Posts from the ‘Speeches’ Category
“David Yelland, Tom Watson, Jo Brand, Vince Cable and I” sounds like the start of a story from an after dinner gig – but they are the esteemed company that I now keep by delivering this lecture, the fifth Leveson Lecture. They have all shrewdly and brilliantly shed light on press reform, and they did it very much in the thoughtful and open-minded spirit of Sir Brian Leveson’s report.
I am very conscious that they are hard acts to follow.
And as I was working on this talk a few days ago, worried whether I should have accepted your invitation to deliver this lecture, I was distracted by another event that was taking place.
No I wasn’t tracking Priti Patel’s plane back from Africa along with thousands of other people. I was watching the Prime Minister and others pay homage at a party to celebrate Paul Dacre’s 25 years at the Daily Mail. I tried to find the words that evening to express my disgust – I could not, so I will simply quote my colleague, Andrew, Lord Cooper:
“The Prime Minister attending the *celebration* of the repulsive Paul Dacre’s 25 years as editor of the disgusting Daily Mail is another depressing sign of the sickness at the heart of UK politics & the Tory Party weakly traipsing towards the edge of a cliff”
Now Either Andrew is very right and brave or that is a spoof twitter account that I have just quoted from.
But their evening was about the past. And tonight is about the future.
I’m really pleased you are all here, I’m really relieved that I am here, in the right
place, giving the right lecture to the right audience.
Because, believe it or not, tonight we have another Hinton Lecture happening right
now a few miles from here. So I had real concerns about whether I was going to be
at the right one.
The Royal Society of Engineering tonight are hosting their flagship annual Hinton
lecture in memory of one Sir Christopher Hinton – I understand there is no
relationship between the two.
They have the former CEO of EDF Energy talking about his life and career.
But tonight ladies and gentlemen you have me – so those of you who are at the
wrong lecture – please do stay.
David Cameron, Ed Miliband, the last Archbishop of Canterbury and I sounds like
the start of a very inappropriate joke – but they are in fact the diverse and
esteemed company I now keep by delivering this lecture, the 20th Hinton Lecture
in memory of Nicholas Hinton – a man whom sadly I only knew in name.
I was a newly qualified solicitor in my twenties when Nicholas died. I was idealistic
and passionate about change and believed I could make the world a better place.
Idealism and passion I’m told by those who knew Nick were very much a part of
But we have a few more things in common.
Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a true honour to be here. I have had the privilege of speaking from the pulpits of Britain’s oldest cathedrals and from the lecterns of the world’s greatest universities…
But there is nothing quite like standing here at Muscat’s spectacular Grand Mosque, a place of deep spirituality and immense beauty.
For me, this is something of a home from home – not only because it is a symbol of the faith I hold so dearly, Islam, but because its construction was partly down to a British company!
And it is therefore the perfect backdrop for me to talk about religious tolerance. For Oman under His Majesty’s wise leadership is a symbol of that very co-existence we are all striving for. Proof that sectarianism is not inevitable – even when a religion is blighted by splits in a region that is constantly the focus of such tensions. Now I look forward to saying more about the lessons I think we can learn from your example later on in this speech. Read more
I am delighted to be here to celebrate interfaith week and I am very grateful to Bishop Tony for inviting me.
For many decades I have called not just for interfaith dialogue but for interfaith action.
It’s no good the local vicar and local imam just sharing a cuppa and a samosa.
Different faiths need to come together, work together and together make a difference to their communities.
I believe that over the last few years we have seen a shift from interfaith dialogue to interfaith action.
To encourage that, we have ensured our faith-based programmes in government are interfaith programmes.
And they don’t just bring communities together for the sake of bringing them together; they bring them together to make a difference.
Programmes like the Big Iftar…
…which encourages mosques and community centres to open their doors and break their fast with different communities during Ramadan.
Like Near Neighbours…
…which gives grants to grassroots projects of many different faiths in the areas which need it most.
And like the First World War Commonwealth Contribution programme
…which shines a spotlight on those Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others who fought and fell, side by side, a hundred years ago.
I have often argued that the presence of another faith is not a threat to your own identity.
It shows that you are unshakeable in your identity.
Working alongside someone of a different faith doesn’t make you less of a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew.
It actually makes you more of one.
It’s something I believe we do very well in this country. And I think we can do it even better.
Our world has, at various points, been divided into empires, carved into countries, and separated by ethnicities.
Conflict has taken many forms.
Today I want to focus on a dangerous and rising phenomenon.
One where we see religion turning on religion, sect upon sect.
In other words, where faith is forming the fault lines.
According to this worldview – and it’s the view of many…
…my ally and my enemy are determined not by geography or politics or colour, but more and more so by religion.
The fundamental tenets of the major faiths don’t lend themselves to this.
They are not intrinsically on some collision course.
However, religion is being used by some as a means of division, segregation, discrimination and persecution.
And that persecution, I believe, is the biggest challenge we face in this young century.
It has become a global crisis.
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It’s great to be here today.
I have a personal link with this event.
I hail from Dewsbury – a Victorian textile town…
Leeds University – to whom you are closely linked – is my former uni…
The family business that I’m privileged to be a part of is a furniture manufacturer …
And, above all, I am a great believer in innovation in industry.
And that’s exactly what I want to talk about today.
As the fastest growing sector of the textile industry, you demonstrate the power of innovation and reinvention.
You show that an industry of the past can have a strong, dynamic future…
…that tradition is not incompatible with innovation.
Today there are many other industries that could take heed from your example.
I have to say, at the weekly diary meetings in my office this opportunity to give a speech to the Nonwovens Network raised a few eyebrows.
A lot of questions were asked about what you do. I was even told it was probably going to be a boring conference.
What people don’t realise is that nonwovens are woven through our lives.
They’re part and parcel of the modern world.
Under the carpet we walk on, on the chairs we sit on, in the face wipes we use, the dusters we clean with.
Indeed, the fabric of society!
Personally I am more familiar with the woven side of the textile industry.
Whether it be the spinning and weaving mills my father came to work in during the 1960s…
…or the materials used in our bed manufacturing business many years later.
But here’s why I believe your industry is such a crucial one.
It shows the importance of tradition and modernisation in manufacturing.
But let’s look for a moment at the story of which you are a part.
As Tory Chairman I spend a lot of my time taking on unions – namely the ones that fund Labour’s campaigns.
But today I want to come out and defend a Union.
One which has benefitted us all for centuries.
One which is key to our success as a nation.
And one which we must work flat-out to keep intact:
The Union between Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
That is why I wholeheartedly support the launch of the Conservative Friends of the Union group.
Which couldn’t have a better champion than the dynamic, enthusiastic, vibrant and hugely patriotic Ruth Davidson.
Now we’ve all heard – and will continue to hear – the reasons why we should preserve our Union.
Thank you very much for inviting me.
Giving the Ebor Lecture is very significant for me.
Not only because I’m Yorkshire born and bred.
But because I have spent my governmental career arguing on your very theme:
The growing need for faith to interact with public issues in today’s society.
It started with a speech in 2010 when I declared that our government would make a clean break with the past administration and would ‘do God’.
Since then many have pointed out that, as a Cabinet Minister without Portfolio, I have assigned myself the portfolio of faith…
Even His Holiness Pope Benedict referred to me during his 2010 UK visit as the Minister for God!
Exactly one month ago today I led our country’s reciprocal visit to the Vatican.
It was our largest ever ministerial delegation to the Holy See.
As I walked through a sun-drenched St Peter’s Square with the Archbishop of Westminster it was a very special moment.
Knowing that he a Catholic, me a Muslim, and many of my colleagues were united in a common aim:
To demonstrate the importance of faith and the important links between our respective beliefs.
When I then spoke at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy there I wanted to make one simple point:
That Europe needs to feel stronger and more confident in its Christianity.
That you simply cannot erase Christianity from our heritage any more than you can erase the spires from our landscapes.
And that this firm basis creates a space for people of minority faiths.
I wanted that point to ring out beyond the Vatican walls.
To be heard far away where states were repressing religion.
To be heard closer to home where secularism was squeezing out faith…
…perpetuated both by the well-intentioned who want to create a level playing field for all beliefs by diminishing faith…
…and by those ideologically opposed to faith altogether.
In the month since I made that argument, it has started quite an interesting debate.
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It’s great to see you all here again this year.
I want to start by saying an enormous thank you to Niki Molnar, who is standing down after an excellent year as your Chairman.
Niki, it’s been a great pleasure working with you and we are so grateful for all the work you’ve done.
Thanks to Pauline Lucas, President and ex-Chairman, for her continuing work with the CWO, helping to find women to stand for public life at all levels.
Also thanks to deputy Chairman Thalia Openshaw, who is also stepping down after three years.
And a huge congratulations to Katy Bourne who is stepping up to the role of Chairman.
Four inspirational women. And a fitting way to begin, since our theme today is ‘inspiring women’.