Inexperience blamed for Major's year of troubles: Parkinson points to Prime Minister's fast promotion

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JOHN MAJOR'S inexperience was one of the reasons for his annus horribilis, Lord Parkinson said yesterday, as preparations were made for the first anniversary of his election victory.

With Maastricht continuing to divide his party, the Prime Minister was warned that he would not be allowed to rescue the treaty by accepting the Social Chapter.

Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, made it clear on BBC's Breakfast with Frost that he would not accept a compromise by Mr Major to rescue the treaty over Labour's clause 75 on the Social Chapter.

'We all remember that the Prime Minister refused to sign the version of the treaty which had the Social Chapter in. He won that battle. We are determined to stick by and secure his success,' Mr Lilley said.

Asked on ITV's Walden programme yesterday whether Mr Major was up to the job, Lord Parkinson, the former Conservative Party chairman said: 'That is unfair . . . He was not the complete politician when he came into office . . . He had been Foreign Secretary for a few weeks and Chancellor for just over a year.'

Referring to Mr Major's 'spectacularly fast promotion', he added: 'It is very swingeing to say John Major is not up to the job. The party decided he was the best man of those available at the time.'

The Conservative Party is planning to mark this week as a turning point in Mr Major's term. Sir Norman Fowler, the party chairman, will say in an upbeat party political radio broadcast on Thursday: 'We are not out of the woods of the world recession but we are making real progress.'

Mr Major's year was made complete by a biography of his wife, Norma, by the journalist Tim Walker, which described her dislike for the 'cold, friendless world' as wife of the Prime Minister.'