John Major's rage and frustration with rightwing Tories boiled over this weekend when, in an outburst, he called three of his own cabinet members "bastards". John Major's rage and frustration with rightwing Tories boiled over this weekend when, in an outburst, he called three of his own cabinet members "bastards". Since the death of Margaret Thatcher in 2013 he has been both the oldest and earliest-serving of all living former prime Mark Stuart, writing in 2017, stated that Major is "the best ex-Prime Minister we have ever had", praising him for initiating the Northern Ireland peace process, peacefully handing Hong Kong back to China, creating the National Lottery and leaving a sound economy to Labour in 1997. GRO Register of Births: JUN 1905 7a 741 Gainsborough – Gwendoline Minnie Coates, mmn = unknown. [624] Labour meanwhile ran a much slicker professional campaign, with a highly organised media team under Alastair Campbell ensuring that all its candidates were consistently on message. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. The youngest British prime minister of the 20th century, John Major (born 1943) succeeded Margaret Thatcher as leader of the Conservative Party and political head of the United Kingdom in 1990, a post he held until 1997.. John Major had a highly unusual background for a Conservative Party leader. Major never quite managed to establish a similar rapport with Bill Clinton (President from 1993 to 2001). [314] These trends were strengthened by the growth in globalisation and Britain's continued shift from an industrial, manufacturing-based economy to a more service-based one. [26][27][nb 5], Major's interest in politics stems from this period, and he avidly kept up with current affairs by reading newspapers on his long commutes from Brixton to Wimbledon. [105][106] It was later revealed (in 2002) that during this period Major had conducted an affair with Edwina Currie, a Conservative backbencher and later Junior Health Minister; the affair ended in 1988. [311], The power of trade unions continued to decline during the 1990s, with union membership continuing to fall concurrent with their influence on the political process. Though aware that Britain was no longer the dominant global player it once was, Major sought to continue the pursuit of a proactive foreign policy so that Britain could continue to 'punch above its weight' on the international stage. [75], Despite his setback at the 1971 Lambeth Council election, Major continued to nurse political ambitions, and with help from friends in the Conservative Party managed to get onto the Conservative Central Office's list of potential MP candidates. [649], Upon becoming Prime Minister Major was immediately faced with having to deal a major war in the Middle East. [846] Paddy Ashdown, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats during Major's term of office, was more sympathetic, writing in 2017 that Major was "one of the most honest, brave and sincere men to ever be Prime Minister" and that his time in office compares favourably with that of his successor Tony Blair.