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A Political Suicide gives an insider's account of the Conservative Party's extraordinary journey from the victory of Margaret Thatcher in 1979 to the humiliating defeat of 1997 and beyond, with repercussions that still reverberate today. Norman Fowler was at the heart of the party for many years, as a Cabinet minister with Mrs Thatcher, as party chairman for John Major and in William Hague's shadow Cabinet. The book is largely drawn from diaries kept by the author during the 1980s and 1990s.This fascinating story looks at the key landmarks from 1979 onwards: Margaret Thatcher's early struggles in Cabinet and her unpopularity, redeemed by the Falklands War; her disastrous leadership battle with Michael Heseltine in 1990, which with different tactics she could have won; the start of John Major's premiership and his surprise election victory; in an extended diary extract, the Black Autumn of 1992, when the government abandoned the ERM, provoked a pits crisis and faced rebellions on the Maastricht treaty; the deteriorating relations between Thatcher and Major, her chosen successor; the 'back to basics' scandals, ending with an attempt to introduce a new privacy law; and, the rout of 1997 and its aftermath, with the merry-go-round of leadership changes. When he began the book, Norman Fowler thought that its message would be for Conservatives alone. Since then, Gordon Brown has faced an electoral decline which in many ways matches the fall of John Major, with divisions inside the party, rows on finance and governmental blunders. A Political Suicide concludes by drawing a number of lessons from the years of conflict in government and the time in the wilderness - which are required reading for a party which could again be on the verge of power.
Norman Fowler (Lord Fowler) was a member of Margaret Thatcher's government from 1981 to 1990, serving as Secretary of State for Health and then for Employment, before resigning to spend more time with his family. He returned to prominence under John Major, first as party chairman from 1992 to 1994 and then as shadow Home Secretary from 1997 to 1999, becoming a life peer in 2001. During his important political career, he witnessed key events in the history of the Conservative Party, as well as keeping a detailed diary, used here for the first time.