Legacy of 1992

In his assessment of the importance of the outcome of the 1992 general election, Andrew Whitaker missed a number of key points (Perspective, 15 April).

The real significance for ­Labour was that its defeat prompted a complete review of strategy. It was the election that showed it had not fully come to terms with the aspirations of middle-income voters. It ended its commitment to “tax and spend” as a means of achieving social justice.

Significantly, although the Conservative majority was reduced to 21, that party achieved the highest vote of any political party since the end of the Second World War.

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Voters – south of the Border at least – trusted it on vital matters like leadership, the economy, the ability to run a government. It was the debacle of the currency crisis in September of that year that destroyed prime minister John Major’s credibility.

Despite repeated assertions about the importance of the European exchange rate mechanism, he and chancellor Norman Lamont were forced finally to abandon it in the face of international turmoil in the markets.

It served to reinforce the perception that the Conservatives, then as now, were seriously divided on Europe. Lurking in the shadows of that disaster was David Cameron, then a policy adviser to Mr Lamont.

1992 is no doubt seared in Mr Cameron’s memory as a ­reminder of how damaging the question of Europe can be for his party. In terms of Labour’s ­narrative, it was the year it ­finally became convinced that the old dogmas of the past would no longer chime with a more affluent electorate.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court