John Major

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British Prime Minister 1990 - 1997

Succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Conservative party leader, thus becoming Prime Minister in 1990.

Held office during the the Gulf War. Started the "Back to Basics" campaign that disasterously back-fired by providing an excuse for the British media to expose "sleaze" within the Conservative Party and most damagingly within the Cabinet itself.

Expected to lose the 1992 election to Neil Kinnock, Major took his campaign on to the streets, famously delivering many addresses from an upturned box. This populist touch, in contrast to the Labour Party's more slick campaign, chimed with the electorate and Major won an unexpected second term in office, albeit with a very small majority. This proved to be unmanageable, and despite his best efforts the ministry collapsed into political in-fighting. The moderate Major was undermined by his right-wing enemies within the party and the Cabinet (whom he referred to as "bastards" in a candid and uncharacteristic moment). One of the key issues was, and remained, Britain's membership of and policy towards the European Union.

It was no surprise then when Major lost the 1997 General Election to Tony Blair, in one of the largest defeats on record, leading to his resignation as leader. Since then Major has, in marked contrast to his predecessor, tended to stay out of front line politics, contributing only from the back benches and indulging his love of cricket as president of Surrey County Cricket Club.

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