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1997 - Mr Major’s Comments on the General Election

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the General Election, made during an interview in London on Wednesday 5th March 1997.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if we were going to have a Labour Government].

PRIME MINISTER:

If the opinion polls were right and they didn’t change, yes. But we are just coming up to a general election, I believe opinion will change and I believe I will win. I am not complacent about that, there is a huge amount to be done, but I certainly believe we can win this election.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he to make a bigger comeback than other Prime Ministers].

PRIME MINISTER:

Whatever happens in this election, something extraordinary is going to happen, either Labour get the biggest swing the party has had for generations to win an election, that is after all what they need, or we win for the first time in British history a fifth successive General Election. So we are very much in uncharted waters and I think we have seen that pretty much over the last couple of years.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he could convince the voters to give him another term as they thought he was clapped out].

PRIME MINISTER:

That may be your expression, I don’t think if you look at the events in the country that it stands up to any examination. What is the purpose of government? I would think the main purpose of government is to improve people’s well being and the security of a country. If you look at the well being of the country at the moment, when can most people last recall an inflation level as low as it is for a long time, growth exceeding that of any comparable country in Europe, more of our youngsters going to university, more people being treated in the Health Service, and so on? The fact is that the country has been through a difficult period, as has the whole of Western Europe, but we have emerged from it and we have emerged from it in an economic condition unmatched literally for generations. The prospects for us in the future, provided policies aren’t changed and nothing absurd happens, are brighter than anyone can remember. That is a point that will be a key subject for debate during the election campaign.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether that if the recession wasn’t his fault, nor was the recovery].

PRIME MINISTER:

The recession was created by a whole range of things, but we could have made a whole series of the wrong decisions that would have left us in recession. Since, as you concede, the recession is right across Western Europe, why have the British come out of it earlier than others, why have we come out of it better than others, who are we now out-performing other European countries? That can’t wholly be luck, it must have something to do with the decisions we have taken, and it is. And some of the decisions we have taken have been very unpopular indeed, and we have been bitterly attacked for them, which is one of the reasons for the opinion polls you referred to a moment ago. But self-evidently from what is happening in the economy, they were the right decisions.