Magazine article The Spectator

For Major

Magazine article The Spectator

For Major

Article excerpt

By the time many of our readers read this, they will have voted. Still, at the time of writing, Britain has not yet elected the Labour government assured it by the opinion polls,

So there is time. Our readers will have gathered from what we have written over the past year or so, that we recommend them to vote Conservative. Alone among Conservative-supporting publications in this parliament, we make the recommendation enthusiastically. The apparent hopelessness of Mr Major's cause is an irrelevance. A cause is no less right because it looks like being lost.

Mr Major has proved the best prime minister since the war, after Margaret Thatcher. There is a good case to be made for the underrated Churchill peacetime government, but that would need some arguing, and we are at the moment in an election rather than a seminar.

One proof of Mr Major's success is all around us. It is the economy. Perhaps 'stakeholding' will make us even better off. Perhaps Labour's Baroness Blackstone is right in one of her Times columns and that she knows how to 'structure' or `restructure' our economic arrangements, or whatever it was, in a way so far denied our business people, politicians and civil servants. But we doubt it. A better way to judge the present is to compare it with the past, especially the immediate past. The economy has not done so well for years.

We can debate whether Mr Major intended it thus. He took Britain into the ERM. That made the recession deeper and longer than it might otherwise have been. But, in economics, cause and effect are sometimes subtle. ERM membership was a bad cause which has issued in a beneficial effect: very low inflation, that is by postwar standards - the only standards we now know. Inflation will go up and down, but not by much. This is a godsend to almost everyone in employment other than the property business. We would not claim that Mr Major's recession was the recession to end recessions, but it looks like being the recession to end endemic inflation, and it should make another recession unnecessary for a long time.

Mr Major has also arrived, equally by trial and error, at a position on further European union, and the single currency, which most resembles the wishes of the British people. Neither he nor Britain wants to go much further in, nor much further out. If it be doubted that this is the right policy, we need only to look at Mr Blair: throughout the campaign, he has taken care not to deviate from it. He knows a good and safe position when he sees it. …

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