Back to Basics attempted to relaunch the government of John Major
Back to Basics was an attempt to relaunch the government of British Prime Minister John Major in 1993; a year after winning the general election the party's reputation was declining, not least due to the Black Wednesday economic debacle of September 1992. Announced at the Party Conference of that year, the initiative was intended to focus on issues of law and order, education and public probity (especially single mothers) after the debacle of Black Wednesday had damaged the Conservative Party's perceived ability to safeguard public finance. Back to Basics was widely interpreted as a moral campaign. Ironically, in 2002 Major himself was revealed to have had an affair with former Conservative minister Edwina Currie.
- Tim Yeo's extramarital affair resulting in him fathering a "love-child" in 1993
- Revelations about the private life of Steve Norris who during the "back to basics" era was revealed to have had five "mistresses over a 25 year period something that earned him the nickname "Shagger" in the tabloid media.
- Northern Ireland Minister Michael Mates resigned after being found to have lobbied Parliament on behalf of businessman Asil Nadir.
- Scottish Office minister Allan Stewart resigned after waving an axe at an anti-motorway protester.
- Hartley Booth's amorous, unreciprocated pursuit of his secretary in 1995.
- Jonathan Aitken's alleged procurement of prostitutes for Arab businessmen, their payment of his Paris Ritz hotel bill, and his subsequent conviction and prison sentence for perjury after the resulting libel trial in which he unsuccessfully attempted to sue The Guardian over the story.
- Piers Merchant's affairs with a night club hostess, and his researcher in 1997
- The "outing" of Conservative MP Jerry Hayes who was revealed to be having an affair with a man who was below what was then the age of consent for homosexual relations.
The phrase has since become used by UK political commentators to describe any failed attempt by a political party leader to relaunch themselves following a scandal or controversy. The phrase was satirized in the Viz strip Baxter Basics.
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Further reading