10 OCTOBER 1998, Page 32

LETTERS Wanted: a lead on Europe

Sir: Edward Heathcoat Amory concludes that it is futile to speculate why four million Tory voters abandoned John Major in 1997 ('Who stayed home?', 3 October). He says that nobody knows which theory is correct: Mr Heseltine's argument that they were pro-Europeans switching to Labour or the Liberals; or Lord Tebbit's belief that they abstained or voted Referendum in disgust at Major's failure to be more Eurosceptic.

He overlooks the most important factor: the lack of leadership on the European issue. Why vote for a leader who can nei- ther make up his own mind nor persuade his lieutenants to sing from one hymn- sheet? Sleaze and staleness probably ensured a Tory defeat. The lack of leader- ship turned it into a rout.

Clearly some hardline Europhiles and Eurosceptics voted in accordance with Hes- eltine's and Tebbit's respective theories, but William Hague can take comfort from the thought that most voters will follow leaders who show the courage of their con- victions; all the more so if those convictions accord with a widespread dislike of creep- ing European political integration.

Philip Gretton

Middle Bouts Farm, Inkberrow, Worcestershire