1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech made at the Worshipful Company of Farmers Livery Luncheon, held at the Farmers Fletchers Hall on Tuesday 6th June 2006.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
When Henry Plumb invited me to join you today, I was delighted to accept. I was the Member of Parliament for a rural constituency for 22 years and enjoyed a close relationship with the farming community.
So, I wasn’t surprised to be told I could speak on any subject I wished -
In this private lunch, I would like to exercise a few hobby horses -
In all its long history, farming has had many highs and lows -
As a nation, we are foolish if we don’t maintain a full variety of agriculture and we must never make ourselves too dependent on imported food.
In today’s world -
In areas of manufacturing that may be unavoidable -
We may argue and discuss about what needs to be done about CAP, about Single Farm Payments, about so much else -
In a micro way, farming has some weapons it doesn’t use. If individual farmers negotiate with supermarket chains, so be it -
These days I am out of politics -
In our changing world, Government becomes more complex. Many decisions that were once the prerogative of Nation States are now made either collectively in wider fora, or predetermined by the impact of globalisation. Many of the levers of power available to Nation States twenty years ago are no longer there. As the free market grows in power, politics loses it. All this adds to the frustration the electorate often feels about the performance of Governments.
I don’t wish to stray into partisan politics but, in the interests of the health of our political system, we do need to correct the present negative impression of politics.
What the electorate sees today is a new approach in politics -
I have noticed, too, that whenever the present Government are in difficulties (and this seems increasingly often) they tend to trot out the familiar line that Margaret Thatcher and John Major had the same problems. Even if that were true -
Then, of course, there is spin. Spin is merely a polite term for deception -
Obsession with spin not only degrades politics -
I fear our political system may be about to suffer another blow. For reasons of electoral fairness we limit the sums that can be spent in elections. That is right. It would also be right to limit the size of donations to a party from any individual or company or union in a single Parliament. But, it would not, in my view, be wise to move further down the route of party politics simply being funded by the taxpayer. The taxpayer should not be a bran-
Until then, parties should match expenditure to income -
Many of the problems facing future governments will be long-
There is one reform upon which I believe I may be an unreconstructed minority. Present opinion seems to be moving towards a reform of the House of Lords that would include a very large, if not completely, elected Upper House. I am very wary of this. I can -
Given my views on such matters, it is perhaps rather a good thing that I am no longer in politics -
In a world that changes, politics must change but -
I do believe we need a new, more considered, view of politics in future. A politics that confronts the uncomfortable. Politics that rises above the short-
And frankly, the sooner -