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1995 - Mr Major’s Comments on the General Election

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the General Election, made on 22nd March 1995.


[Mr Major was asked about whether he was concerned about the General Election].

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, but the General Election is two years away. Two years before the last General Election we needed pretty much the same swing to win that we need today, and we obtained that. I am not saying I disregard public opinion in the opinion polls, of course that would be silly. What I am saying is that it is very easy to over-react to it. We live in a much more volatile political atmosphere in this country, and indeed in most of the Western democracies, than we have ever known before.

Let me give you two illustrations of that, not from the United Kingdom, just to show the point that it is not just a phenomenon here. It is only a few weeks ago in the French Presidential election, that M. Balladur was leading M. Chirac by huge amounts, the latest opinion polls have it shown the other way around in a matter of a handful of weeks. And if you go to the United States, for example, a few weeks after being elected President the Democrats lost Texas, one of their safest seats. If you go to New Zealand, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, was further behind in opinion polls than the British government are here and he won the election. So I just make the point that we live in an age where people express their concerns and frustrations in opinion polling and by-elections, and view matters in a different way when they have to make a genuine choice about who is to be the government.

So I am not complacent, I am not ignoring it, but I am not going to get myself over-fussed about mid-term opinion polls.