The Collapse of the Major Government – an occasional series part 1

22 Jan

If I had unlimited research resources I would document the chaos and confusion that killed off John Majors Government. It was awful yet entertaining. There were days when they seemed so out of control at war with each other and it dragged on and on. If ever there was an argument for shorter parliamentary terms …this was it. I had the luxury of spending 3 years at University during this time , so could often spend the time watching a disaster unfold. Newspaper claims , counter claims on Radio and TV all day.  Was it wilful , did anyone ever stop and wonder what they were doing. The pinnacle of British Politics were just name calling and pulling faces.

Just to be clear I couldn’t stand them one bit, but they had the quality of those old you’ve been framed videos. Yes you know the Cat is going to hit the window, yes you know it will hurt and has no positive benefits, but you also hold in a snigger.

So without the resources I will post an occasional series here….

I was reading something in Gyles Brandreths Diaries the other day. Brandreth to me is the ultimate chronicler of the incompetence, pointlessness and chaos of the Major years. He mentioned  a spat on the 19th of Feb 1997. Not one I recall( I was then working !). It started with Rifkind the Foreign Secretary saying he was hostile towards the Single Currency. It then led to Clarke the Chancellor saying it must have been a slip of the tongue. Then No 10 made a series of ambivalent statements until finally , after a” Rifkind vs. Clarke its war ” headline in the Standard they all make up and apologies and move on. Until the next day when Geoffrey Howe disowns the Government and Tony Blair embarrasses it at Question Time.

The interesting thing is this day happened many times. The Single Currency was a policy area Major failed to own like oh so many others. Somehow though he approached it like someone testing their ability to take an illicit drug. He dances around it , watches it..becomes mesmerised…and yet he thinks he’s strong. Day in Day out the government changed its language …wait and see…negotiate and decide…sleep and toss a coin…pretend we give a shit…all very important though meaningless approaches. Cabinet met and agreed a formulae time after time only for someone to break it instantly. And Major he just sat back and let it roll. He even hinted at changes himself…a silent sceptic. Nudging to his supporters…I hate it but I cant say it. Labour on the other hand quite dispassionately just said we will treat it on its merits at the time and seemed to sail to the election line. Major you see was weak, possibly vulnerable( if only we knew then !) and I personally believe didn’t have any fixed firm ideological views. A puppet leader…only a leaderless puppet leader at best.

 

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