Labour's sleaze is systemic, says Major

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Labour has been accused by Sir John Major of presiding over a decade of "systemic sleaze".

The former Tory Prime Minister also claimed that Gordon Brown had squandered billions of pounds of taxpayers' money during his spell as Chancellor.

In an unusually scathing foray into domestic politics, Sir John protested that Labour had used "McCarthyite" tactics in opposition to portray the last Conservative government as sleazy. "What they did at the time was absolutely unscrupulous," he told BBC1's Andrew Marr show.

"Lots of people misbehaved in the 1980s and 1990s, but they were all individuals. It was never institutional. It was never related specifically to the Conservative Party or to the Conservative government."

He added: "The distinction is that sleaze has seemed to be systemic since 1997."

Referring to Tony Blair's pledge after his first election victory, Sir John said: "I think if they were to say today 'whiter than white' or 'purer than pure', people would just laugh."