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1994 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in London

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview held in London on Friday 6th May 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

I thought it might be useful before I departed for the Channel Tunnel opening today to say just a word or two to you about last night’s elections.

There is no point whatever in whingeing when you have had a set-back and I certainly do not do that. Last night was a poor result and it is very clear that many of our natural supporters decided on this occasion that they would stay at home. What I would like to do first is to congratulate those Councillors who won seats last night, whatever party they may represent. They have important responsibilities on local councils and I look forward to working with them in discharging those responsibilities.

May I also express my thanks to those Conservative Councillors, many of them who have served the local community for a long time, who last night were defeated in their bid to be re-elected to their own local authority. I think it is the case that they were defeated because of a national feeling and not because of a local feeling against their performance. What we must now do is work to ensure their return to office at the first possible occasion.

The Conservative Party that I care about is a good deal bigger than any election set-back. We must now pick ourselves up and fight back and that is precisely what I intend to do and I invite every Conservative to join me in that fight. I do not believe in present circumstances that the Party will forgive anyone who stands on the sidelines or utters a discordant note. Frankly we cannot afford that luxury, we have important elections immediately in front of us for the European Parliament and we must now turn all our efforts to winning those elections.

QUESTION (Michael Brunson, ITN):

Prime Minister, in case there should be any misunderstanding, can you confirm that you will stay as leader and that you will fight any challenge that may come along?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can confirm that.

QUESTION:

And you know this morning that [indistinct].

PRIME MINISTER:

I know this morning, I can confirm that. The Conservative Party have a mechanism for a challenge to the leadership of that party, that mechanism can quite properly be used by Members of Parliament. If anybody choose to engage in that fight they will find me standing there waiting for them.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are a range of issues. I think the bruises from the recession are very deep and I think people have not forgiven us for that. The economy now, I believe, is moving into a more buoyant phase that we have seen for many years, most people in business recognise that but it certainly has not rippled through to people in the High Street and in their own homes yet. I think that certainly was a very important factor. And frankly I think natural Conservative Party supporters are distressed when they see discordancy in the party.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

I regard public office not as a matter of personal pride ambition, I regard public office as a responsibility and a duty. At the last general election 14.5 million votes were cast for the Conservative Party with me as its leaders to see this country through the next few years, that is an important responsibility. We have set in place many of the policies that are now showing signs of bringing us out of recession and back to growth, I wish to see those policies through.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think you are wholly wrong about that. The economy is moving I think more speedily than many people imagine and I believe that that will become increasingly apparent in the weeks and months ahead.

QUESTION (Elinor Goodman):

[Indistinct] if the Euro-elections are as bad as these?

PRIME MINISTER:

I will meet a challenge whenever it comes.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] if so, would it be of a Euro-sceptic party or as a part of Europe party?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have agreed our manifesto, it was agreed yesterday in Cabinet, there was total agreement about the manifesto upon which we will fight the European elections. It is very clear cut, it is a distinctively British Conservative manifesto. I think it will find an echo in every part of this country, it is very, very different from the sort of manifesto that the Labour and Liberal parties will contest the election on. I relish that election campaign, there are issues of great national importance to be decided, I believe we have the right policies for that campaign and I believe we will do well in it.