The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1983-1987 Parliament

John Major’s Comments on his Appointment as a Junior Minister

Below is the text from John Major’s book “The Autobiography” regarding his appointment as a junior Minister in the Department of Health and Social Security, ISBN 0006530745, page 86.


In the late summer of 1985 I was at home at Finings watching the death throes of the England-Australia Test at The Oval on television. I had hoped to be at the march, but the probability of a reshuffle, and whispers that I would be promoted, kept me by the phone. England’s pace bowler Richard Ellison was mopping up the Australians as I awaited events. Norma was out, and James and Elizabeth were at school, so I was alone. And I had a dilemma.

I was horrified that I might be offered the job of Minister of Sport. I loved sport and politics, but they were separate parts of my life, and I had no wish to mix them. This was the first of two occasions in my career when I was to wonder whether or not to accept a promotion. I paced the room, and decided that I wanted a job in the mainstream of politics, or no job at all. If the Prime Minister offered me Sport I should say no, and ask to stay in the Whips’ Office. I marshalled my arguments, knowing that she would not welcome such a response.

The telephone rang. It was Number 10. The Prime Minister wished to speak to me later – would I be around? ‘Yes’ I said. And waited. And paced. England won the Test match. I continued to wait.

Finally the phone rang again. It was the Prime Minister. ‘I’d like you to leave the Whips’ Office and go to Social Security,’ she said. ‘It’s where I started. It’s a good place to be. Norman Fowler will be your Secretary of State – get in touch with him straight away. Good luck.’ And that was it. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was a minister, and with a mainstream brief.