Getty
Tony and Cherie Blair celebrate the landslide general election that brought Labour into power on this day in 1997. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 1 May

1517: “Evil May Day” riots in London as apprentices attacked foreign residents. Sixty rioters later were hanged.

1522: England declared war on France and Scotland.

1648: Scots began second Civil War.

1707: The Act of Union between Scotland and England came into force.

1819: Freedom of the press was introduced in France.

1840: The first Penny Black stamps with Queen Victoria’s head went on sale five days before the official issue date.

1851: The Great Exhibition was opened in Hyde Park by Queen Victoria.

1912: The statue of Peter Pan was installed in Kensington Gardens, London. JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, commissioned and paid for the statue although children were told fairies put it there.

1925: Cyprus was declared a British crown colony.

1931: President Hoover opened New York’s Empire State Building, 1,245ft high, with 102 floors.

1941: Orson Welles’s first film, Citizen Kane, was premièred.

1942: Japanese forces took Mandalay, Burma, while British retreated along Chindwin Valley to India.

1949: Britain’s gas industry was nationalised.

1961: The Betting and Gaming Act came into force, and betting shops opened in Britain.

1978: The May Day holiday was celebrated for the first time in Britain.

1982: British Vulcan bombers flew epic 3,500 miles from Ascension Island to bomb Falklands airport at Port Stanley.

1986: Millions of black people stayed away from jobs and schools in what was described as largest anti-apartheid protest in South Africa’s history.

1989: Vietnamese-installed government in Cambodia changed country’s name and flag.

1990: Secret naval documents published in The Scotsman revealed history of accidents involving the multi-million pound submarine hoists at Faslane.

1991: Government forced War Crimes Bill through, using Parliament Act for first time in 40 years to override Lords objections.

1994: World motor racing champion Ayrton Senna was killed when his car hit a wall during the San Marino Grand Prix.

1997: Seven Tory Cabinet ministers lost their seats as Labour swept back to power after 18 years in a general election landslide that saw Tony Blair become prime minister. Labour had 419 MPs in the new Parliament, Tories 165, Liberal Democrats 46 and SNP six.

2003: President George Bush declared that military hostilities in Iraq were over.

2003: Ten countries – Estonia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – joined the 25-member European Union.

2008: The Conservatives scored a resounding victory in local elections in England and Wales in which Labour’s 24 per cent of the vote cost them 331 seats and pushed them into third place behind the Tories and Liberal Democrats. A day later the Tories’ Boris Johnson unseated Labour’s Ken Livingstone as London mayor.

2011: The late Pope, John Paul II, was officially beatified at a ceremony at the Vatican in front of hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful.


Joanna Lumley OBE, actress, 68; Rodger Arneil, Scottish rugby player, 70; Julie Benz, actress, 42; Steve Cauthen, jockey, 54; Lady Sarah Chatto, daughter of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, 50; Roger Chapman, golfer, 55; Judy Collins, singer, 75; Rita Coolidge, Grammy Award-winning pianist/singer, 69; Ian Curteis, playwright and film director, 79; John Diehl, actor, 64; Tony Dobbin, jockey, 42; Prof Phillip King, sculptor, president of the Royal Academy of Arts 1997-2004, 80; Danny McGrain, Scottish footballer, 64; Una Stubbs, actress, 77; Antony Worrall Thompson, television chef and restaurateur, 63; Ray Parker junior, musician, 60.


Births: 1672 Joseph Addison, poet, essayist and co-founder of The Spectator; 1839 Hilaire, Comte de Chardonnet, rayon manufacture pioneer; 1878

James Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose, inventor; 1916 Glenn Ford, actor; 1923 Joseph Heller, author.

Deaths: 1700 John Dryden, Poet Laureate for 32 years; 1873 David Livingstone, medical missionary, traveller, philanthropist; 1904 Antonin Dvorák, composer; 1928 Sir Ebenezer Howard, founder of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden cities; 1945 Joseph Goebbels, Nazi leader; 1952 William Fox, founder of 20th Century Fox; 1994 Ayrton Senna, world motor racing champion; 1998 Justin Fashanu, footballer; 2011 Ted Lowe MBE, snooker commentator; 2011 Sir Henry Cooper OBE, British former heavyweight boxing champion.