16 NOVEMBER 2002, Page 40

Lloyd George and Major

From Mr Jack Johnstone Sir: I enjoyed Charles Kennedy's review (Books, 9 November) of the late John Grigg's latest volume on Lloyd George. However, his reading of the incident in which Balfour praises Lloyd George rather misses the point.

Balfour was not, by this time, leader of the Conservative party. Bonar Law was. Balfour had earlier led a divided party to a disastrous electoral defeat, perhaps exacerbated by the very 'paucity of ambition and leadership skills' which Mr Kennedy says the op-ed pages would now attribute to him. In December 1916 the languid Balfour may have felt himself above the 'plotting and the tension' which are, in reality, essential in proper party politics.

Therefore a more suitable parallel would be with John Major, who perhaps these days finds Tony Blair 'usually wrong in a more interesting way than other people'.

Besides, Lloyd George's 'almost mystical relationship' with the nation did not stop the Tories dropping him when he really had become a prime minister without a party.

Jack Johnstone