The Government in Crisis: Discontent grows in sceptical Luton: Mike Durham met some Tory grassroots critics of an 'indecisive' government
Wednesday 28 October 1992
A significant number of local Conservatives share Mr Flint's views. Although not all agree that he should look for a transfer there is widespread discontent at the Government's handling of affairs.
Luton is a microcosm of Conservative opinion. There are two parliamentary seats. Luton South is held by Graham Bright, John Major's Parliamentary Private Secretary and a close friend, with a slender majority of 799.
Luton North, the more affluent area, is the constituency of John Carlisle, a right-winger, Euro-sceptic and one of the Conservative rebels who threatened to vote against the Government over pit closures.
Mr Flint, 64, a Luton South constituency association executive member, said: 'My particular criticism of John Major is that he is too arrogant and is not listening to his backbenchers. And the backbenchers are not listening to grassroots opinion like us. There is too much power with the politicians at Westminster. Events of recent weeks have been most refreshing. In my view what the Conservative Party needs is a good dose of democracy.'
In the constituency office, Eric Manley is more loyal but still betrays a widely-held unease. 'There is a strong feeling of disappointment that things should have got so out of kilter so soon after the election,' Mr Manley, 74, a constituency vice-president, said. 'The trouble is that the politicians will not listen to the people who put them there. Some are pointing the finger at Mr Major, although I personally think that we should stick with him through thick and thin unless events show that we are mistaken. He has had a rougher ride recently than he deserves. He may have taken his eye off the ball for a while. But the last thing we need at the moment is an election, or a new leader.'
If the constituency is split over tactics, nothing illustrates the depth of local feeling more vividly than a recent debate over Maastricht. Local Conservatives last month discovered they were split 15-14 over the treaty.
Michael Hall, chairman of Luton North Conservatives, said: 'I don't think John Major is making mistakes. But there is a definite sense of apparent indecisiveness. And people were genuinely dismayed at the treatment the miners were getting. There is a general regret that things have not gone as well as we would have liked. But nobody has come to me yet and said, 'That man has got to go'.'
Perhaps Mr Hall should visit Luton Conservative Club more often. 'Most people here are absolutely incensed at the Government's incompetence,' said Frank Healy, 64, who runs an office equipment leasing company.
'There is no strong leadership as we were accustomed to under Margaret Thatcher. With this fellow, you just don't know where you are. He's a ditherer. Mr Major lacks charisma. I don't get a feeling that the Government knows what it is doing or where it is going.' Peter Colley, managing director of a materials handling firm, said: 'They ought to get Saatchi and Saatchi back. We need better presentation of government policy.'
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Russian hack of President Obama's emails worse than previously admitted
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow to replace sun as arctic air mass moves in
Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should convert and not rebuild their 'pagan shrines'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...