A little question for you…

In the recent history of the Conservative Party there are two standout and, I believe, negative events: (1) The 1990 ousting of Margaret Thatcher and (2) The events of Black Wednesday 1992 when Britain was forced out of the ERM.

Which of those two events has done more to contribute to the difficulties we have had over the last fifteen or so years?

The ousting of Margaret Thatcher was the worst event in modern Tory history:
  Many will, of course, say that the ousting of Margaret Thatcher was justified by the subsequent victory for John Major at the 1992 general election.  But the long-term consequences have been hugely destabilising for the party.  A party that could remove a sitting Prime Minister (who had transformed Britain and had won three elections) was capable of anything.  The party gained a reputation for being ruthless in the pursuit of its own interests.  A poison entered the bloodstream of the party in November 1990 and every Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher has been undermined by leadership speculation about their future.  The wiser course would have been for Margaret Thatcher to have gone to the country as party leader in 1992 and have been removed from Downing Street by the electorate.  The Thatcherites’ sense of grievance would not then have existed and Neil Kinnock would have presided over Black Wednesday.

No, Black Wednesday was worse:
  No political party can win elections if it’s not seen as economically competent.  On Black Wednesday the Conservative reputation for superior economic management was lost and we’ve only just begun – almost exactly fifteen years later – to recover that reputation.  The exit came shortly after a series of ‘Top Tory sex scandals’ and this led The Sun of Thursday 17th September 1992 to declare: ‘Now we’ve all been screwed by the Cabinet’.  Many in the party seemed indifferent to the misery of those recessionary years – some reportedly sang in the bath while homeowners sank into negative equity.  Black Wednesday also ignited the deepest divisions over Europe that raged until recently.


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