Letter: Adieu Major, we'll miss you

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The Independent Online
Sir: Although your article "It's goodbye to Mr In-Between" (3 May) acknowledged John Major's "achievements", calling him "Mr In-Between" as he left office was cruel and unfair.

Certainly, John Major is by no means a charismatic figure, nor the kind of leader whose natural authority could instantly hush a rebellious backbencher, nor indeed the kind of man whose speeches could take a nation by its guts. But what is a good political leader?

On this side of the Channel, we have institutions that probably make our country the last real monarchy in Europe. These have given us a fair amount of strong political leaders. To what end? Mitterrand was elected on the generous promise of creating one million jobs in one year: he left power after having doubled the number of unemployed people. Chirac gave remarkable and bold speeches on the need to heal the "social fracture": unemployment is still growing beyond control.

Maybe John Major was not a great leader in that he didn't build an expensive opera house, Le Grand Louvre or La Grande Arche; he was not obsessed by the need to leave a trace in history. Certainly some aspects of his years in Downing Street are deplorable. Yet whether you agree with his policy or not, you cannot deny that he has reformed his country, made the British economy stronger, and brought the unemployment rate to a figure we can only dream of.