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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 29 March 1943Carshalton, Surrey, England, UK
Birth NameJohn Roy Major
Nickname Grey Man
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Major was born on March 29, 1943 in London. He was the son of Tom Major-Ball, a retired circus performer who was 65 when John Major was born. He attended Cheam Common Primary School and Rutlish Grammar School, where he had an undistinguished academic career. In the mid '50s, his family was forced to move to Brixton, a poor neighborhood in South London and live in a cramped flat on Coldharbour Lane. John Major did not do well in secondary school and dropped out at age 16. Much later, he said that he could have been a better student and wished he had stayed in school. Throughout the early 1960s, John Major worked odd jobs, but was unemployed for much of the time. He occupied himself by joining the Young Conservatives. He finally found steady employment in 1963, working for the London Electricity Board. He also took a correspondence course in banking, which would become his main career. He took a job as an executive at the Standard Charter Bank, which sent him on a business trip to Nigeria in 1967. Nigeria was in the middle of the Biafra War and John Major almost died in a car crash there. He survived the car accident, but lost a kneecap. He married his wife, Norma Wagstaff, in October 1970 and they have two children. In the 1979 General Election, John Major was elected Conservative MP for Huntington. He served in Parliament for twenty-two years. When neighboring MP John Wakeham was badly injured in the 1984 Brighton bombing, John Major acted as substitute MP for Wakeham's constituency. The following year, John Major was appointed Minister for Pensions and Social Security. He was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1987 and in 1989, was appointed Foreign Secretary. He accompanied Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the trip to Malaysia to meet with heads of other Commonwealth Countries. But after being Foreign Secretary for only three months, he was moved to the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. In November 1990, Michael Heseltine contested Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Margaret Thatcher did not win the required two-thirds majority to remain leader, so a second ballot was held. Margaret Thatcher's cabinet all told her that she would lose a leadership ballot to Michael Heseltine and encouraged her to resign. So on November 22, 1990, Margaret Thatcher stood down as Prime Minister. But the Conservatives still had to elect a new leader. Michael Heseltine was in for the second ballot. John Major now entered the contest, as Margaret Thatcher's preferred candidate. So did Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary. John Major won the second ballot and went on to become Prime Minister. John Major had some giant shoes to fill on becoming Prime Minister. At first, people welcomed his quiet, low-key and modest public manner, but it quickly became clear that John Major was just not up to the job. Nonetheless, he narrowly won the 1992 General Election for the Conservative Party. Major's term in office brought Britain's humiliating withdrawal from the ERM in late-1992. He tried to steer a middle course on Europe, but only angered both the pro-Europeans and the Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party. His failure to ratify the Maastrict Treaty in Britain cost him. He tried to re-focus the Conservative Party on "basics"--rule of law, police, family values, education--but this backfired as the media was encouraged to start digging for scandal, and they found it. His authority was so badly diminished that in 1995, he brought matters to a head by calling a leadership ballot for July and vowing to step down if he did not receive the required majority. His line to his opponents was "Put up or shut up." He won the ballot, but it resolved nothing and he spent his last two years in office marking time. The Conservative Party lost its majority in Parliament in December 1996, but John Major managed to stay in office for a few more months. Finally, his term ran out and he called a General Election for May 1997. It was a long campaign, in which he hoped to stave off defeat and give the Labour Party, now led by Tony Blair, enough time to trip up and lose the election. But on 1 May 1997, the Conservative Party suffered its worst-ever defeat. Labour won by a landslide, with a 179 seat majority in Parliament. John Major held his seat, but a number of cabinet ministers went down to defeat. John Major resigned as leader of the Conservative Party immediately after the election, but he remained in Parliament until he stood down in the 2001 election. As Prime Minister, John Major engaged in the first real negotiations with Sinn Fein to bring about peace in Northern Ireland and lay the groundwork for the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ended the thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jeff Fallis

Spouse (1)

Norma Christina Elizabeth Johnson (3 October 1970 - present) (2 children)

Trivia (11)

British prime minister (1990-1997).
Became a Conservative member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1979.
Children: Elizabeth (b. 1971) and James (b. 1975).
Retired from the Commons at the 2001 General Election.
Younger brother of his biographer Terry Major-Ball and the youngest son of Tom and Gwen Major.
President of Surrey County Cricket Club (2001-2002).
Created "A Companion of Honour", on his retirement from Parliament.
Is one of three former Prime Ministers to have declined a peerage, which would have given him a seat in the House of Lords. The other two were Winston Churchill and Edward Heath. Harold Macmillan declined a peerage upon his retirement from the Commons in 1964, although he accepted an hereditary peerage in 1984 and became the 1st Earl of Stockton.
Was made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter on April 23, 2005, and is now known as Sir John Major.
Educated at Rutlish Grammar School and left with 'O' levels in History, English Language and English Literature. He is one of very few British prime ministers who did not attend a university.
President of Surrey County Cricket Club. [July 2001]

Personal Quotes (15)

As I prepare to leave the House I wish to see it thrive, because, for all its shortcomings, it remains the best and least corrupt system of government that I have ever seen.
People say elections are tough and gruelling and, up to a point, they are true but they are also a lot of fun.
I have been a Member of Parliament for 18 years. I have been a member of the Government for 14 years, of the Cabinet for ten years and Prime Minister since 1990. When the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage and that is what I propose to do.
We must go back to basics. We want our children to be taught the best; our public services to give the best; our British industry to be the best. And the Conservative Party will lead the country back to these basics right across the board: sound money; free trade; traditional teaching; respect for the family and the law.
"I was forty-seven, I had the job I had wanted all my life and I had only had it for a year." (On being Margaret Thatcher's final Chancellor of the Exchequer)
I know the Labour Party. I grew up with it. I know the envy - and, yes, the spite - that so often motivates it.
Labour's vision is clear. It goes as follows. If it is successful - tax it, penalize it, control it, nationalize it.
Labour don't trust the people with their own money, with their own choices, with their own future.
Losing power doesn't particularly worry me, it's the nature of politics, you win some you lose some.
In economic policy, in further privatisation, in law and order, I was no counter-revolutionary. In these policies, I led the Thatcherite march onwards with conviction - for I believed in it.
New Labour owes me a great debt. Very many of the ideas put forward against us in the 1997 general election campaign were ones I myself had advocated five years earlier: choice, ownership, responsibility and opportunity.
The language of New Labour may have been first-rate, but it was second-hand.
We've had over 20 British albums top the charts in countries around the world. It's not just the established stars like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. You have Adele, One Direction, Susan Boyle. Wherever you go, they're household names and they have an implication for perception and thus soft power. That is a background that few countries can match in terms of profile and that is important for our diplomacy. Because people see and think about Britain, because of these elements of soft power, and because of our history, there is...a greater tendency to trust the British in diplomacy.
In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or affluent middle class. To me, from my background, I find that truly shocking.
Alright, okay, we lost.

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