Major: Right-wing battle awaits Cameron

John Major calls on right-wing Conservatives to pipe down
John Major calls on right-wing Conservatives to pipe down

John Major has backed David Cameron to become the first Conservative prime minister since he himself stepped down in 1997, but only if the current leader can silence the party's right-wing once and for all.

Mr Cameron used his maiden conference speech as leader of the Conservatives to claim the party had only ever been successful when pursuing and occupying the centre ground.

And today former Tory leader Mr Major told Sky News' Sunday Live that the bid to reclaim the centre ground from Labour was the correct one.

"How many elections do [MPs] wish to lose by moving to the right? The fact of the matter is you need to be in the centre ground of politics to carry people with you and to win elections, and of course that is where the majority of people are," he said.

"It is necessary to make sure a political party doesn't become divorced from those people, and I think we did, and I think David Cameron is entirely right to move back in that direction."

Right-wing stalwarts such as Norman Tebbit and Edward Leigh have warned their leader that his stance is likely to encourage party members and supporters to switch to the UK Independence party (Ukip).

But Mr Major said Mr Cameron's effort to defeat the party's right-wing echoed Mr Blair's successful drive to discard Labour's left-wing traditionalists in the run-up to the 1997 election.

"The fact of the matter is the right wing is not in tune with the majority of people in the UK these days. They are still singing songs from the 1980s and they are out of date and they are out of touch," he said.

"I think if the right wing were to win their battle with David Cameron then the Conservative party will lose. If David Cameron wins his battle with the right wing then I think he will win the election and become prime minister."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.