1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech at the Papworth Trust Appeal Dinner, held at New Hall in Cambridge on Friday 7th April 2006.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
It is a long time since Mike Bloomfield invited me to this dinner and I am delighted to be here.
Gastronomically, it’s certainly been more enjoyable than dinners I’ve attended elsewhere.
I recall sharing -
Pigs bladders with Helmut Kohl in Badhofstein
Unspeakable part of a sheep with King Abdullah in a tent in the desert
And a dinner in South Korea that would have been more wholesome had it been prepared by Lucrezia Borgia.
There were no such problems this evening.
More enjoyable was dinner with Bill Clinton in which everyone else in the restaurant was from the Secret Service. And an in-
These are precious memories. Very few of those who are disabled have the chance to live a life which has such moments.
Twenty years ago, I was Minister for the Disabled and saw at close quarters the inability of the State to provide all the help that is needed. Without charities such as the Papworth Trust many disabled people would live a miserable life.
This evening, we are raising funds for the Saxongate Learning Centre which will be a marvellous resource for the whole area. It will draw the town together. And -
It’s an intriguing concept ... a learning centre. For people who are disabled, learning often means painful striving to do things most of us take for granted -
Plato’s great contribution was to develop the science of -
Is it logical that the richer we become as a nation, the more we rely on private philanthropy to help charities?
Is it logical that the richer the world becomes, the more the overall burden of poverty seems to rise?
Is it logical that -
I think not. Tonight, gathered here, are people who act to alleviate the miseries of disability. That is wonderful -
350 years ago, John Donne wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself”.
That truism is even more relevant in today’s world.
For in Donne’s age, events from one far corner of the world did not have an impact on another. Today, they do. There is no hiding place. Nothing is as it was: nothing will be as it is.
Twenty years ago, we lived in a world of two super-
Nor would the free market be so dominant or such a target for terrorist groups.
Today, we live in a world that is economically liberal -
For two reasons, I think: the mal-
History is instructive here. When Britain had an Empire, we were universally detested. Hundreds of millions resented our power and wealth. Even as they paid lip service to our face, they rejoiced if we were discomforted. Today, those same hostile emotions are directed against mature democracies by terrorism.
Sometimes, there is a tendency to think of terrorism as if it were a global conspiracy. Certainly, some groups have widespread tentacles. Sometimes there is co-
But there is no worldwide conspiracy. Mostly, terrorist groups are close-
These may overlap but they are not joined together in an over-
But, since the rise of Al Qaeda, there is, however, a layer of peripheral groups who share the same ideology, seek the same ends and use similar tactics.
We must understand what they are about.
Al Qaeda's objective is the unification of the Islamic community around the world; its purification and the imposition of the most literal translation of strict Sharia Law.
They wish to see the world divided between Islam -
Their tactics we know: distortion of the Koran, indiscriminate terror; and the call for a Holy War against all who oppose them.
The threat of terrorism is not new: it has been with us since ancient times; but now terror is globalising -
Nor is Terrorism targeted only against the West. Think of the bombs in Bali. Or Jerusalem. Or the school siege in Moscow. Or Sarin gas in Tokyo. Or atrocities in Kashmir. The signature of mass-
Here is -
When Spain, Portugal and Greece dumped Fascism -
When Communism collapsed -
When Apartheid ended -
Terrorism can claim none of these victories -
Always, the effect of terror is to create chaos. To de-
Terrorism and democracy are fundamentally opposed. They cannot co-
My answer is -
It will not be a short conflict. But, over time, terror can be beaten and the potency of its threat removed.
So, if democracy can win, how can it do so?
To win, all nations threatened by terrorism need to co-
We must accept we cannot win by military power alone, but concede that we cannot win without it.
We must ask ourselves -
The answers to these questions are not always palatable.
In much of the world ideological radicalisation has fed the untruth that the religion of Islam is under attack. Al Qaeda assert this every day. Radicals use this belief as a recruiting sergeant to fuel their cause. Events such as the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have fed this perception as has the failure to bring the Middle East Peace Process to a successful conclusion.
The Radicals case is crude propaganda, and wrong, but it is effective. To rebut it, democracy must fight for the hearts and minds of those into whose ears radical poison is poured. Words alone will not do: they must accept obligations that illustrate the morality of democracy.
One example stands out. Our world has six billion souls. Of these six billion, one-
It is hard to imagine the disparity between the life of these three billion people, with the life of someone in richer countries -
To put that into context: we spend seven times as much subsidising cheap food for those already well-
In removing grievances, we cut away the resentment of the "have-
In the next 25 years, world population will grow from 6 billion to 8 billion.
Of the extra 2 billion, 97% will be in that part of the world that has an income below US $2 per day. This is not sustainable if we wish to sustain a free market in a world free of conflict. Nor is it moral.
But if the world acts early, acts now, acts out of conscience -
For in a shrinking world, the problems of others cannot be shrugged aside as someone else’s responsibility.
And the changes -
In the late 18th Century the British Prime Minister, William Pitt, was reflecting on Britain's relationship with America and realised he had not heard from his Ambassador in Washington for a long time. He picked up his pen and wrote to his Foreign Secretary: "If we have not heard from the Ambassador in another year -
Today, the leisurely world of William Pitt is long gone. Politics -
We have a global economy. The political map is fluid. Each day, technology and communications move forward.
The speed of medical advance is already as bewildering as the demand for medical services in infinite. Yet it will grow: the mapping of the human genome system will lead to an explosion of demand for preventative care and, where this is provided, to an increase in life expectancy.
There is a pattern here in all aspects of our life. Science and technology is accelerating change which already takes place at break-
What might this mean for the new century? What scale of change might we see?
Consider this: first, how the pace of change is accelerating ahead of us; and second, the sheer scale of the change behind us.
At the beginning of the 20th century, no-
There would have been amazement -
In 1900, the Europeans were dominant.
The United Kingdom, France and Russia controlled 80% of the world’s surface.
How things have changed.
The Ottoman Empire has gone.
The French Empire has gone.
The British Empire has gone.
The Russian Empire has both come -
The US is now the most powerful nation in the world with the two most populous nations -
The impact of all this is not simply on economics and politics.
Children born today will see the conquest of the stars.
They will live longer, see more, do more, know more than any earlier generation. They will see deserts bloom. See a genetic rebuilding of failing bodies.
Live with technical innovations beyond our present imagination.
It will be a world unrecognisable to their forebears.
In that world, we need to look -