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From the Miners to Major: A League of Change in Recent British Politics. Jeremy Lewis PhD, Huntingdon College, For presentations at Buena Vista University,

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Presentation on theme: "From the Miners to Major: A League of Change in Recent British Politics. Jeremy Lewis PhD, Huntingdon College, For presentations at Buena Vista University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 From the Miners to Major: A League of Change in Recent British Politics. Jeremy Lewis PhD, Huntingdon College, For presentations at Buena Vista University, Iowa, Sep See

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3 John Major stereotyped as the grey man of the Tory party The whiz kid whose fast rise up the greasy pole The whiz kid whose fast rise up the greasy pole culminated in a slippery slide downwards culminated in a slippery slide downwards economic stagflation and low approval ratings economic stagflation and low approval ratings unable to prevent bickering, scandal and policy drift unable to prevent bickering, scandal and policy drift echoes of Churchills modest depiction of Atlee echoes of Churchills modest depiction of Atlee [cartoon] Major as Mr. Underpants, the spindly superhero. [cartoon] Major as Mr. Underpants, the spindly superhero.

4 PM as Mr. Underpants

5 until, that is, Edwina Curries revelations in 2002.

6 Now Sir John Major seen as the creator of Northern Ireland peace agreement the creator of Northern Ireland peace agreement the warrior of the 1991 Gulf War the warrior of the 1991 Gulf War the international statesman and peace negotiator the international statesman and peace negotiator the last successful Conservative party leader the last successful Conservative party leader returned a party to the moderate inside right electorate returned a party to the moderate inside right electorate

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8 Major in the context of British Politics PMQT shows integration of legislature and executive PMQT shows integration of legislature and executive –Commons culture of Oxford Union debating –PM confronted by MPs –articulate ministers, well informed & gladiatorial –patronage power of the prime minister –cabinet and shadow cabinet: loyal Opposition –front bench (ministers) versus backbench (MPs) –Multi-party system with cross-benchers: First Past the Post system favors Con & Lab, disfavors Lib Dems First Past the Post system favors Con & Lab, disfavors Lib Dems

9 Uncodified Constitution doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty –no supreme court, no constitutional review flexible terms of office and votes of no confidence flexible terms of office and votes of no confidence cabinets collective responsibility: government are cabinets collective responsibility: government are ministerial responsibility & resignation ministerial responsibility & resignation rise of PM and staff, public relations rise of PM and staff, public relations embourgeoisement: decline of class-based politics embourgeoisement: decline of class-based politics

10 postwar welfare state consensus: equality over individualism equality over individualism full employment over productivity full employment over productivity fair shares for all fair shares for all no jumping the queue no jumping the queue homes fit for heroes homes fit for heroes Butskellism (Butler & Gaitskell) Butskellism (Butler & Gaitskell) corporatism (tripartite economic discussions) corporatism (tripartite economic discussions)

11 1960s and 1970s, consensus declined Labour & Conservative governments Labour & Conservative governments economic deterioration economic deterioration winters of discontent 1974 and 1979 winters of discontent 1974 and 1979 bloody-minded unions & out of touch management bloody-minded unions & out of touch management Miners brought down Heath Tory government, 1974 Miners brought down Heath Tory government, 1974

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13 Thatcherism revolution: tax cuts: larger shares for some tax cuts: larger shares for some property holding democracy: shares for all property holding democracy: shares for all market forces in all institutions: scramble to head the queue market forces in all institutions: scramble to head the queue Privatization of 11% of economy Privatization of 11% of economy Broke miners union 1984 Broke miners union 1984 Over 20% shareholders Over 20% shareholders Council house sales Council house sales Self-budgeting universities and hospitals Self-budgeting universities and hospitals

14 Public Opinion: now more polarized now more polarized mostly favors postwar consensus (I. Crewe) mostly favors postwar consensus (I. Crewe) by 1990, only 17% of Tory MPs actually Thatcherite (P. Norton) by 1990, only 17% of Tory MPs actually Thatcherite (P. Norton)

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16 Understated leader sandwiched between two prima donnas not an Oxford Union debater not an Oxford Union debater Citizens Charter a minor reform Citizens Charter a minor reform Thatchers budget cuts, privatization, supply side revolution Thatchers budget cuts, privatization, supply side revolution Blairs Third Way reforms Blairs Third Way reforms

17 John Roy Majors early life, untypical British leader untypical British leader name Roynot even on birth certificate name Roynot even on birth certificate son of traveling circus performer, Tom Major-Ball son of traveling circus performer, Tom Major-Ball –Late discovery of half-siblings impoverished by unemployment impoverished by unemployment rejected as bus conductor rejected as bus conductor made garden gnomes with brother Terry made garden gnomes with brother Terry not upper middle class -- free school uniform not upper middle class -- free school uniform not Eton – just grammar school not Eton – just grammar school not Oxford – not even university (J. Callaghan) not Oxford – not even university (J. Callaghan)

18 Early Career: Banker : very successful Banker : very successful Married Norma 1970, two children Married Norma 1970, two children

19 Majors climb up the greasy pole (Disraeli) Spring 1991, most popular PM in 30 years Spring 1991, most popular PM in 30 years Prime Minister Prime Minister Leader of the Conservative Party Leader of the Conservative Party –Over Michael (Tarzan) Heseltine and Douglas Hurd (diplomatic) Chancellor of the Exchequer Chancellor of the Exchequer –first TV budget speech, TESSAs –UK joined ERM, 1990 Foreign Secretary 1989 Foreign Secretary 1989 –Chief Secretary to the Treasury Minister of State for Social Security 1986 Minister of State for Social Security 1986 Under-Sec for Social Security (welfare & OAPs) 1985 Under-Sec for Social Security (welfare & OAPs) 1985 Treasury Whip 1984 Treasury Whip 1984 Assistant Whip 1983 Assistant Whip 1983 Parliamentary Private Sec Parliamentary Private Sec MP for Huntingdon (1976) 1979, 1983, 1992, MP for Huntingdon (1976) 1979, 1983, 1992, Lambeth borough council , created housing Lambeth borough council , created housing Soap box speeches in Lambeth, Soap box speeches in Lambeth,

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21 Conservative party factions Leadership elections post 1965 among MPs Leadership elections post 1965 among MPs 1922 Committee (revolts in private) 1922 Committee (revolts in private) Thatcherite free-market insurgents (dries) 17% only Thatcherite free-market insurgents (dries) 17% only aristocratic High Tories declining (trad cons) aristocratic High Tories declining (trad cons) Hang em and flog em brigade in shires Hang em and flog em brigade in shires One-Nation moderates larger group (wets) One-Nation moderates larger group (wets) dropping leaders after lost elections dropping leaders after lost elections all included in cabinets except all included in cabinets except

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23 Major as Conservative Prime Minister, More inclusive, genteel style More inclusive, genteel style Moderates back to cabinet Moderates back to cabinet Only 47 on accession Only 47 on accession Early success with Gulf war, 1991 Early success with Gulf war, 1991 –Record popularity Abolished poll tax which had brought down Thatcher Abolished poll tax which had brought down Thatcher

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25 Unpromising re-election prospects longest recession since 1930s longest recession since 1930s consumer unconfidence 1990, Tories drooped consumer unconfidence 1990, Tories drooped Tories 30% 1990, Lab 53% Tories 30% 1990, Lab 53% voters polarized by Mrs. Thatcher voters polarized by Mrs. Thatcher Short bounces from Majors accession and Gulf War Short bounces from Majors accession and Gulf War

26 Economic policy U-turn Major eased interest rates Oct 1990 Major eased interest rates Oct 1990 Lamont increased PSBR (unThatcherite) Lamont increased PSBR (unThatcherite)

27 Won 1992 election by upset Polls predicted hung Parliament Polls predicted hung Parliament Neil Kinnocks welsh oratory Neil Kinnocks welsh oratory Labours slick American-style campaigning Labours slick American-style campaigning Majors Lambeth soap-box speechifying Majors Lambeth soap-box speechifying Majors man in the street style. Majors man in the street style.

28 Won 1992 election by upset voters lied – or opinion polls skewed? voters lied – or opinion polls skewed? Late deciders Tory Late deciders Tory best to control economy swing to Tory best to control economy swing to Tory Tories returned with small majority Tories returned with small majority Lost only 41 seats, retained 43% of vote Lost only 41 seats, retained 43% of vote

29 Economic difficulties Stagflation Stagflation Black Wednesday, 16 Sep. 1992, ERM withdrawal Black Wednesday, 16 Sep. 1992, ERM withdrawal

30 Statesmanship European engagement: European engagement: –EUs Maastricht Treaty 1992, despite –Tory bastard eurosceptic rebels (Lilley, Portillo & Howard) –Labour tactical forced vote defeat on EU Social Chapter –Major forced vote of no confidence, won by 40 –Opted out of Euro currency, protected British economy

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32 Northern Ireland Irish peace talks earned Companion of Honour Irish peace talks earned Companion of Honour –IRA ceasefire 1994 –despite mortar bombing of No.10 –denied negotiating secretly with IRA 1993 –it would turn my stomach –till exposed –Angered by Clintons reception of Gerry Adams

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34 Domestic policy issues Back to Basics campaign, 1993 Back to Basics campaign, 1993 –intended: economy, education, policing –inferred by media: trad values –scandals, sleaze and backbiting –(mistresses, Corp. directorships, cash for questions) Economic recession and stagflation 1992 Economic recession and stagflation 1992 –Changed policy –5 successive years of recovery: growth, reducing inflation and unemployment growth, reducing inflation and unemployment Economic recovery by 1997 Economic recovery by 1997

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36 Leadership of party constant backbiting from Thatcherites & eurosceptics constant backbiting from Thatcherites & eurosceptics 1995 Major resigned (but not PM position) (a first) 1995 Major resigned (but not PM position) (a first) won leadership (218 MPs) over eurosceptic Redwood (89) won leadership (218 MPs) over eurosceptic Redwood (89) Dec Cons lost majority in Commons Dec Cons lost majority in Commons economy improving, but 5 year limit on term economy improving, but 5 year limit on term

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38 May day 1997 election lost New Labour landslide. New Labour landslide. Lab 418 seats, Con 165, Lib Dem 46 Lab 418 seats, Con 165, Lib Dem 46 Lab majority 179 Lab majority Con MPs lost seats – worst in century 179 Con MPs lost seats – worst in century curtain falls, time to get off the stage & cricket curtain falls, time to get off the stage & cricket

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40 Retirement life: Backbenches, few political interventions Backbenches, few political interventions –Chancellor Lamont: Major slow Black Wed. 92 –criticized Hagues move to right –criticized Thatcher for warrior characteristics, unconservative –2005 criticized decline of civility cricket at MCC cricket at MCC declined life peerage but Knighthood of garter declined life peerage but Knighthood of garter 2002 Edwina Curries autobiography 2002 Edwina Curries autobiography Discovered half brother and half sister Discovered half brother and half sister Feb Major & Lamont held up release of papers Feb Major & Lamont held up release of papers –on Black Wednesday under FOIA Carlyle group chair Carlyle group chair Successor, William Hague, more unpopular Successor, William Hague, more unpopular

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