The Eton College Political Society welcomed Sir John Major to speak in the Jafar Hall.
Sir John’s initial address touched upon the foundational elements of his political career: his childhood, his education, and key interactions which have since shaped his personal philosophy. He described his youth in Brixton where he lived in a two room apartment and ‘the money never seemed to last to the end of the week’. He left school at 16 and travelled to Nigeria, where he witnessed the Biafran War and held a position as a director of a bank. ‘Not a classical education’, he recalled, ‘but a useful one’. Sir John then described his interactions with Helmut Kohl, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela among others, all great leaders of nations. ‘To lead is to serve’, he said, and ‘we have a need for good leadership in politics’.
Sir John described the world as one ‘in transition’, ‘drifting to an unknown destination’. We need ‘grown up politics’ in the form of decisive action by the people and the government, whether through participation in the democratic process or the willingness to collaborate with other governments to achieve a global wellbeing.
The subsequent Q & A session proved to be extremely engaging for all boys and staff in attendance; Sir John spoke to a number of current political topics. Sir John also addressed Black Wednesday, when a collapse in the pound sterling forced Britain to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and his thoughts during the recovery process.
Sir John’s informative and insightful talk on the importance of an engaged political mind-set struck a chord with many Etonians on the night, and we thank him for taking the time to inspire a new cohort of political students and thinkers.
Vernon Li (DWG) Nathan Swidler (NCWS) Photos: Jasper Sodha