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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview, held on Friday 12th January 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he thought of Margaret Thatcher’s speech].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think she will be very surprised by what she reads this morning. She said two things, first the huge danger of having a Labour Government and the way in which they would throw away what has been achieved in the last sixteen years. That is undoubtedly true and was set out very clearly in the remarks she made yesterday. Second, what is necessary to make this country prosperous. Some of the things she was talking about are already underway, improving prosperity for everyone, whatever class they may be. The economy is now in a state where we are able to return to a tax cutting agenda and able to improve public services.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he was failing the middle classes].

PRIME MINISTER:

The incentives and opportunities are there at the moment. Ask people up and down the country what they want, they want opportunities for better and more secure employment. We have done better than any other European country. No other European country has as much of its adult population in employment as we do. They want to see crime falling. It is falling for the first time in 40 years. There is clear evidence of that. What you need to deliver prosperity to people is a secure economy that will last. We have delivered one out of a very difficult recession. We have delivered a platform for prosperity that we have not seen equalled for forty years. And I am going to build on that platform for prosperity. I do not intend to be pushed off course.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what was meant by the term “No Nation Conservatism”].

PRIME MINISTER:

There are no “no nation” Conservatives. The Conservative Party has always been a one nation party. It is exactly what I’ve just been talking about. An inclusive society dealing with the problems people face. Things like crime, problems like jobs. Problems like achieving and maintaining prosperity, it has been a one nation Conservative Party since the beginning of time. Who could suggest differently? How could one possibly have a two nation party of any sort?

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether Margaret Thatcher has any relevance any more].

PRIME MINISTER:

Lady Thatcher is a very important part of the Conservative Party. As I’ve been saying for a long time the Conservative Party is a broad church and everyone part of it has an input into our policy. But when it has had that input we set out what our policy is and we live and win in the centre right of politics. We are dealing with giving people a proper place in the future of this country. And by a proper place I don’t mean allowing others to be taking decisions for them, I mean introducing the lowest possible taxes so they can take their own decisions. I mean achieving the greatest possible personal ownership and opportunity so that they can take their own decisions. That’s what we’ve been seeking since 1979, it’s what we are doing now and it’s what we are going to go on doing.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if Margaret Thatcher had damaged party unity].

PRIME MINISTER:

I read the speech and I rather imagine Lady Thatcher will be baffled by much of what she will have read this morning. What she was indicating in her speech yesterday was the damage to this country of a Labour Government. Now I share that view very strongly. No-one should think that the gains of the last 16 years would necessarily be safe under anything other than a Conservative Government. Lady Thatcher wants a Conservative Government just as much as I do. And that’s what we’re going to have.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked to comment on the reports that Germany might fail to meet the targets for economic convergence for the Euro].

PRIME MINISTER:

I am surprised you say the latest news from Germany. If I may remind you, I have been saying not particularly in the case of Germany that I’ve been looking at the issue of convergence criteria for many years. I said at first it will not be done in 1997, others said, “yes it will, the European bus will roll on”, but it didn’t. I was right and they were wrong. They have been saying consistently they will be reached in 1999. I’ve been saying well, maybe, maybe. But not certainly. And now it looks increasingly across Europe others are starting to have doubts as well.

It may yet turn out that we were right and other people were wrong. But whether they meet in 1999 or later, is not actually the important fact. The important fact is were the criteria to be met will the changes be good for this country and Europe and what will the impact be if some countries go ahead to a single currency and others don’t. And my alarm about the policy that is being developed by our European partners is that in my judgement they simply haven’t examined carefully enough and in the right sort of detail what the impact of this policy is. I want Europe to succeed because we’re part of it. But I don’t intend to stand to one side and watch them proceed with developments if they’re not in the general interest of Europe. And the case for progressing at the moment is empathically not yet made.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if that would be accepted by all wings of the Conservative Party].

PRIME MINISTER:

Don’t ask me about the left, centre left and the right of the party. It is the right stance for this country. I’m here in Downing Street to do what is right for the country. I’ve set out what I believe to be right. I will fight for what I believe to be right. And I will not be pushed off what I believe to be right. That’s why I have not taken short-term popular decisions.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the date of the General Election].

PRIME MINISTER:

I expect there will be an election next year. There will have to be one before May next year.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he would rule out holding a General Election in 1996].

PRIME MINISTER:

I could never rule out one, but I think there will be one in the early part of next year.