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The reason we let them get away with it is that we were more interested fighting battles with one another than our opponents.
Its evident reading the threads on this site there are more than a few Conservatives who have learnt nothing over the last ten years.

Jack Stone @ 14.12:

Spot on Sir. Blair has been forced out by his own party, not by ours, and heaven knows he's given us plenty of opportunities. Lets try and remember who the real enemy is here.

Don't agree with you about Major - he was chronically let down firstly by the electoral system (14 million votes and a majority of just 21!?!) and then by the disgraceful behaviour of 80 backbench MPs.

I do agree with the later points about the Conservative Party letting Labour get away with the last 10 years. It is a source of immense disappointment and frustration to me that we will not have beaten Blair.

What is totally obvious to me, however, is that the conservative movement is far more powerful than the new Labour one. When we finally decide that we actually want to beat Labour we will do.

Hear hear Antony Calvert.But the big question have we decided we actually want to win? The conference next week will be a good indicator I think.

Antony Calvert @15.53
Yes, I agree that the Conservative movement is stronger. I think that Britain has always been inherently conservative with a small 'c'. After all, at the last election, we had a majority of votes within England, and England still returns the largest number of MPs to Westminster.

I think that we DO want to beat Labour. There is nothing wrong with internal debate about our policies (or lack of them) but we would all do well to remember who our enemy is. I feel let down by DC on many many issues, but still would rather have him in No. 10 than Blair/Brown/Read/Milburn/Johnson. As a party, we should capitalise on the fiasco that is this government. That does mean working together to defeat them, not petty in-fighting.
We won't agree about Major, but that's the past. lets all try and look to the future.

Btw Jon, I'm beginning to think your bet on Reid to beat Brown is not as stupid as it was when you made it! My wallet is worried.

Malcolm, don't panic yet, still early days. However, you were sensible to insist that I picked Reid rather than 'anybody but Brown'. Should I collect, I'm sure that your wallet can stand it!!!!

Anthony Calvert - Your "the disgraceful behaviour of 80 backbench MPs" is standing the truth on its head. That 80 would have been many more had the "government vote" not - as they had to - backed Major.

And those 80 are the ones who saved the party's honour while Major was chucking away our sovereignty without a referendum in the bitterly opposed (in the party at large) Maastrict Treaty. Almost all the party's troubles stem from that betrayal.

Christine speight @ 17.05:

I agree totally. For me, the Major years were a disaster for the party, and not great ones for the country.

But please, that's gone. It's the past. It's finished. We can keep navel gazing all we want, and debate the rights and wrongs, but surely it will be more constructive to look to the future.

I agree it's unhelpful to dwell too long on the past but it is worth reminding the Christina's of this world that ratification of the Maastricht Treaty was actually in the Conservative Party Manifesto for the 1992 election. All this guff about 'treachery' etc. is therefore, just that, guff.

standing the truth on its head

I'm sure we've been through this before...

From 325-ish Conservative MPs there were only 22 Maastricht Rebels, but they were so hell-bent on defeating their own government that they'd do things like secretly stretcher-in Bill Walker from his hospital bed. Even after John Major re-won his mandate in a leadership election, these rebels continued to do everything they could to harass the government. But in your eyes that was all excusable and it was John Major (and presumably the other 323) that did the betrayal. Ain’t it a topsy-turvy world?

Umm, not sure about that Mark. There were 22 Mastricht Rebels - OR there were only 22 of those who opposed the treaty that dared to put their head above the parapet. I would argue that many more were against it, but didn't have the b***s to make a stand.
It was passed only when Major turned it into a confidence vote, knowing that with the labour lead in the polls at that time, turkeys would not vote for Christmas.

I do know that most of the Rebels actually read the Treaty, something that one of it's greatest supporters (Clark) admitted that he had not even done!

I repeat. Ratification of Maastricht was in our 1992 election manifesto. None of the rebels suggested they would vote against the manifesto when elected in 1992. As Mark says, it's a topsy turvy world when you're a traitor for implementing the manifesto upon which you won an election. Quite how one could do anything else and not resign, I don't know.

Gareth is spot on... plus let us not forget that Major secured perhaps the greatest ever negotiated settlement for this country in his Maastricht diplomacy. The Social Chapter would have devastated us during the worldwide recession of the early 90's.

I read with interest the blinkered view some people have of the 1992-97 parliament and our attitude to Europe. The fact is that we were far more effective in summits and bilaterals during this period than at any point during Labour's rule.

Jon hits the nail on the head when he states we should look forward. I dislike the country at the moment. I dislike our values, our culture, our 'society' and our standing in the world.

I don't hold Christina to blame for this, or any other conservative (or Conservative for that matter) who wants to continue the internal debates/squabbles that have paralysed us in the past. I place the blame for the awful state of this country squarely with Tony Blair and the Labour Party.

I am looking forward to conference more and more after hearing Blair's speech.

I must confess that until pointed out by Gareth I did not know that Mastricht ratification was in the 92 manifesto. I concede that point.

(But then wasn't withdrawal from the EU part of Labour's 83 and 87 manifesto? Many current Labour MPs (Brown/Blair/Reid for sure) fought on that. What a shame they didn't carry it through like Major did!)

There were 22 Mastricht Rebels - OR there were only 22 of those who opposed the treaty that dared to put their head above the parapet.

Yes, but it's a pretty big leap to get from 22 to the 160 figure that would have put them in a majority within their own party.

I'd also question whether there was a parapet. Being a Maastrict Rebel didn't seem to harm IDS, Liam Fox, Alan Duncan, David Willetts, etc.

It destroyed IDS. His leadership was constantly undermined by those (Clark and Portillo) who felt he had betrayed the party on this issue.

You're right, there probably weren't enough dissenters to get to the 160 figure. BUT, there were certainly enough to ensure that it would never have been passed in the house, when combined with the opposition votes.

His leadership was constantly undermined by those (Clark and Portillo) who felt he had betrayed the party on this issue.

You reap what you sow!

Quite right Mark.

It always amused me to hear IDS making precisely the same vain pleas for loyalty that John Major had made to him and his ilk.

Gareth... did you notice Major's attitude during that time?? He could quite easily stuck the knife in and sought revenge for IDS's rebellious early years, but he didn't.

He was the epitome of what I class as a statesman.

Yes. Major has consistently been a model of how an ex-leader ought to behave. Unlike a certain other former Prime Minister who has thrown in her tuppence at every opportunity.

He could quite easily stuck the knife in and sought revenge for IDS's rebellious early years, but he didn't.
He did leave the House of Commons at the 2001 General Election, as I recall it he backed Kenneth Clarke for the leadership, he mostly kept quiet but then again after a rather tumultuos 5 years from 1997 he no doubt got rather fed up with frontline politics - it has to be said that he brought on a lot of the trouble by trying to pretend to be playing hardball on the EU and actually turning out to go along mostly with what the EU was proposing and perpetuating what remains so far since 1970 a continual capitulation and surrender to the EU by each successive government.

Maastricht Major was disloyal to his country, and therefore deserved no loyalty from any patriotic Briton, regardless of party membership.

It's true that on the whole he has (wisely) kept his mouth shut. Possibly he's afraid that there are more Currie-style revelations waiting to appear should he ever hog the limelight again.

Antony Calvert: "I dislike the country at the moment. I dislike our values, our culture, our 'society' and our standing in the world."

So do I, Anthony.

But wasn't it David Cameron who said we should be proud of "Modern Britain" or something of that sort?

It was one of the first things about Dave that really set my teeth on edge.

I prefer William Hague's use of the term "a foreign land".

I wish we did not have a foreign Tory cabinet!

Fred, I am totally lost by what you mean by that post. Could you possibly shed some light on it?

Gareth - I see where you are coming from, and I was as frustrated as the next man at her treatment of Major... but I can forgive the Lady as she did save this country.

Monday Clubber - Major was not disloyal. Thatcher didn't hold a plebicite on the Single European Act, which devolved far more powers to Europe, so why should Major over Maastricht. Isn't this what you voted for in 1992? Or did you not vote Tory in 1992?

I have to admit that William Hague's 'Foreign Land' speech made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. He really was the best PM this country never had.

Yet Another Anon - You must know that an ex-PM can wield far more damage out of parliament than in. Thatcher taught us that! Major acted with the interests of the party at heart, I am convinced of that.

Antony - there is no bigger fan of the great Lady than. I truly think that she did save the country.

However, her record on the EU is not good. Yes, she did get our rebate (recently surrendered by Blair) but you are quite correct that the Single European Act signed away many more of our powers than Mastricht and there was no vote. Likewise, I don't remember her speaking out against Mastricht at the time. Also, it was under her premiership (albeit Major's Chancellorship) than we joined the ERM.

All of this was wrong. But two wrongs do not make a right, and does not excuse Major not giving the population the same opportunity as Danes, French, Irish etc to vote on the issue. He didn't, because he knew that he would lose. So, by my thinking, for a PM to force something onto the nation that he knew a majority of the population (in addition to a sizeable minority in his own party) didn't want, WAS an act of disloyalty. The fact that Lady Thatcher also did it does not make it any less of a mistake.

Jon... if the people didn't want Maastricht they could have voted against the 1992 manifesto. Maastricht wasn't as far reaching in its consequences as the SEA or the European Constitution.

A referendum is also enormously expensive.

I have to admit that Thatcher allowed herself to be led by the nose over the EU. However many of us were a bit green on the issue at the time.

By the time Major had succeeded her, after she had realised her mistakes and taken a courageous stand against the EU, there was no excuse at all.

Major was very possibly the worst and most ineffectual PM since records began. We only supported him because he was supposed to be "Son of Thatcher" and he then proceeded to debauch her legacy.

Personally I would like to have seen the Conservative Party renamed the Thatcherite Party, somewhat on the model of the Gaullistes in France.

It would have set a gold standard to which all future Tories would have been expected to adhere.

Monday Clubber - You're not called Andrew Rosindell by any chance, are you?

No he's a troll Antony.I'm an admirer of John Major and think him easily the most decent man to lead the Conservative party in my lifetime. But the failure to hold a referundum on Maastricht was monumental.The party was obviously hopelessly split and the attempts to paper over the cracks were doomed to failure.
The idea that this couldn't happen because of a manifesto is laughable.

Malcolm, I don't anyone would disagree that John Major was a decent man. Sadly, he was also innefectual, weak, and really not up to the job. He only ever won anything because of who he wasn't, not who who he was. (He wasn't Heseltine, he wasn't Kinnock). He made disasterous cabinet appointments (Lamont for example), and then lead (of sorts) the party to it's worst ever election defeat of the 20th Century. It was he who, as Chancellor (albeit under the leadership of Mrs. Thatcher) who took us into the ERM. It was he who destroyed the party's perception in the eyes of the public for sound economic management with the events of Black Wednesday. It was that which hurt us more in the eyes of the voters more than the Maastricht debacle, although Maastricht had worse and further reaching consequences for the nation.

Being a 'decent man' is not enough. IDS was also a 'decent man'. Sadly he too was not up to the job, and he too got it because of who he wasn't. (Ken Clark). We need leadership, and though I disagree with much of what DC says, he IS providing that.

The point I made earlier stands. Britons like strong leadership. Much as I despise Blair for what he has done to the country (much worse than Major), one has to credit him with strong leadership. We, as a party, can learn from this.

Er,big difference Jon.Major had a majority of 21 (at best).Maggie had a majority of over a hundred in her second two terms and as for Blair before the Iraq war he was a complete political coward. It's easy to lead when you have a massive majority.
Not everyone on this site thinks Major was a decent man,Christina Speight was even more deranged than usual recently,according to her he's 'evil'!

Sorry Malcolm, don't quite see the point. Yes, Major didn't have a majority the size of Lady Thatcher's. But he did have a majority. When he left office his leadership had resulted in the biggest minority for a long long time for the Tories. You should know, we watched those election results together.

Of course strong leadership is easier if you have a bigger majority. I would argue that Lady Thatcher had a bigger majority BECAUSE she provided strong leadership.

Blair has always been a political coward. However, he has lead his party with an iron hand, tolerated little in the way of dissent, and been perceived as a strong leader as such. In the main, under Blair, Labour has been united. Compare that to the in-fighting that Major could not control, and indeed what has followed since Major went.

I am no fan of Tony Blair. While today's national front pages are all about TB's valedictory speech, the front page of the daily newspapers in Cumbria are about the local ambulance HQ facing the axe. As I've said in more detail on my blog, if you asked most Cumbrians which anticipated departure they regret more, Tony Blair's of that of our 999 ambulance response centre, I doubt if many of them would vote for Blair.

But it would be silly to suggest that someone who won three elections has done nothing we can learn from. That's even if you set aside those characteristics, like his ability to convince first himself and then his listeners that black is white, which we wouldn't want to learn from.

There is one strength in particular which Blair has, David Cameron has, where Gordon Brown lags behind and most of the rest of us could learn something, and that is the ability to come over as positive and constructive rather than negative or worst, consumed by hatred.

Of course the truth is that Blair uses proxies like Campbell and Mandelson to plant the most vindictive campaigns of character assassination, but Blair himself almost invariably manages to come over as positive, and lots of the electorate like that.

Now I think the vast majority of people involved in politics are carried forward by a mix of motives and emotions, and one of the most effective is anger. I know that anger at some of the things I regard as wrong - such as the way Brown wrecked the pensions industry - is one of the most powerful of my own motivations and this is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you keep focussed on doing something constructive to right the injustice which made you angry.

But many voters are deeply alarmed by any politician who seems to be mainly motivated by anger or hatred, and they are probably right to be.

As Blair starts his awful long-drawn out goodbye I think that our best chance of making sure that we are in a position to undo some of the damage he has done is to copy, certainly not his policies, but his relentless skill at being positive. And hopefully a bet better than he was making positive policies which will actually improve things in the real world.

Jon - Forward not Back.

""Malcolm, I don't anyone would disagree that John Major was a decent man."

Major was foul-mouthed, vindictive, and as we now know, immoral as well.

He was also no Conservative – just another petit-bourgeois political nobody on the make - and his knowledge of political philosophy and for that matter economics could have been written on the back of a postcard.

Once, I recall, he proudly announced that somebody had tipped him off about some apposite quotation of Burke, the one about the "importunate chink of the grasshoppers".

I must admit there was something almost touching in Major's blissful ignorance of the fact that the hackneyed quotation would have been well known to any politically active individual with a half-decent education.

On another occasion, in a direct reference to house price inflation, Major drivelled about his "dream of wealth cascading down from one generation to another". Presumably this pernicious nonsense was written by some speechwriter, but he must still take the blame for it.

The totally meaningless word "decent" is inevitably and predictably applied to him by his apologists. I suppose it the best that they can come up with; a kind of euphemism for "feeble", "ineffectual" etc.

I despised Major, and still do. If you seek a culprit for the Tory years in the wilderness you need look no further.

"But many voters are deeply alarmed by any politician who seems to be mainly motivated by anger or hatred"

That is a straw man argument Chris. Brown may not smile much, but there isn't the slightest evidence that he is motivated by anger or hatred. If anything, a distinct lack of passion is his hallmark.

Cameron, also, shows little sign of genuine passion either. What was produced for the party conference last year was totally ersatz.

Actually vast numbers of politicians worldwide have risen to power by preaching messages of envy, hatred, and revolutionary zeal. Less true in middle-class Britain, I grant you, but with the possible exceptions of the BNP and Respect nobody is attempting hate-politics anyway, so once again a straw man rears its head.

Maybe I'm just a bit jaundiced, but your arguments seem to come somewhat out of the same stable as the downright nonsense about "The Nasty Party".

Hearing your attacks on 'modern Britain' Monday Clubber, I think 'nasty party' is all too apt. The fact that you choose to name yourself after an organisation with a 'send-them-home' immigration policy is yet further prove of the sort of country you want to see.

Well Gareth, the fact that you display such lamentable ignorance - in your spelling as well as your opinions - is no doubt an indictment of the appalling state of the education system in "Modern Britain"/"Blair's Britain" (the two phrases are interchangeable)

The Monday Club has never proposed a "Send 'em home" immigration policy. That's the prerogative of the BNP. However, it has consistently, and rightly, called for immigration to be drastically reduced.

"Nasty" or otherwise, this policy has always commanded wide public support, so it would seem that it is you that is out of step with public opinion.

As it happens, our 2006 AGM was attended by several members of Visible Ethnic Minorities, all Club members. The rather unpleasant subtext of your post therefore has no validity whatsoever.

Oh dear, oh dear, Monday Clubber.

Perhaps your memory needs jogging:

"Iain Duncan Smith yesterday launched a purge of rightwing extremists when he suspended the Monday Club from the Conservative party.
During a "frank" meeting, the Tory chairman, David Davis, told the club's board that he was severing its links with the party until it stopped promoting inflammatory views on race, such as the voluntary repatriation of ethnic minorities."

Inflammatory views on race? Voluntary repatriation? The Monday Club certainly stands for more than just 'curbs' on immigration.

As for the quality of my education, I'll trade CV's with you any day of the week. I very much doubt you'll better me.

That was something of a sham, though, Gareth. AFAIK, no one was actually "purged" for being a member of the Monday Club, and Conservative Peers and MPs speak at Monday Club meetings.

That may or may not be the case. I was simply refuting Monday Clubber's partial description of his organisation's views on immigration.

IDS started by describing the Monday Club as (from memory) "In a way what the Conservative Party is all about".

Exactly what prompted him then to proceed to attack the Club I cannot say. At any rate IDS is gone, and the Club is still here, fully functioning and indeed with an increased membership since the IDS "purge"

This "purge" indeed seems to have been primarily for press consumption. All MC members are required to be members of the party and none have been expelled for extremism or any other breach of the rules.

Perhaps our well-educated Gareth can explain to us how that constitutes a "purge" at all?

Gareth's description of Club policies is wildly inaccurate and comes, needless to say, third hand from some press report.

The Club has no inflammatory policies on race. As far as I am aware government help already exists for those who seek voluntary repatriation.

The Club's policies on immigration have remained the same for several decades. They did not alter at the time of the election of IDS who, I may remind you, had a number of right-wing links in his own background.

As for the quality of your education, Gareth, I can only judge it by the quality of what you write here, much of which would not have been tolerated at my alma mater

At last! An admission as to your real policy on immigration: 'voluntary repatriation'. How stomach churningly disgusting.

The quotation as to the nature of your organisation's views on race comes from David Davis by the way. Not a Guardian reading lefty.

One need only have a modicum of imagination to guess what the nature of debate about immigration is like at your gatherings. I can imagine you all weeping into your port as you dream about the Empire and Margaret Hilda.

At last! An admission as to your real policy on immigration: 'voluntary repatriation'. How stomach churningly disgusting.

Voluntary repatriation is actually part of the current immigration and nationality legislation.

Precisely, Long Memory.

The attack on the Monday Club was part of a carefully choreographed and deeply cynical masquerade which encompassed such other milestones as "The Nasty Party" and the birth of the Cameron industry.

Do you look for proof of this cynicism?

As Gareth has allegedly been educated to a world-beating standard he is no doubt able to name the behind-the-scenes author of the "Nasty Party" speech (Clue: he's writing Cameron's speech for Bournemouth)

And for a bonus point, perhaps Gareth will tell us why a former Monday Clubber with an extremely murky reputation is thought a fit person to pen the platitudes of Caring Conservatism for which Dave is no more than a mouthpiece?

So you admit that having a 'murky' reputation and being in the monday club are not incompatible and that Caring conservatism is implicitly at odds with the agenda of the Monday Club?

Oh dear your not doing yourself any favours are you?

By the way , please drop the anonymity bollocks and post under your real name.

if you transplant blair into the real world of say,tesco or marks and spencer,how far would he have reached up the greasy pole?i suggest the top would have been marketing director.if he had run the companies with hot air,like britain,they would go bust.
he will sail off leaving the wreckage of uk plc in a real mess and make gazzillions of pounds blurting speaches to anybody who will listen.some boy.

I love you so much! Great place to visit!.
I am from Ireland and know bad English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "File "gentext.py", line 197, in "

Regards :-) Nevan.

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