Sir John Major He was born in London, England, on March 29, 1943. He is a British politician, public official, and prime minister of the United Kingdom between 1990 and 1997.
John Major, a Young Conservative activist in Brixton, entered politics as a young man. He was 21 when he ran for Lambeth Council. The seat was won and he became chairman of the Housing Committee. He was unsuccessful in two attempts to be elected to Parliament in St Pancras in 1974. In 1979, he won Huntingdonshire.
He was elected to the House of Commons in 1979’s Conservative Party landslide. His rapid rise through the party ranks was due in part to the interest patronage of senior party officials, including Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In 1986, he was made a junior minister and in 1987, he was appointed chief secretary to Treasury. In July 1989, Thatcher elevated him to the crucial cabinet post of foreign secretary. Major was barely in the post for three months when a cabinet reshuffle saw him become chancellor at the Exchequer. He was in a good position to compete for the Conservative Party leadership and the role of prime minister when Thatcher announced her resignation unexpectedly. Major was elected to the party’s leadership in a three-way race and became the prime minister of Great Britain, November 28, 1990. Major agreed with Most of Thatcher’s conservatism, but he was more theatrical as prime minister. The Conservatives won the first general election after Major’s ascendancy in April 1992. This confirmed his leadership.
He became a ministerial assistant in 1981 and then a minister in 1985. He was appointed Chief Secretary to Treasury in 1987 and quickly gained the respect of his colleagues. In 1989, he was promoted to Foreign Secretary and shortly thereafter to Chancellor of Exchequer.
Major’s first year in office coincided closely with a prolonged economic recession (1990-1993). His government was increasingly dispopular, despite an economic recovery that saw steady growth, a dramatic decrease in unemployment and low inflation in the mid-1990s.
The 1992 general election saw him win with the Conservatives winning the most popular votes, but with a smaller majority (21), which was itself reduced by the defeats in the parliament. This victory was due to the reversal of the controversial poll tax, Community Charge (introduced at the end under the Thatcher government).
In 1995-96, a joint British-Irish initiative achieved a temporary ceasefire by Protestants and Roman Catholics involved in the long-running conflict over Northern Ireland. Major’s poll ratings were still very low. This was partly due to the unpopularity of his 1993 tax increases and partly because Major was seen as an indecisive and colourless leader. There was also a general sense of impatience and weariness in Britain about the Conservative Party. It had been ruling without interruption for 18-years and had just come out of several scandals involving ministers. In general elections held May 1, 1997, the Conservatives lost decisively to a revived Labour Party under Tony Blair. Major resigned from both the Conservative Party leadership and the prime ministership shortly afterward. Major, however, was active in politics and served as an MP until his retirement in 2001.