Major likens Blair to Uriah Heep

Tony Blair has been likened to the hand-wringing and ever-so-humble Uriah Heep, the Dickensian character, by John Major. Anthony Bevins, Political Editor, watches as the former prime minister returns to the fray.

One of the Prime Minister's key qualities, his ability to show and share his feelings, was condemned out of hand by his predecessor, Mr Major, in an interview with The Spectator yesterday.

Arguing that it would have been ludicrous to have apologised for taking sterling into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, as Chancellor, in 1990, Mr Major said: "The idea of politicians apologising is silly. Where does it end?

"Look at Blair, apologising to the Irish - next, he'll probably apologise to the Italians. Then they wanted the Queen to apologise to all our former colonies. Should we have a weekly apology spot on which Blair apologises to John Humphrys for not having anything to apologise about that week? Is Uriah Heep running the country?

"As for Blair saying he was `hurt' after the Formula One row, he never seemed hurt about questioning the integrity of others. He shouldn't have said it anyway. Politicians should never bare their emotions in public."

The interview coincided with an interview with Mr Blair in yesterday's Sun - "his first Christmas interview as Premier" - in which he said that the death of Princess Diana was the most terrible moment of his months in office. "Instinct sustained me through that difficult period," he said.

Mr Major also accused Labour of being too scared to make good long-term decisions. "This is where they will come unstuck," he said. "Labour lied to the middle classes. They made them all these promises of help and now, every day, they kick them in the pants. Brown's wholly unnecessary Budget was a disgraceful raid on pension funds. A higher rate of council tax and the abolition of Tessas is stupid and incredibly vindictive. They are completely out of touch with reality.

"I have calculated that Labour is costing each middle-class family pounds 700 a month. I suppose they think they are being macho. I suppose that's why they refuse to bow to parliamentary opinion ..."

As for his own party, Mr Major agreed that there were sections of it that seemed to believe that its problems were mainly presentational. "They should be setting out clear policies," he said, "on benefit reform particularly. Labour, for instance, pretends to be pro-women but actually their policies are sexist. The Government wants to pay family credit through the wage packet, which means it will too often go entirely to men.

"These things are more important than presentation. The voters will become sick of slickness. It would be a terrible thing for the Tories to go in for slick trickery."

He said that his long-term ambition was to see the party back in office as soon as possible, and, asked whether that meant that he would not behave as Baroness Thatcher or Sir Edward Heath had done, Mr Major said: "I'm not commenting on Mrs Thatcher."

Asked whether he believed people should publicly criticise their successors, he replied: "No. I don't want to be seen as a twisted, bitter person who could never get used to losing office."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office and Customer Services Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small but very busy (and f...

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot