Tony Blair to headline Class Day

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be this year’s Class Day speaker, the Senior Class Council said Wednesday in an announcement confirming one of Yale’s worst-kept secrets in recent memory.

Rumors that Blair would speak at Class Day first surfaced more than two months ago, but Yale officials said that security concerns forbade their revealing the identity of this year’s speaker until just before the speech itself. The confirmation that Blair would indeed speak at Class Day — scheduled this year for Sunday, May 25 — was not expected until next week, but the Senior Class Council cut to the chase in an e-mail message sent to the class of 2008 on Wednesday afternoon.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair lectures at University College Hospital in London last April. A group of seniors plans to protest Blair's speech Sunday because of his role in executing the war in Iraq.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair lectures at University College Hospital in London last April. A group of seniors plans to protest Blair's speech Sunday because of his role in executing the war in Iraq.

The choice of Blair as the Class Day speaker is a logical one: The former prime minister’s son, Euan Blair GRD ’08, is about to graduate from a two-year master’s program in international relations at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Blair himself will teach a seminar at Yale next fall as a visiting fellow.

“Working closely with the Yale College Dean’s Office and the President’s Office, Senior Class officers decided that Tony Blair would be the ideal candidate to speak at our graduation,” the SCC wrote to students. “One of the world’s most influential statesmen, Mr. Blair’s dedication to public service is an inspiration to us all.”

Blair, 55, served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to last June. Following his departure from 10 Downing Street, Blair has taken up work as an envoy in the Middle East, as a consultant to several financial companies and, in his newest role, as Yale’s 2008 Howland Distinguished Fellow.

In that role, Blair will lead a course on faith and globalization at the Divinity School and School of Management and and will also participate in several public events around campus.

The Class Day ceremony — which will include heightened security and “airport-type screening” at entrances to the Old Campus — is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.


  • Recent Alum

    This is a great choice and, for once, we have a speaker who should be appealing for people of all political persuasions. As Prime Minister Blair is a former leader of the left-wing Labour Party who shares very liberal positions on most social and economic issues, he is a great choice for all of the liberals on campus. But as someone who supported the United States during the Iraq War at a time when anti-Americanism is strong in Europe, he also has earned the respect of American conservatives, even if he does not agree with them on most issues of domestic policies.

    Of course, the luckier students are still those who are not graduating and who will have the chance to learn from Blair next year, not those who just have him as commencement speaker…

  • GSAS '10

    Shame! Hopefully there'll be a sizeable boycott.

  • Class of '77

    He hardly compares to my class day speaker, B.B. King (with his guitar, Lucille). Hard to believe King was younger then (1977) than Blair is today.

  • recent alum #2

    so wait…why so much secrecy for an ex-PM who will definitely not be THAT controversial at an American college campus?? The way the SCC and Yale administration had spoken about it, I was totally expecting somebody from the Middle East or China or the Bush administration. Is Tony Blair going to demand "airport-style" security when he teaches at Yale in the fall? That said, it'll be interesting to see how (if he even bothers to bring this up) he addresses his moronic decision to back Bush up in Iraq. Even better, he can explain the logic behind the decision to make him a Mid East envoy.

  • Dear #1

    Hi Mr. Blair!

    j/k. I agree. Prime Minister Blair is an excellent choice

  • YLS '08

    Are tickets required to attend this event? It seems like Class Day is for the Yale College graduates, but I'm graduating from the law school and would like to see Mr. Blair speak.

  • B.B. King

    The thrill is gone, Tony. The thrill is gone away.

  • Anonymous

    Is there a valid reason for using the same stupid picture of Blair pointing at himself in every single YDN article about him?

  • Anonymous

    #8, reason is, it's a great pic. And it has been used in what, two articles?

  • Dear #6

    to my knowledge, all graduating yale students are invited.

  • Anonymous

    You know, it really takes amazing chutzpah to say " in an announcement confirming one of Yale's worst-kept secrets in recent memory" when YDN staff and editorial members have been ACTIVELY spreading this information for at least a week now….

  • Alum0507

    This picture is hilarious. "What's giving a Class Day speech and has two forefingers? This guy!"

  • libertarian

    Will he pontificate the virtues of big government and the wondrous centralized authority of the unelected EU bureaucrats?

    Will he address the lack of free speech in the UK over the big elephant in the room over there: Islamic migration and the effect on Anglo-Saxon culture?

  • Anonymous

    get a life

  • Anonymous

    There's a reason they chose that photo: Tony Blair is a pimp -- and his side job is "rap-master B" or simply "Tonee."

    My disappointment is not with Blair's photo but rather that there was all this fuss over who would be the graduation speaker in the first place. After all the anticipation, I was expecting God to make an appearance…

  • Anonymous

    Isn't class day speaker decided like a whiiile back? Before he got the fellowship?

  • Recent Alum

    #15: It is doubtful that God would ever be invited; He would be far too controversial a speaker for the Yale Women's Center, especially given His position on abortion.

  • Anonymous

    The picture is fine.

  • YLS


    I don't think it takes much chutzpah at all to call it a poorly-kept secret. It's not YDN's job to keep the secret; it's their job to report. Apparently the people in charge of arranging the Class Day speaker can't keep a secret, since YDN was able to get the news earlier than the announcement. They're just calling it as it is.

  • Anonymous

    As far as I know, Recent Alum, God doesn't have anything to say about abortion--and He doesn't need you to speak for Him, you self-righteous prick.

  • JHC

    and here's the guy who suggested to the City (via yale )
    immigrant ID cards
    now we have aliens with 3id cards apiece
    i guess the City made a couple of dollars
    well actualy i doubt very much that any money reached the coiffers.
    "now kids ,id money into left pocket"
    "yale's contribution into right pocket"

  • scampy

    Thanks to Tony Blair we have perverted sex taking place in public rest rooms and parks in the UK.
    Blair called off the cops to please many of the homosexuals in his government who wanted this perverted sex in rest rooms known as 'cottaging' to continue without police intervention.
    It is now wide spread in public parks and hopefully the conservative government will put the police back on duty to curb this disgusting behavor.