1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of John Major’s speech at an event for Cancer Research UK, held at the Paris Restaurant, in Woburn, on Thursday 2nd September 2004.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
When Steven Dixon invited, I was delighted to accept. Steven’s parents -
And it was such a waste of a man who could -
Ian was a vibrant man and someone you don’t forget. A poet once wrote: “no man is gone while his friends remember him”: on that premise, Ian is with us tonight and always will be.
Cancer has touched nearly everyone. It took my mother-
And that, of course, is the purpose of research: lives can be saved that otherwise would be lost. It is why I’m pleased to be here amongst donors who have given generously to the charity.
We are making progress -
But, everyone here knows that, acts upon it and I need not labour the point.
Many years ago, there was a financial journalist, Patrick Hutner, who used to argue that “improvement means deterioration”.
One can see what he meant. Last week, my wife bought two volumes of the letter Elizabeth Barrett wrote to Robert Browning and his replies. Often they wrote twice a day and the letters were delivered the same day. Today -
So do politics in a grander scale. The League of Nations and the UN were founded to solve international problems and yet they’re as prevalent today as ever. It is ironic that it was the US who effectively founded the UN and yet these days Congress refuses to pay its subscription and the Administration bypasses it when it can.
Our world has six billion souls. Of these six billion, one-
The rich nations do much to help -
It seems to me that long-
In helping others, surely we help ourselves as well. For, 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.
Because 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 -
Much the same argument applies to AIDS.
There was a time when untutored opinion thought AIDS was a self-
We know better now.
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-
No part of the world is untouched but the poorer countries bear the greatest burden and have the least resources to cope with it.
The catalogue of catastrophe unfolds. 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.
The horror statistics roll on.
AIDS has many nightmarish qualities, but one in particular that bodes ill for the future. The virus is cunning: the time-
We live, therefore, in an imperfect world. We cannot expect our Governments to solve all our problems.
Individual endeavour is important. Sometimes -
We cannot solve all the ills of the world in our time. But we can ease many of them which brings me back to where I started.
Cancer is one of the great scourges of our time. It induces private terror in those who fear they may have it.
We owe it to them to do all we can to find a solution: let me end by thanking you all for what you have done (and are doing) to bring this about.