1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech made at the Coningsby Club Dinner, held on Thursday 6th July 2006.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
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.
Many people turn away from politics.
All this is depressing -
It is once again, an exciting time to be a Conservative. We have a new generation of leaders, the best Parliamentary intake for decades and, 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.
After 18 years in Government people were -
Nine years on, Labour has run out of the Conservative economy:
Herein lies our chance.
After nine years of a huge majority, a benign economy and massive extra spending of taxpayers money -
Generally, I think not. And where it has improved -
This is a monumental failure of domestic policy.
And remember "we will be whiter than white". Since then the Labour Party have degraded the conduct of Government and the political system to such a low that when bad practice is uncovered, it barely causes a ripple. We may have had our problems with individuals, but never with the institution of Government.
Whereas Labour's problems are with the institution of Government:
1. they have undermined and politicised the civil service;
2. they are being investigated to see how they have awarded Peerages;
3. and they offer a diet of half truths and untruths to promote their policy.
Labour have brought into Government all the black arts of smear and abuse, the 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 PM 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 -
I suspect the public are out of sympathy with party political dog-
And, the dilemmas before us -
If we are to differentiate our approach from Labour -
I. Election to the Lords:
In theory, this sounds democratic but in practice is a mistake. Think about it: 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 Lords and Commons if ill-
Now Scotland has its own Parliament, Scottish MPs cannot be permitted to herald in changes to the law in England that will not effect them or their constituents.
The first politician able to carry his or her voice above the clamour of slogans, and who can offer long-
Wherever we look, our world is being re-
Terrorism can cause mayhem -
The threat that must be beaten back is the attempt to radicalise Islam; to set Muslim against non-
Terrorism and democracy are polar opposites. They cannot co-
We need to work with other nations to deny terrorists safe havens, cut off their financing, and stem the flow of recruits.
We must stop the free movement of terrorists; attack money laundering; reduce their supply of weapons; agree extradition; and penalise States that fund terror.
As we do so we must recognise creating martyrs is bad policy. Abu Ghraib is a gift for radicals. Guantanamo Bay is a policy error.
We need to know -
The answers to these questions are not always palatable -
As for the Radicals case -
Terrorism is not going to go away and, although it is tempting to ignore it -
Wherever we look, change is accelerating. On our doorstep, Europe is in the midst of change. The European Union has a larger economy than the US -
The rise of Asia emphasises this danger. No-
Now, once again, the growth of China holds centre stage. China is an ancient nation. She was making silk and pottery before the Egyptians built the Pyramids, and before ancient Britons built Stonehenge. Now she is re-
It is a remarkable sight: a once closed Communist economy, marching out into the Free Market.
Today, around the world, change is accelerating.
In the late 18th Century, Prime Minister William Pitt realised he had not heard from our Ambassador in Washington for a long time. He picked up his pen and wrote to the Foreign Secretary: "If we have not heard from our Ambassador in another year ..... we should send a note." Today, the leisurely world of William Pitt is long gone. We have a global economy. The political map is fluid.
The speed of medical advance is bewildering. 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.
Science and technology is accelerating change which already takes place at break-
The past hints at the scale of change we may see in the future.
At the beginning of the 20th century, no-
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 Austro-
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, lost by 246 seats.
In 1945, in power for 14 years, lost by 190 seats.
In 1964/6, in power for 13 years, lost by 115 seats.
In 1997, in power for 18 years, lost by 171 seats.
By 2009, in power for 12 years -