1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech at the Dinner for the Guild of International Bankers, held at Vintners Hall in London on Wednesday 20th September 2006.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
Master, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.
When I was asked to join you this evening it was an easy invitation to accept. This
is partly because I began my career with one international bank and -
I learned a lot from Peter -
In his early days at the Treasury, Peter ran the Press Office. This was a long time ago: during that dear dead age in which the term “spin” applied only to cricket. I don't much like spin. In 40 years of politics I only ever heard one worthwhile example of it.
[Indistinct, but anecdote about when Boris Yeltsin was asked about the state of Russia in one word, and he said “Good”, and when asked to describe the state of Russia in two words, he said “Not good”.]
During all the time I worked with him, Peter was a source of wise counsel and -
I greatly admired this gift for consensus-
The spread of global commerce and trade has given us common systems of banking and
business in every great city of the world. But, as international bankers, your interests
encompass a world divided on subtler -
Culture, religion and ideology are today's battle-
None of them, in my judgement, can be solved solely by military means.
Modern life offers us a curious dilemma. Nothing can hold back the revolution in
Kipling once wrote:
"East is East and West is West
And never the twain shall meet."
The great poet did not foresee the global market, but culturally Kipling is still more right than wrong.
In a world changing too rapidly for comfort, people cling to their familiar cultures.
We British should understand that. For over 30 years, we have done so ourselves in
our attitudes to Europe. Time and again, there has been a fierce response to modest
changes because of fears -
Such fears can be far worse if whole nations, or religions, fear -
I admire pragmatism because it can often achieve results, where the rigidity of ideology
achieves only stand-
My concern with ideology is that it often goes beyond conviction. As I look at the
world today, it seems to me that, too often, ideology erects barriers instead of
removing them. It highlights differences and achieves popular support by condemnation
of them. It thrives on conflict. Ideology is too high on passion and certainty and
too low on moderation and understanding. I believe we need to change the balance
Ideologues, of course, will hate what I have just said -
As for myself, I am no longer in public life and have no plans to return to it. In
many ways, I am glad that I have left for I am, perhaps, a little too old-
So, as you can see, I am unreconstructed. So out of date am I, that I even believe the media should report the news and not embellish it. There is therefore, no hope for me.
But there is for international banking which will grow and grow and I wish this Guild and its incoming Master every success in the years ahead.