Drop the puerile slogans, Sir John Major tells party leaders

From BBC - November 6, 2017

Sir John Major has hit out at the use of "puerile" political slogans as he called for more honesty in government about the challenges facing the UK.

The ex-prime minister said political leaders should avoid "deceitful" sound bites and be more candid about the limitations of what government can do.

In a speech in London, he recounted how his use of the phrase "back to basics" in 1993 had ended up "perverting a thoroughly worthwhile social policy".

Sir John was PM between 1990 and 1997.

Addressing an audience in Westminster Abbey, Sir John also warned about factionalism in his party and the British political system as a whole and of the risk that "partisan" voices "appealing to the extremes" posed to democracy.

"The anti-European right wish to control the Conservative Party," he said. "The neo-Marxist left wish to dominate Labour. Both are making headway in a battle for the soul of their respective parties."

In a strong attack on what he suggested was the debasing of modern politics, he called for special advisers to be reined in, saying they were being used as "attack dogs", leaking material and usurping civil servants.

'Worth nothing'

He suggested the language of politics was being corrupted by the tendency of politicians to fall back on pre-prepared and meaningless sound bites.

Sir John, who has called Brexit a historic blunder, cited the Leave campaign's promise during the EU referendum to "take back control" as a "memorable example of pitch-perfect absurdity".


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