Major 'wavered' over Thatcher
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Sunday 29 August 1993
Mr Baker, the former ally of Edward Heath who became one of the two last-ditch supporters of Mrs Thatcher's continued premiership, claims that Mr Major was 'literally silent' during the Thatcher campaign. The allegations are published in today's Sunday Times, which is serialising Mr Baker's memoirs.
And he says that Mr Major even hesitated when asked by Mrs Thatcher herself to sign her nomination papers to go forward for the second of the two ballots, in November 1990.
Mr Baker says that he urged Mrs Thatcher against travelling to Paris for a summit meeting during the first ballot. Many of Mrs Thatcher's most fervent supporters said that the decision to go ahead with the Paris trip cost her the premiership.
When three of her closest supporters telephoned Mr Major - who was recovering from a dental operation - to ask him to appear on television in her support, he said: 'I'll have to think about it.' By the time he returned to London the following day she had resigned.
Mr Baker also says that when earlier she personally asked Mr Major to sign the second ballot forms there was a 'long pause' before he replied: 'If that's what you want me to do, I'll do it.'
Although the implication is that Mr Major did not strive to keep Mrs Thatcher politically alive, he can point out with justice that many of his colleagues - across the party spectrum - told her bluntly that they did not think she could win against the challenge by Michael Heseltine.
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