One year on, John Major remains the grey man: The Independent asked a cross section of people to answer the question 'What do you think of the Prime Minister's first year in office since the general election?' This was the response

MAX McGregor, retired, ex-Conservative Party activist for Saffron Walden constituency. Voted Conservative 1992: 'The trouble with John Major is I don't think he's a leader. He's a grey man. He's a banker. He tries to rule by consensus and the country has to have strong leadership.

'I'm not satisfied with his leadership. What this country needs is a benevolent dictator - we got that with Maggie. Major's a good accountant - that's all.'

Brian Sanders, 56, self-employed illustrator, Essex. Voted Labour 1992: 'Deplorable. There have been no policies and he seems to have backtracked on many issues. He's been no help to the self-employed.

'If I hadn't been working abroad I would have gone to the wall. I have been kept going by exporting, not by Major's economy.'

Pamela Sansum, 50, sales assistant, Huntingdon. Didn't vote 1992: 'John Major's lovely. He's a proper gent and some one to look up to. He's got time for everybody.

'We just got back from Australia at Christmas. I said I wasn't coming back unless he got in. If you want a job, there is one. We got jobs as soon as we got back.'

Ellie Dashwood, 24, journalist for Living Marxism, Leeds. Voted for the Revolutionary Communist Party 1992: 'Major sums up quite aptly the problems the Tory Party have at the moment, which is that he's a dull man in a grey suit with no ideas and no inspiration and he likes mushy peas.'

Steve Aldridge, 29, estate agent, Highgate. Voted Conservative 1992: 'Pretty nondescript. I don't think he understands financial matters even though he was Chancellor.'

Derek Hatton, formerly deputy leader of Liverpool City Council. Declined to say how he voted. 'If I'd have been an ardent Tory supporter I'd have been heartbroken at Thatcher leaving and Major taking over.

'I think he's simply a figurehead. Many decisions are taken by the civil service anyway and I don't think he's strong enough to counter them.'

Gerry Scanlon, 26, stockbroker, County NatWest. Didn't vote 1992: 'Very disappointing because he's done nothing to regenerate the economy. I think that he and Lamont are very laissez-faire - I'd like to see them being more pro-active.'

Andy Gogarty, 31, lorry driver, Hackney, east London. Voted Labour 1992: 'Pretty ineffectual so far. His government is just Thatcherism with a different name. It's Thatcherism without any ideas.'

Alfie Edwards, bookmaker, Soho. Voted Conservative 1992: 'I'm right of right-wing really. John Major? I think he's got a very difficult job, and he's a man with no personality. When he makes mistakes he can't rely on his personality to carry him through, like some of the others can. He's honest but very bland.'

Jim Cowling, 21, British Rail train driver. Voted Labour 1992: 'Nothing particularly sticks out that he's done. There's been no real change for me since he won the election, but everybody on the railways is worried about privatisation.'

Patrick James, 47, professional John Major lookalike, Hertfordshire: Voted Conservative 1992. 'Disappointing. One of his biggest mistakes was keeping us in the ERM so long. The other mistake was the miners. Some of his decisions were flawed. Having said that, most people still like him and trust him.

'I travel round the country a lot and there seems to be a tremendous frustration . . . At the beginning of the year I was doing extremely well but the demand for appearances has really dropped off.'

Joseph Edwards, 67, retired bus driver, Belfast. Didn't vote 1992: 'Useless. It's not his fault, the country is bankrupt.

'In Ireland, we're a legacy which if they could get rid of, they would. Major came over here shaking people's hands, but it's a joke. If you want to see the real situation here, the stark poverty, you don't walk down the centre of town, do you?'

Dave Lazonby, 27, busker, Leeds. Didn't vote 1992: 'I find John Major more frightening than Mrs Thatcher because he hasn't got any policies or philosophies.'

Laurette Carter, 74, retired shopkeeper, Huntingdon. Voted Conservative 1992: 'John Major's too nice to be a politician. I think he needs a boost, someone to say to the world that his policies are right. He is not responsible for the recession.'

Brian Booth, 46, newspaper vendor, Leeds. Voted Labour 1992: 'I thought John Major was doing quite well until this last part of the recession. I think it killed everybody. But he's quite a good prime minister - he's doing the best he can under the circumstances.'

Carol, 35, traveller, Bath. Didn't vote 1992: 'Terrible. But to be honest my idea of a politician has got nothing to do with personality. It's all getting a bit American. Personality matters more than policy now.'

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Rev David Jenkins. Cannot vote: 'It's disappointing but not surprising. I was inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But he doesn't seem to have a wide-ranging imagination about the problems we have got.

'You will not improve things by just setting targets. You have to support people and encourage them. I fear we are going to have rather colourless politics, more of the same, rather than the change in politics and economics that the 21st century requires.'

Julie McCahill, 22, part-time sales assistant, joke shop, Cardiff. Voted Labour 1992: 'He's a liar and dull and boring. He should brighten up his image.'

John Collins, GP, east London. Voted Liberal 1992: 'Disappointing, in a word. You can't please all the people all the time - but it has been disappointing, especially after 13 years of Thatcher.

'Parliament doesn't seem to run the country any more, it seems to be run on the back of an envelope by the Prime Minister and advisers based on what public opinion is.'

Max Clifford, 50, public relations consultant. Voted Labour 1992: 'I think it's early days yet, but so far so bad. He's probably having to put up with a lot of opposition from Thatcherites in the Conservative Party, which hasn't helped.

'He doesn't come across to me as a visionary, not that there's many around, unfortunately. In all honesty I would have been interested to see what Tebbit did.'

Dr John Mattausch, lecturer in sociology, London University. Voted Labour 1992: 'Appalling. As a leader, I think his only virtue is that he's not vicious.'

Audrey Jones, 65, retired doctor's secretary, Cardiff. Voted Conservative 1992: 'There is something about the man that I trust. When he speaks I feel he is being sincere. He is not trying to con people.'

Ian Hodge, 26, traffic warden, Huntingdon. Voted Conservative 1992: 'John Major is a bit indecisive, staying on the fence and not making strong decisions, like the coal situation. I think they should have helped the miners out. But he does come across that he will talk to anybody.'

Sara Twine, 38, support teacher, Abingdon. Voted Labour 1992: 'It's a farce that John Major became leader. He was not voted for by the people in the first place. It's amazing that he got back in. It's a complete con.'

David Osborn, medical student, London University. Voted Labour 1992: 'John Major is just a vacuum. When you think of him your mind just goes blank. It's almost insidious evil, because you let it just go by, and the policies he is putting through are not that dissimilar from Thatcher.'

Mike Timbers, 30, computer consultant, south London. Voted Conservative 1992: 'How can you have a view about a man like that? I didn't vote for the man, I voted for the party. I'd rather have voted for his wife. She's got nice dress sense, better than his, anyway.'

Debbie Jensen, 26, Bath. Voted Liberal Democrat 1992: 'John Major has not got it in him. I still think of Thatcher as the Tory Party leader.'

Phil Turner, 40, miner, Kiveton Park colliery, south Yorkshire. Voted Labour 1992: 'All Major has done is just carry on with Thatcher's policies with a friendly face put on them to con people to vote Tory again. He has done nothing for this country apart from for the rich.'

Ivan Massow, 25, financial adviser. Didn't vote 1992: 'There must have been a conspiracy that got John Major in in the first place. I don't think that kind of thing is possible for someone with no O-levels.

'If anything he has been fleeing problems. It's like chess and he is on the retreat all the time and somehow surviving and surviving well.'

Andrew Robins, 21, assistant restaurant manager, north London. Didn't vote 1992: 'What I think of John Major you would not be able to print. No one despised Thatcher more than me and she was a better Prime Minister than him. He's a wimp. Any government who can put 30,000 miners out of work in one statement does not deserve to be in office.'

Eddie Izzard, 31, comedian. Declined to say how he voted: 'Major seems a bit inconsequential. Spitting Image have got it right with that colourless puppet. Major seems to have a heart, which Margaret Thatcher didn't have. After Thatcher anything seems quite pleasant.'

Allan Jones, 44, carpet shop owner, Huntingdon. Voted Conservative 1992: 'The Government has not performed as well as the average Conservative voter would have expected. For example we wasted all that money and time supporting the currency at an artificial level.'

Andrew Duff, stood for the Liberal Democrats against John Major in Huntingdon in the 1992 election: 'I always thought that John Major was a Tory Party manager. I am still waiting to see the conviction which many people imagined him to have. Where's the grit?'

Jonathan Ross, TV presenter. Declined to say how he voted: 'I don't think he was too bad, he was left with the legacy of Thatcher's years. Just surviving has been his main achievement.

'John Major as a person? well, he's reasonably without character. Not good material for a chat show.'

Nigel Spackman, 48, member of Maxwell Pensioners Action Group, ex-employee of Maxwell company. Voted Labour 1992: 'John Major has been ineffective and his policies unsure. They keep changing their mind. As far as Maxwell pensions are concerned they have ignored the problem. I feel extremely angry.'

John Baird, 38, clinical psychologist, east London. Didn't vote 1992: 'Both parties are capitalist and there's no representation of left-wing views. How do poor people survive? They don't do they, they are an underclass.'

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. Voted Conservative 1992: 'He has allowed himself to be blown off course, in my view, not just on the economic front where he foolishly stuck to the ERM, but also allowed the Maastricht rebels to run rings around him.'

Dr Conor Gearty, director of Civil Liberties Research Unit, King's College, London. Voted Labour 1992: 'He's achieved very little apart from his extraordinary third-rate little charter. It's like something created by someone at O-level. It's a dead giveaway. It shows the bareness and aridity of his reasoning powers.'

Gerry Cottle, circus owner. Voted Conservative 1992: 'I went to the same school as John Major. His dad was a trapeze artist and Major went the wrong side of the tracks. My dad was a stockbroker and I ran away to join the circus, we seemed to have swapped sides.

'I am not at all happy with my vote. We are going nowhere, they seem to run off at angles, banning bulldogs and New Age travellers.'

Ali Askar, 26, cab driver, Peterborough. Voted Labour 1992: 'I think he's crap. I thought Thatcher was bad but he's worse. Look at all the industry we have lost. Our business has flopped.'

Christopher Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods, Yorkshire. Declined to say how he voted: 'A very nice man, a very good chair of a group of people but he does not have a great intellectual drive.'

The Rev Terence Byron, 67, school governor and retired vicar, Leicester. Declined to say how he voted: 'John Major is as good as any leader. He appears very quiet and that is not a bad thing if he's trying to operate cabinet-led government.'

Peter Birch, chief executive of Abbey National Group plc. Declined to say how he voted: 'In general terms he is not a prime minister that's a natural leader and one that one naturally respects. I would like to see someone else in his place. Someone who you can look up to and respect.'

Ian Brown, 47, chief executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce. Voted Liberal Democrat 1992: 'It's been a bit of a grey year. There's a difference between his perceived ability and his actual ability. It's a bit inevitable that after 10 years of a very dominant prime minister you get an antidote. He'll go down in history as that antidote.'

(Photograph omitted)

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