1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Mr Major’s article on Parliamentary Standards, published in The Daily Telegraph on 22nd February 2005. The article was entitled “Labour’s half-
Since leaving office, I have not sought publicity. Even when provoked I have usually kept my counsel. Yet the changing character of the way politics is conducted is an issue on which it would be wrong to remain silent. The turnout at the last election was pitiful and is likely to be even more so at the next one – probably below that in Iraq, where voters ran the gauntlet of bomb and bullet. In one of the world's most secure democracies, how can such disillusion have set in?
One cause is the way politics is conducted. It is a robust trade and can be tough, heartbreaking, even bitter. Politicians cannot squeal about this: we knew the rules when we joined up.
Even so, certain standards must be maintained. As Gladstone put it 125 years ago, our constitution depends "on the good sense and good faith of those who work it". More specifically, our ancient system requires a respect for Parliament; strict impartiality in a Civil Service that must serve different political masters; a tolerance of opposing views; and a code of behaviour between parties that imposes restraints on how hostilities are conducted.
New Labour has undermined all these conventions. Anything goes if it serves its purpose. Its tactics have been so brilliantly effective against its political opponents that New Labour now uses them against all-
A careful look at New Labour shows an administration divided into two camps: Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's. Attlee once remarked that "nothing grows under a heavy roller". Under two heavy rollers -
New Labour's style of governing has emasculated decision-
How have they got away with it? They have abused procedures wherever they can; politicised a once-
The lopsided composition of the Commons has made it easier for the Government to deal in half-
If the facts don't fit the argument, then the facts become flexible. It is Orwellian. Words mean what they wish them to mean. Bad news is good. Up is down. Black is white. Fiction is fact. It is no wonder that, to a bewildered public, trust has collapsed.
"Trust me," said Tony Blair back in 1997, "we'll be whiter than white … purer than pure."
Well, that is yet another promise not kept. The Government is now so lost to political black arts that it may never be able to find its way back to straightforward dealing.
Two years ago, I set out my concerns. Now, once again, what I see unfolding fills me with dismay. Alastair Campbell, now back as the Prime Minister's spin-
It doesn't matter which trickster is deployed to sully the name of political opponents -
But the identity of the spinner is a side issue. He is merely a mercenary, a hired hand. It is not the monkey, but the organ-
It is easy to mock the Prime Minister's depiction of himself as a "straight kind of guy", but, to him, it is a self-
It has led it, when criticised, to play the man and not the ball, in a reflex action that has proved a mightily effective tool in warning off critics. It is a shabby way to conduct a democratic debate. Such tactics are a cancer in the body politic. The Prime Minister cannot avert his eyes -
Every time the Government has been caught out, it promises that lessons have been learnt. We're told the Prime Minister is "listening". That he "understands". That we should "move on". It is nonsense, of course. The script soon changes. Within weeks, New Labour is back to its old ways.
Such behaviour cheapens our politics and leads the political system to become further detached from the electorate. We cannot afford that. Nor can our system of government thrive if the tried and tested conventions that protect it from abuse continue to be thrown so casually aside.
When the Prime Minister has left the corridors of power far behind him, he will reflect and, unless he acts now, will regret -