Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the General Election, made in an interview held in London on Tuesday 7th January 1997.
[Mr Major was asked whether the Conservatives had moved away from being bold reformers to being defensive].
The premise of your question is entirely wrong. That is not the basis of our appeal to the country. What we are saying to the country is that as a result of a whole series of difficult decisions that have been taken, after a very hard time both frankly for the government and for industry and commerce, we have now produced a position where the British economy has the most sparkling prospects for a very long time. What we are saying to the country is it has been very difficult to get here, it won’t be easy to keep it, we will have to follow the same policies in future if we wish this prosperity to blossom. And the appeal that we will make to the country is not as your describe it, the appeal that we will make to the country is the economy is right, that means the prospects before us are very bright indeed, don’t throw those prospects away, this is how we propose to develop them in the future. That is the substance of what we will be saying.
[Mr Major was asked where the new thinking was].
I think there is a whole range of new thinking. Let me deal with it. Though I have to say, before I delve into new thinking, new thinking is very fashionable for political commentators, but stability is what most people in the country would like to see, stability so they can get on with their own lives in security and stability and meet their own ambitions.
[Mr Major was asked if that was because they had had their stability hit hard].
No, no, no, people have always wanted stability. People’s living standards have risen; educational prospects have risen, 1 in 3 of our young people going to university whereas there were 1 in 8; there are a million more people being treated on the National Health Service. You mustn’t be so negative James, there is a great deal happening that is extremely good and I intend to see that that continues. As far as new thinking is concerned, there is still a good way to go on the education reforms, we are still continuing to improve the Health Service, both those things are fundamental to people.
We are keen to ensure that the state doesn’t blanket out decisions that the family themselves should make. I am not opposed, as you seem to imply for example, to constitutional changes, I have made constitutional changes in the last five years, quite a lot of them, some in Scotland, some in Ireland, some in Wales, some in Parliament, and we have more planned for the future than we have set out. What I am opposed to is the sort of reckless all-purpose constitutional change without thought that our opponents favour.