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Weak and Ineffective? Reassessing the Party Political Leadership of John Major

By Timothy Heppell


Interpretations on the party political leadership of John Major are dominated by perceptions of weakness and ineffectiveness. This article examines his party political leadership by considering the relationship between, first, his political ambitions, and, second, his style of political leadership. When evaluating the political ambitions of Major, the article will demonstrate that he was ideologically agnostic and a political pragmatist. When examining his party political leadership style, the article will demonstrate, via an examination of his management of the European policy divide and his Cabinet management, that he was politically indecisive and an avoider of political confrontation. The article concludes, however, that perceptions of his weakness and ineffectiveness should be contextualised due to the following two factors: first, the constraints of inheriting an ideologically divided parliamentary Conservative party; and, second, the contrasting circumstances that ensured that his predecessor and successor appeared strong and effective, which have magnified perceptions of his weakness and ineffectiveness

Topics: JN101, JA
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1467-923x.2007.00867.x
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