The political honeymoon is over for Prime Minister John Major. His decision to scrap Margaret Thatcher's controversial poll tax, approved by Parliament on Mar. 27, has touched off a free-for-all in the Tory Party and an unexpected backlash among voters. The new tax plan, which combines a head tax and property levies, is just as bad as the old Thatcher scheme, voters believe. The Conservatives are now narrowly trailing Labor in the polls.
Among Tories, the tax flip-flop has left Major tarred as indecisive and wimpish. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson derides the new levy as "son of poll tax." Thatcherite populists also complain the new plan shifts power from local authorities to the central government. With the turmoil, Major strategists are backing away from plans for a June election.