'Back to basics is about values, not about moral judgements': Extracts from the interview John Major gave to BBC Radio 4's 'The World This Weekend', in which he set out his thoughts in conversation with James Naughtie

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The Independent Online
MAJOR ON BACK TO BASICS: 'We are talking about values and I mean values across the whole range of human activity. There are certain lasting values that are instinctive to the British. Everyone knows what they are: respect, courtesy, obedience to the law, self-discipline, no-nonsense decisions between right and wrong. There is nothing particularly fresh or novel about those; they are known to everyone in the country and understood by them but over much of the last 20 or 30 years it seems to me that they have almost been pushed aside, they have been taken for granted, neglected.

'I don't want to overcomplicate what is simple. I think we need to place those instinctive values, which the British have long cared for and accepted, smack in the middle of our public life again - and by our public life I don't just mean people in public life, I mean life in the United Kingdom and that is what we are proposing.'

MAJOR ON CLASS: ''When I talk about a classless society I am talking about a society in which everybody, wherever they may come from, whatever they may start with, will have the same opportunities to progress as other people who perhaps start from quite different circumstances. That is exactly what we are seeking to do with the education reforms.'

MAJOR ON MINISTERS' EXTRA-MARITAL BABIES: 'Back to basics, as I set out a moment ago, is about lasting community values, it is not about moral judgements made by one person against another person or another group.'

MAJOR ON SCHOOLS: 'What I am concerned about is reinforcing the authority of teachers, and headteachers in particular, in schools. I do think they need the authority to deal with bad behaviour. Many headteachers would argue these days that they have less authority than they themselves would wish so I believe we do need to establish an orderly atmosphere in schools. I personally think it is attractive to have school uniforms for a range of reasons and I hope increasingly schools will move towards them.'

MAJOR ON THE ESTABLISHMENT: 'Over the past couple of years or so it seems almost to be a continuing state of life that the Monarchy, the Church, the Government are under continuing attack. I make no complaint about the Government; we are a natural focus of attack, that is part of our democratic system but I think from the point of view of people sitting in the country in their own homes, not perhaps particularly political people, not particularly assertive people, what they actually see is the fundamentals of their society under continuing attack in a world that is changing more swiftly and more speedily than they feel comfortable with and I think that is unsettling.'

MAJOR ON THE ECONOMY: 'I think it is now undoubted that we have moved out of the recession and we are moving into a period of growth, not unsustainable boom. I don't want unsustainable boom, I don't think that would be a good thing. That was partly what led us into difficulties in the Eighties.'

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