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Friday, July 3, 1998 Published at 05:49 GMT 06:49 UK

UK Politics

Major attacks Blair over 'dumbing down'

Major: rigorous debate should be in the Commons

The former Prime Minister John Major has launched a scathing attack on Tony Blair's conduct in office, accusing him of dumbing down the standards of political debate.

The BBC's John Kampfner reports: Mr Major's personal remarks caused waves
Mr Major derided what he said was his successor's preference for appearing on television chat shows, rather than engaging in serious discussion in Parliament.

He told Asian business leaders at the Cafe Royal in London: "It's all very well to appear on the Des O'Connor Show or the Richard and Judy sofa and it has its place, I don't knock it.

The BBC's Political Correspondent Nicholas Jones: "Tories irked by Labour's use of media"
"But for senior ministers it ought not to replace rigorous debate in the House of Commons or the media.

"And it's not, I hope, disrespectful to Mr O'Connor or to Richard and Judy to say that they should not be the main shop window of presenting the policies of an elected government to the nation that elected them.

Spice Girls

"Call me old fashioned if you will, but I would like to know a little more about how the government will deal with the oncoming recession in manufacturing industry - a recession made in Downing Street that may well be worsened by events in the Far East.

"I'd like to know how they are going to deal with that and rather less about their views on football, the Spice Girls, Cool Britannia, the freedom of Deirdre Rachid from Coronation Street or the people's this or the people's that or whatever the soundbite of the day might be.

"I somehow can't imagine Mr Gladstone, Mr Disraeli, Mr Attlee or Mr Churchill dumbing down politics in the way the present government are doing."

Later, Downing Street issued a statement rejecting Mr Major's remarks.

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