Letter: Doubts of the Tory rank and file

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a life-long Conservative supporter, I noted with interest - but, sadly, no longer surprise - that, despite the events of recent weeks, Norman Fowler repeatedly asserted on the eve of the Tory party conference that not only was nothing substantially wrong within the party, but it was going to 'fight back'.

When ministers and other Conservative politicians utter such statements they seem to overlook that many of their audience are Conservatives who are not only dismayed by the lamentable performance of this government, but are also curious as to whom the Conservatives are 'fighting', if not themselves.

The party, happily for those who are entrusted with our confidence, has usually been able to insist upon the facade of unity for the interests of unity. However, there must ultimately be a greater interest, and that is of the country.

It has become increasingly clear that, despite the arrogance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in refusing to resign or even concede any responsibility wholly or in part for this debacle, both he and the Prime Minister were promoted 'beyond the level of their competence'.

Indeed, when one looks at John Major's performance one is drawn to the comparison with Neville Chamberlain, who was equally nave in his foreign affairs dealings and his anxiety to appease (even though in a different context) while claiming a victory. Perhaps instead of 'peace' Mr Major's scrap of paper should read 'gone to pieces in our time'.

Would anyone within the Conservative Party say that, for the sake of unity, Chamberlain should have been blindly followed? I therefore ask those ministers and MPs left with any sense of responsibility and honour to speak out on behalf of all of us before it is too late, and demand a referendum on this crucial issue as the government's judgement can no longer be relied upon.

Yours faithfully,


Chalfont St Peter,