The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

It always was. I mean, I -- I disliked the sort of politicking that was done from television studios and from radio studios and through the columns of the newspaper. It cut you off. You were cut off from the public at large, and it was for that reason that I went out to start holding public meetings again, even on a soapbox, during that particular election. And the response was such that I simply could not believe that we were going to lose that particular election. The opinion polls said we were going to lose it. The wise heads said we were going to lose it. A fourth successive election victory seemed very unlikely, hadn't been done for a very, very, very long time. All that suggested we were going to lose it, but it didn't feel that way. It didn't feel that way to me. It felt that way out on the streets, that there was a warmth that suggested to me that we were going to win that election.

The only occasion I wavered in that was one night flying back from -- I think it might have been Birmingham, but I can't be certain, with Chris Patten when the opinion polls the next morning all had us 7 or 8 per cent behind and Chris had early copies. That's the only time I wavered, but only very briefly then, because the next day, out among the crowds, it was a quite different feel.

So I may have been delusional, but I thought all the way through that we were going to win that election. I was as clearcut about that as I was about knowing we were going to be in difficulty in 1997. Not impossible, but I thought it was going to be very difficult in 1997.

So I did genuinely believe we would win, and as it happens, we got pretty much the biggest plurality of votes that any party had had for a very long time. We actually got more votes than any political party in history in 1992, but the distribution of the vote and the maldistribution of the constituency boundaries meant we only had a majority of 21, despite a huge lead in votes. A majority of 21, of whom not everyone was steady on parade, as we were subsequently to find out. But yes, I did think we would win, always.

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