Former prime minister Sir John Major has said the Conservative-Liberal coalition should be prepared to continue beyond the next election.
Sir John, speaking at Cambridge University, said he hoped a way could be found to “prolong co-operation” if necessary.
He said Labour’s 13 years in power had not been “serious government” but were a time when “everyone was made to feel better while being fleeced”.
“Many Tories and Liberals are hostile – or, at least, agnostic – to the coalition,” said Sir John, during a lecture at Churchill College, Cambridge. “I approve of it. In present circumstances, it has many attractions: not least that two parties are more likely to enjoy a tolerant electorate for policies that are painful.”
He added: “It will be hard pounding but its programme is essential to national wellbeing and so, if uncompleted, I hope some way can be found to prolong co-operation beyond this parliament.”
Sir John said Labour had a huge majority when it ousted his Conservative government in 1997 and could have done “anything”.
“But, after 18 years out of office, they were determined not to return to opposition,” he added. “The public were told what focus groups said they wished to hear. Good news was announced and re-announced. Bad news was buried. And the electorate was bribed with its own money. Emerging problems were ignored and are still with us.
“The general effect was a giant Ponzi scheme, in which everyone was made to feel better whilst being fleeced. In its own way, it was genius. But it was not serious government – and those emerging problems are now worse.”
Sir John gave the lecture after his personal papers were placed in an archive at Churchill College.
University officials said the Major papers would be lodged alongside those of Sir Winston Churchill, Conservative Prime Minister during the Second World War. The personal papers of former Conservative Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher and former Labour leader Lord Kinnock are also lodged at the college