The Economy - Black Wednesday
- Britain entered the Exchange Rate Mechanism.
- 2.95 marks to the £ (the German Mark was viewed as the strongest currency in Europe).
- Narrow fluctuations were allowed; it was banded. The currency could fluctuate within that band.
- Pound traded very low. Speculation occurred. Raising interest rates failed.
- Britain left the ERM - Economic competency of the Gov't within the electorate was destroyed.
- Eurosceptics viewed it as White Wednesday.
- However, the British Economy recovered almost immediately after leaving the ERM.
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The Economy - Privatisation
- Coal industry was privatised in 1994.
- Stock market was buoyed up - trading value of the LSE increased.
- Railways were privatised in 1996 - Complicated and controversial; private companies could now run their own trains. Service became complicated.
- The attempt to privatise the Post Office was abandoned due to public opposition and backbench rebellion fearful of an electoral wipe out.
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The Economy - Negative Equity
- Many home-owners, as a result of the "Lawson Boom" entered negative equity.
- This economic woe affected Tory grassroots predominantly in the south instead of the Industrial North.
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The Party - Sleaze!
- Sleaze dogged Major's final years in office - David Mellor & Tim Yeo.
- Many of the scandals were about sex, but others were about corruption.
- Jeffrey Archer was found guilty of perjury.
- Most governments are affected by sleaze towards the end but Major's gov't was affected seriously by the wave of sensationalist press directed at his gov't.
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The Party - Eurosceptics/Thatcher
- Divisions in the party allowed eager politicians to advance their claims.
- Eurosceptics saw an opportunity to push the gov't to the fringes of Europe or out altogether.
- Thatcher encouraged Eurosceptic rebels by demanding a referendum to pass the Maastrict Treaty.
- Thatcher can be viewed as a backseat Prime Minister - shaping policy outside of office.
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The Party - Leadership election gamble of 1995
- "Back me or sack me" - Major was so concerned and insecure over the state of party affairs in the eyes of the press, he called a leadership contest to reaffirm his mandate.
- This was unheard of for a PM to do.
- John Redwood challenged Major.
- Major won 218 votes, Redwood won 89.
- Major had succeeded and quelled the viciousness of the press.
- However, Redwood had won 89 votes in a party with a small majority in the House of Commons - shows considerable lack of support for Major.
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Foreign Policy - Northern Ireland, The Downing Str
- Conservative PM instinctively sided with the Unionists in Northern Ireland.
- John Major had a good relationship with Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
- Diplomacy: Started the peace process with the Downing Street Declaration.
- Sparked a cease fire between IRA and Loyalist Paramilitaries.
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Foreign Policy - Europe, The Maastrict Treaty
- Major won opt-outs:
- Keeping the £ and not taking up the Social Charter.
- Determined to prevent the Maastrict Treaty from becoming too federalist.
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Foreign Policy - End of the Cold War
- Increased optimism in a multi-polarised world > EU becoming more influential.
- Major sought to intervene in Bosnia.
- Hosted a joint EU-UN conference in London.
- A UN peacekeeping force was put in place.
- Yet this mediation was seen as ineffectual, especially after the Srebrenica massacre.
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