1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s comments made at Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association on Wednesday 12th July 2006, also attended by Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
I’m outside politics now but -
Certainly I don't think I can recall a time in which the public were more out of love with politics than now.
Politicians are not trusted.
All this is a huge opportunity for the Conservative Party: if we sniff the political wind, we can smell the decay of this Government.
We Tories are the oldest political party in the world -
We are right to honour our past successes, but if we forever hark back to the past, we betray the future. We should ignore the ancestral voices that denounce any change in policy and look at what is right for tomorrow.
The world has moved on.
Our country has moved on.
Our Party must move on, too.
We do not want to ape Labour.
The infamy of what Labour have done is still largely hidden. It will emerge eventually but we need to dis-
1. they have undermined and politicised the civil service;
2. the way in which they have awarded Peerages is being investigated;
3. and from day one, they have offered a diet of half-
4. they have brought into Government all the black arts of smear, abuse, sharp practice, deceit and spin that they perfected in Opposition.
They have turned the serious business of Government into a marketing exercise.
As a result, their word is now discredited. People believe Ministers have the same fondness for the truth that King Herod had for babysitting. Public -
Consider one test alone: if the Prime Minister went to Parliament tomorrow to report that our Nation was under threat and we must go to war -
I think not -
It's not a question of whether the war was right or wrong. Or whether Saddam was a bad man -
The Prime Minister is reaching the end of his career and there is the expectation Gordon Brown will replace him.
Not an improvement.
It was Gordon Brown who taxed Pensions by £5 billion a year -
Brown is also responsible for the fiasco over tax benefits -
If Brown succeeds Blair, we are in deep trouble.
The way Government make decisions is appalling. Their policy making was sloppy on Iraq. Is sloppy on Afghanistan and looks as though it will be sloppy over Trident.
We are reinforcing our commitment in Southern Afghanistan.
The objective -
The question is: is this achievable with the resources available?
Have they forgotten the Russians put 120,000 soldiers into Afghanistan in 1979 -
When the Government place our soldiers in such peril -
In Afghanistan our own modest forces -
So far as I can see, no thought has been given to helping to provide an alternative income -
May be I’m out-
A similar incoherence looks likely over Trident. Trident is becoming out of date and we soon need to decide its future.
It’s not an easy decision: even an upgrade will cost £20 billion. It will have an effect on our total defence posture. We will need to build new nuclear submarines.
How many? We don’t know.
Do we wish to redesign rockets? Not clear.
What is the opportunity cost? Unknown.
Who would be the target? Not known.
All this should be discussed. Yet -
As we differentiate our approach from Labour, there are traps we must avoid.
I. Election to the Lords:
In theory, this sounds democratic but in practice is a mistake. We would be exchanging the election of Peers who have reached eminence in their profession, for Peers who could not get elected to the Commons. It would guarantee a constitutional clash.
II. Party Funding
Politicians are already pretty alienated from the public. We should not make that worse by dipping our hands into their pockets, to fund our Party. It would be resented -
I spoke of a possible clash between the Lords and Commons if ill-
Devolution I saw as the first leap. Scottish demand for independence the second. That has not yet happened. But English frustration could yet cause a schism. There must be changes made here: the present situation cannot be sustained.
Now Scotland has its own Parliament, it cannot be right that Scottish MPs determine changes to the law in England that will not affect them or their constituents. This is not an anti-
Malcolm has suggested two answers to the West Lothian Question: an English Grand Committee whose decisions would be accepted and the need for an English majority -
Wherever we look, our world is being re-
The fear of global war has gone; today terror is globalising. The worst atrocity has been in New York, but Bali, Jerusalem, London, Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo -
Terrorism can cause mayhem -
Gandhi was far more successful at changing minds than Bin Laden ever will be.
We need to know -
The answers to these questions are not always palatable -
As for the Radicals case -
And this needs solid policy -
For nine years, Labour have been in Government with a huge majority, a benign economy, huge extra tax revenue -
This is a huge opportunity for us. If you sniff the political wind, you can smell the decay of the Government.
The first politician able to carry his or her voice above the clamour of slogans, and who can offer long-
Our role is -
To restore serious policy and scrap knee-
To consider long-
If we can lift our voice above the ruck, above the silly competing slogans, I believe there are millions prepared to listen.
Tomorrow’s world will be very different.
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. It is this world we Conservatives must prepare for.
And the time to do so -
Can we win?
In 1906, in power for 20 years and lost by 246 seats.
In 1945, in power for 14 years and lost by 190 seats.
In 1964/6, in power for 13 years and lost by 115 seats.
In 1997, in power for 18 years and lost by 171 seats.
By 2009, in power for 12 years -