Those Major speeches again . . .

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The Independent Online
'A CONCERTED push to rebuild his political authority.' That was how the Financial Times billed John Major's speech on Friday, in which he attempted to relaunch 'back to basics' and regain a grip on his Government, writes Jojo Moyes.

It had a familiar ring to it. Could this possibly be the John Major who had 'cemented his leadership' in a speech in October last year; 'ended the drift and disunity' in September; 'rallied the party and persuaded activists that the Government was in charge' in October 1992 and 'reasserted his authority' in both June 1991 and November 1990?

Being Prime Minister, it appears, means preparing to gird one's loins on average every six months in order to give the impression that the barmies and the bastards have been battered back into line.

Few leaderships, it seems, have ever been cemented as frequently; few authorities as regularly stamped.

Those speeches:

The Financial Times - 26 October 1993: 'In his strongest comments yet on the continuing friction with the former prime minister, Mr Major virtually accused the media of creating divisions where none existed.'

The Independent - 9 October 1993: 'John Major cemented his leadership and ended the threat of any challenge for the time being, grassroots Tory supporters said after the Prime Minister's speech.'

The Financial Times - 10 September 1993: 'The decision yesterday marks the beginning of a determined effort by John Major to end the drift and disunity of the past year.' The Guardian - 10 October 1992: 'Cabinet colleagues loyally insisted that Mr Major had successfully persuaded activists and the TV audience that the Government was in charge.'

The Independent - 15 June 1991: 'John Major yesterday sought to reassert his authority over a jittery Conservative Party with a speech which attacked right-wing European sceptics.'

The Daily Telegraph - 8 June 1991: 'Mr Major sought to reassert his authority in the country and the Conservative Party last night with a speech attacking Labour's fitness to govern.'

The Independent - 30 November 1990: 'John Major yesterday asserted his authority by distancing himself from Margaret Thatcher, signalling a change of tone in a speech on Europe . . .'