Britain Votes and Reality Waits

Whatever the outcome of Britain's general election on May 6, the next government will face a daunting challenge. It is not just that tough measures will be need to rein in public spending for years to come, but, more worryingly, that many voters seem to be in denial about that fact.

LONDON – I don’t mean to sound as though I am bragging, but the last time the Conservative Party won an election in Britain was 1992, when John Major was Prime Minister. The chairman of the party at the time, running the winning campaign, was me.

We won the election, but I lost my own race for a parliamentary seat and was sent off to Hong Kong as the colony’s last British governor. So I wasn’t around when the Conservative Party, losing the will to govern, tore itself apart in the mid-1990’s over Britain’s role in Europe. As Winston Churchill said, the problem with committing political suicide is that you live to regret it.

Despite piloting the economy through a post-recession recovery, Major lost to Tony Blair in 1997, ending 18 years of Conservative government and bringing a 13-year Labour run, which will probably end when Britain votes for a new government on May 6.

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