'John Major? Who's he?' asks Thatcher

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The Independent Online
THE Prime Minister may not be the most charismatic occupant of Downing Street in modern times, but at least you might think that Lady Thatcher could remember his name, writes Paul Routledge.

During a question and answer session in Aspen, Colorado, late on Friday night, Lady Thatcher was asked about her recent criticism of John Major.

According to agency reports, she whispered: "Who is Major?" Then she took the microphone to proclaim: "John Major is my prime minister. He is a Conservative. And that's infinitely better than any alternative." It was an embarrassing lapse in front of 500 diners who had paid $300 each to listen to her at Aspen's Wheeler Opera House. She excoriated the Clinton Administration for "a lack of decisiveness" in failing to bomb the Bosnian Serbs into submission.

America seems to bring out Lady Thatcher's disenchantment with her chosen successor. Within months of his takeover, she was referring to Mr Major and his Cabinet as "the B-team" on a trip to the US. What a far cry from the morning of 28 November 1990. As she left Downing Street to give her resignation to the Queen, the then Mrs Thatcher said: "I wish John Major all the luck in the world. He has the makings of a great prime minister, which I am sure he will be in a very short time."