1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of John Major’s speech at the Hope and Homes for Children Event held at Harewood House, in Yorkshire, on Friday 3rd September 2004.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
Most of us are parents or grandparents or both.
Not only have children … brought them up.
Seen their vulnerability -
Even when they're adults we still care for them -
Even so -
But hundreds of millions are not … and it is children like these that Hope and Homes for Children cares for.
What are we doing for these children now and what will be the legacy of this generation to the next.
Before I turn directly to that, let me offer a sketch of the world as it is.
In the 17th Century, the English poet, John Donne, wrote: "No man is an island, entire of itself".
Today, in the 21st Century, we are all inter-
And our world is turbulent. We can foresee some of the changes to come. Others we cannot. But we can be certain the world of our future will be vastly different from our world of today.
We now live in a world without economic boundaries: once crumbling they are now gone.
As globalisation spreads, the command economy has all but disappeared. As the unfettered power of Government diminishes, the power of markets increase. As technology grows, markets never sleep.
Nor does the march of politics.
In the last few years, we have seen a political revolution that is reshaping the political map as surely as globalisation has transformed business and economies.
The most significant event of the last fifty years was the collapse of Soviet Russia.
At the time we all believed the world was safer. It was: the threat of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers had fallen. What we did not realise was that this global security came at a price: it unleashed far greater regional instability and foreshadowed a shifting map of the world.
For example, if the Soviet Union had not collapsed -
If the Soviet Union had not collapsed, would the EU be about to admit ten more Member States -
If the Soviet Union hadn’t collapsed, would a coalition of nations now be engaged in a War Against Terror knowing that -
We are also in a world in which economic growth is tilting from West to East and yet -
If one looks around our world, what are the problems that stand out?
Of course. I don’t intend to delve into this contentious issue tonight, except to say that it may cast a long shadow for many years. Similarly, Palestine seems impossible to solve and sets Nation against Nation. These disputes unsettle relationships far beyond the Middle East. In particular, they divide Moslems around the world -
But these are issues for another time and place. This evening, I want to touch upon two great social problems that are more costly in lives than Iraq or the Arab-
Poverty is not only an evil in itself: it also fuels despair and can be a recruiting sergeant for terrorism. At minimum, it offers a ready ear for those who wish to foster hatred against richer and more developed nations.
As we look forward, we should assess the political, social and economic long-
In some parts of the world, corruption and poverty condemn untold millions to a life of misery and hardship. Some may say: “Well, that’s their problem. Bad Government, bad economic decisions, bad judgements made this problem.” Well, may be -
Our world has six billion souls. Of these six billion, one-
I saw it first forty years ago when I went to work in Nigeria during the Biafra war. The poverty and hardship was unimaginable as people lived in filth and squalor and without hope or help. I still see it in many parts of the world.
The rich nations do much to help -
It seems to me that long-
In helping others, we help ourselves. In removing grievances, we cut away the resentment of the “have-
Moreover, if we do nothing, the problem will worsen. 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 our children to inherit a world free of conflict. Nor is it moral.
In the 1940s/50s -
Not even the wealth of America could do that these days. But, in a world of growing global security -
It will come -
But act early, act out of conscience -
I am conscious that many may say -
There are pleas I can make in mitigation -
As I look back, I should have done more. I wish I had. But the chance is gone. Now I am an older and wiser man and I hope to persuade my successors to raise their game. The cause is good, the need is very great, and action is imperative. That is why the work of charities like Hope and Homes is so necessary.
A related problem worsens the situation immeasurably -
There was a time when untutored opinion thought AIDS was a self-
We know better now. So tragically do millions of innocent people: adults, children and babies.
To date, 20 million people have died of AIDS and around 40 million more may now have the disease. Of that 40 million, 6 million may be near-
It is a worldwide epidemic. The Caribbean, India, Europe East and West, China, Latin America -
The catalogue of catastrophe unfolds. In parts of the Commonwealth, the problem is acute. In Botswana, life expectancy is below 40 -
In Uganda, one million live with AIDS, and one million have died because of it.
In South Africa, one in eight has the virus. Many innocent children are infected in the womb or through breastfeeding and are born only to die young; others are orphans having lost both parents to the disease. It is a truly desperate situation.
The horror statistics roll on. AIDS is the bubonic plague of our Age.
It has many nightmarish qualities, but one in particular that bodes ill for the future. The virus is cunning: the time-
What can be done? Much is in hand through the WHO, individual Governments, and charitable organisations and it would help if the disputes between some of these bodies could be resolved -
This squabble reminds me of the legend of Buridan’s Ass. An Ass, faced with two equally desirable bales of hay, starves to death because he cannot find a reason for preferring one to the other -
We must solve these disputes speedily and decide whether generics are effective. For while the squabble continues, the sick suffer and the sick die.
Money is the root of all progress but is insufficient. Education on preventative care, medical treatment, and support, is vital but so is a comprehensive approach.
I have run these two problems -
Governments can't cope alone. They need help. They need the commitment of charities.
Hope and Homes is one of them. It is why they deserve all the help we can give them.