BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Currie blasts Major's record in power
Edwina Currie with diary
Currie was warmly welcomed at a writing lecture
Edwina Currie has launched a scathing attack on John Major, describing her former lover as "one of the less competent prime ministers".

She claimed he sidelined female and black politicians during his seven years in Downing Street and re-enforced an image of the Conservative Party as white, male and heterosexual.

John Major
Major remains tight-lipped
Rounding off a day of attacks on Mr Major, Mrs Currie told ITV1's Tonight programme he was not good enough for the top job in British politics.

But Mr Major refused to break his silence despite huge media scrutiny while appearing at a charity dinner in Texas.

A press conference arranged for the event in Dallas on Wednesday was later cancelled and the media excluded from observing the dinner.

The former prime minister's spokesman said: "Mr Major issued a statement last week and does not propose to add to it."

He behaved in an atrocious fashion and it's a shame

Edwina Currie
The affair was revealed on Saturday in an interview with Mrs Currie to mark the serialisation of her diaries in the Times newspaper.

Their four-year liaison began in 1984 when Mr Major was a government whip, and ended two years before he became prime minister.

In her first television interview, she told interviewer Trevor McDonald that Mr Major broke a promise to give her a place in the cabinet.

'Progress changed him'

She said he was "not, in the end, up to the job that he aspired to, that we helped him to get and that he held for six years: that of prime minister".

She praised Mr Major as a "capable, intelligent, decent, thoughtful person", but one who changed as he moved up the political ladder.

Lord Taylor of Warwick
Lord Taylor of Warwick was 'held back'

Mrs Currie said female and black Tory politicians, such as Lord Taylor of Warwick, were held back in Major's government.

And there was an "active refusal" to recognise gay members of parliament, she claimed.

She said he formed the first government for 25 years with no women and perpetuated a Conservative image of "heterosexual, white males".

"He thumped the table and said: 'I'm against all kinds of discrimination' and then he practised it," said Mrs Currie.

"And I got cross, and somewhere along the line I thought to myself: the man I knew, not that long ago, has disappeared and I'm not entirely sure I like what has taken his place."

She told the programme the possibility of revealing the affair while Mr Major was still prime minister had "crossed my mind" - but the realisation it would have brought his government down stopped her.

And she also admitted she was "probably" trying to drop hints in her racy novels like A Parliamentary Affair, which tells the story of a four-year affair between a married female MP and a married government whip.

Editor realised

Earlier on Wednesday, Mrs Currie received a warm welcome on arrival at the Nottingham Writers' Club on Wednesday evening, where she gave a lecture to enthusiastic applause.

She told the audience a contributing factor for her publishing her diaries was that the editor of her book had realised her secret after reading her novels.

The former health minister spent Wednesday giving a series of broadcast interviews, telling the BBC she was part of "the making of a prime minister".

But she described his back to basics policy as "evil" and said she was upset at being offered the "crap" job of prisons minister.

Mrs Currie told Radio Five Live: "He behaved in an atrocious fashion and it's a shame. And it wasn't just me."

Key stories




See also:

01 Oct 02 | UK
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |