The party is over as Major's club closes

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Indy Politics
As John Major confronted his party's general election defeat, he could at least console himself with the strength of Conservative support in his own Huntingdon constituency. Not any more.

He retained the seat by more than 18,000 votes, the largest Tory majority in the country. But so apathetic are party members in his own backyard that his local watering hole, the Huntingdon Conservative Club, is to close due to lack of support.

The club has been a meeting place for grassroots Tories for the past 27 years. Mr Major celebrated his 1992 election victory there, and he often pops in for a pint during weekends in the constituency. But while he may have remained loyal, membership has dropped from 2,000 at its height to less than 500.

"There is a hard core of 50 to 80 regulars, but it's not enough," said Roger Juggins, chairman and founder of the club, yesterday. "We've tried everything to keep it open. We even had a clay pigeon shoot the other night."

The club is located in a converted Victorian house and shared premises until 1989 with the Huntingdon Conservative Association. It has a signed photograph of Mr Major hanging in the hall. But since the association moved out, the club has lurched from one financial crisis to the next.