Coffee House

Sir John Major glimpses the sunny uplands

16 September 2012

The standard joke is that Sir John Major is the ultimate grey man, as if Charles Pooter had been painted by Wilhelm Hammershoi in particularly pallid light. But the pea-eating caricature of yesteryear was not in evidence on the Andrew Marr Show this morning. There was something calm and old-fashioned about Major during his interview; even his platitudes carried an air of wisdom. The former Disability Minister praised the Olympic and Paralympic Games, revelling in the fact that the games had revived aspects of our national character which he had assumed dead.

The conversation was about old times: his father’s career in Music Halls during the early years of the 20th Century, past battles with the European Union and the legacy of Black Wednesday. He said that the lesson of that calamity was to look for green shoots in the darkest of places. He reminded Andrew Marr that Norman Lamont had been proved right when he saw the beginnings of recovery in the midst of disaster. Major went on to say that he ‘thinks’ we are on the road to a slow recovery; that austerity is working. He rehearsed arguments which the economic commentator Hamish McCrea and others have made: the figures do not add to a contraction. Major pointed to rising employment, rising industrial productivity, modest growth in the stock market as a sign that the economy is growing and that the confidence fairy has returned to these shores. He could have mentioned falling inflation and the promise of a rise in disposable income next year, as reported by the Sunday Times (£).

He was undoubtedly cautious, but equally optimistic; hopeful that we are through the worse. Irritatingly, Andrew Marr did not ask what the government should do if Major proves to be correct: should it continue retrenching or loosen the spending tap once more as the electoral cycle turns towards the 2015 election?

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  • Asmodeus

    I have always thought of him as an Edwardian with his fathers music hall background.I am sure that Edward vii would have approved of his fling with Edwina.When he was Prime Minister I felt as though Kipps or Mr Polly had risen to the office.His era was a pleasant interlude between the stridency of Thatcher and the phoniness of Blair.Most people remember the mid 90s with affection.Good on you John.

  • Frank P

    Screw the politics! He’s yesterday’s spuds. I’ve always regarded him as the man with the phantom mustache; an effect probably caused by excessive use of the top-lip muscles brought about by muff-diving the egg woman. I’m told she has a clitoris like a beaver’s tail and labia like a horses’s collar, certainly not a victim of FGM.

  • JohnMcEvoy

    ‘Sir’ John ‘Shagger’ Major kept up the family Circus tradition by becoming the first proper clown to live in Number 10. Oh yes.

    • Nicholas

      But not the last, eh?

  • duyfken

    I suspect Major is on manoeuvres to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • Frank Sutton

    Why bring poor old Chas Pooter into it? The Grossmiths’ creation is a buffoon, an innocent and a fool, to be sure, but grey – never!

  • TomTom

    When is The Speccie going to comment on Cyril Ramaphosa operating as gangmaster and stealing from South African miners at Lonmin and the use of the Army to suppress strikes ? Why is it left to Mail and Guardian to explain how Ramaphosa and Xstrata are making a fortune by cheating black miners ? The British press is disgustingly silent on this exploitation and murder in South Africa by a favoured son of the ANC and Commonwealth

  • David Ossitt

    He came across as the true gentleman that he undoubtedly is,
    compare him with his patient good humour with the flimflam-man Blair and the arrogant
    mad bad sad Brown.

    • telemachus

      I do not remember any actual economic catastrophies when Blair had his 10 glorious years.
      The danger of Major is that he appears as a gentleman and as such will be wheeled out as an apologist for the ravages of Osbourn

      • anyfool

        If you remove borrowing during the Blair Brown years we actually had no growth for a large part of the time.
        Osborne has not cut anything yet so tell everyone what specific ravages that can actually be laid at his door.
        Most public sector cuts are down to the inept financial management of the highly paid Finance Officers of the Local Authorities.
        Check the wage bills of most councils they have gone up not down.

      • Nicholas

        That’s because like most Labour numpties you remember only what you want to. John Major, for all his faults, will be remembered as the last Prime Minister of Great Britain. The country changed forever in 1997. There will be those who boast that was for the better. But for many of us, within the diversity you and your ghastly comrades ceaselessly crow about, it was very much for the worst. And we look back at the era of John Major, of Margaret Thatcher before him and of Ronald Reagan fondly. You can troll, and sneer, and boast your boasts, you can hate us, you can abuse us, you can wish us gone, you can dance on our graves when we are gone, but you will never change our minds.

        • foxoles

          Yes, but Major was the numpty whose sleaze, ramming through of Maastricht, demonising of patriotic tories (whom he called ‘ bastards’ – charming) and economic incompetence let Blair in -indeed, ensured Labour’s victory.

          • Michael990

            Indeed. Having decided that as far as he was concerned, I was a ‘bastard’, that was the first time I did not vote Conservative.

            • HooksLaw

              So its your fault we were lumbered with 13 years of labour who then took us into the Lisbon treaty?

              That is such dumb thick logic that I would keep quiet about your voting patterns if I were you.

              • Michael990

                There comes a time when you must put principle before party. You clearly had none if you continued to vote for what was already becoming a left wing rather than centre right party. Whilst mentioning Lisbon, you for some reason omit to mention Maastricht.

            • Nicholas

              What an admission. Glad I don’t have Bliar and everything that followed on my conscience. Still, you are not alone. Plenty of bogus conservatives around these days aiding and abetting the enemy.

              • Michael990

                And Major is one of them.

          • Dimoto

            Yes,I had to belly-laugh when Mr Maastricht earnestly urged Cameron to negotiate a more arms-length “settlement” with Europe.
            Major had his Hurd, Cameron has his Clegg.

            • telemachus

              Was Hurd not one of the good things about the Major Gray years?

          • Nicholas

            I respectfully request that you re-read my comment.

      • HFC

        Personally, economic catastrophe struck my private pension as soon as that bastard Brown changed the effing rules. But of course public sector employees were unaffected by those changes.

      • ButcombeMan

        Your memory is faulty.

        The economic catastrophe was when Gordon Brown abandoned well organised Conservative spending plans so that Labour might secure re-election, it was corrupt and it was down hill ever after.

        Blair let him do it because he could not manage the madness of GB and his later acolyte, Balls.

        Osborne has had to pick up the debris. Conservative governments do tend to pick up the debris from consistent Labour economic incompetence.

      • Ostrich (occasionally)

        And neither do you appear to remember who laid the foundations of those yclept ‘glorious years’.

      • Ostrich (occasionally)

        And neither do you appear to remember who laid the foundations of those yclept ‘glorious years’.

      • HooksLaw

        You don’t remember? Then I suggest you see a doctor.
        Brown spent 10 years ruining the economy under Blair. Putting it simply spending billions which were not recovered in tax whilst we allegedly had growth. And thats not even without mentioning the complete ruin of our pensions industry.
        What a dickhead you are.

      • 2trueblue

        Child poverty grew whilst Blair presided as PM and as stated below he and Brown ruined our pensions. Flash, glib and revolting, Blair is the name.

    • Austin Barry

      Well, a gent he may be compared to those two charlatans you mention, but he was also guilty of a gross lapse in sexual taste and decision-making by breaching the Sixth Commandment and Edwina’s rather grisly physical and moral Maginot Line.

      • UlyssesReturns

        He may have screwed the ghastly Edwina but he did not fuck the economy as badly as Blair and Brown.

        • Austin Barry

          Sir John was probably distracted by the former from achieving the latter. Perhaps Edwina could similarly offer her obscure and fugitive charms to Cameron and Osborne as a rather more recondite and much less dangerous form of quantative easing.

        • Austin Barry

          Sir John was probably distracted by the former from achieving the latter. Perhaps Edwina could similarly offer her obscure and fugitive charms to Cameron and Osborne as a rather more recondite and much less dangerous form of quantative easing.

        • JohnMcEvoy

          Oh yes he did.

          • BullDancer

            Oh no he didn’t.

          • telemacharse

            Another pinhead troll sent here by the labour goon squad. Get your jackboots of our lawn numbnuts.

      • Daniel Maris

        He might not have curried favour, but he favoured Currie – and that’s unforgiveable. The Edwina Monologues are a frightful thought…

    • Alan Eastwood

      A true gentleman who was a superb negotiator, if a weak PM.
      Mr Forsyth. Please would you ascertain if you could limit contributors to just one comment? I am heartily sick of telemachus.

      • 2trueblue

        Major actually laid the groundwork in Northern Ireland negotiations which Blair took credit for, so yes he was a great negotiator.

  • Publius

    Did he mention money-printing, currency debasement, price-fixed interest rates? Or was it just the usual I-took-the-happy-pill-and-now-I-feel-happy bilge?

    Isn’t Major regarded nowadays as a Cameron shill?

    • Fergus Pickering


    • ArchiePonsonby

      One would certainly think so, Publius, judging by the acres (hectares?) of newsprint being churned out with his by-line these past few days!

  • itdoesntaddup

    Surely Andrew Marr is now a busted lush who has given a new meaning to the word “backhander”?

    • telemachus

      Andrew Marr’s crime was not to remind the viewer of just what this man actually was:

      Not quite the benign uncle?

      The Major government was summed up by his “back to basics” moral agenda, which was followed by numerous ministers resigning over sex and bribery scandals.

      Major pushed through legislation approving the Maastricht Treaty—outlining moves towards a single European currency.

      Major then presided over the forced exit of the pound from the Exchange Rate
      Mechanism in September 1992.


      Major pushed the market into institutions that Thatcher had failed to
      privatise—schools, universities and the NHS.

      And do not forget the effect of Edwina on Norma

      • Publius

        I don’t think you’re qualfied to comment on morality you sick troll.

      • David B

        Don’t forget he set up the economic age the Gordon Brown distroyed

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