1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s article on Gordon Brown, published in the Daily Telegraph on 7th May 2009.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
In recent days, there have been many comparisons drawn between the present plight of the Labour Government and the final months of its Conservative predecessor. Similarities there may be -
The Conservatives were in their 18th year of government: Labour is in its 12th. The Conservatives had no majority, and were at the mercy of a handful of rebels: Labour still enjoys a large majority. Conservative divisions were over policy -
In the mid-
Throughout the 1992-
Labour, by contrast, has retreated to tactics I believe they will live to regret. Too often, in the face of public hostility, they cite the last Conservative government as a precedent, the not-
It is not convincing. Take the roasting they received for mishandling the Gurkhas: Labour's defence was that the Conservative government "had never done anything about it". Nor had earlier Labour governments, and for the same reason: it had not been an issue. And if it had been an issue, why was there not a peep from Labour about it in the 1990s? Opposition days in Parliament are not a New Labour invention.
After 12 years in office, excuses such as this are bordering on the desperate.
Why do they do it? Habit, of course, for fact has never got in the way of New Labour fiction -
And it is continual. Since the Prime Minister can no longer defend Labour policies, he attacks a fictional Tory past at almost every Prime Minister's Questions. To Mr Brown, the Tories are the enemy, therefore any criticism -
But Mr Brown doesn't care: he simply wants to smear Mr Cameron for events over which he knows he had no control. The premise of his argument is also incorrect: interest rates were not raised to 15 per cent by Norman Lamont in the 1990s, but by Nigel Lawson in the 1980s. As chancellor, Norman reduced them from 14 per cent to 6 per cent.
The Prime Minister is wrong about unemployment, too. First, a pedantic point: it did not reach three million under the Conservative government, but peaked well below. Furthermore, it was rising sharply long before Norman Lamont became chancellor, and David Cameron his adviser. Mr Brown knows all this, yet persists with charges that are fundamentally unworthy.
And he is not alone. Other ministers continue to claim that Labour inherited three million unemployed whereas, in 1997, the claimant count was 1.6 million and falling rapidly.
But Labour has not won three elections by allowing truth to get in the way of a good smear. The uncomfortable reality for Labour is that, however unpopular the last Conservative administration may have been, it was the only government in the last 50 years to leave office with every single economic indicator improving.
Even so, the estimate for the current year is a staggering £175 billion. Similarly, total debt has doubled, and the taxpayer will be funding Labour's debt mountain for many years to come.
That the Conservatives bequeathed such a buoyant economy is not a truth universally acknowledged, for -
Did Labour build on that legacy? No. Instead, they squandered it, and will leave the country near bankrupt as a result. This slide from riches to rags inspires another Labour deception: that our present woes are entirely due to the financial crisis that began in America. Of course, there is an international dimension, but Labour's alibi is -
The Prime Minister hopes to win the next election but, in his heart, he must recognise his party is likely to lose. I offer him one piece of genuinely well-
It may not win Labour the next election, but Gordon Brown will leave office a more contented man.