Former prime minister John Major to deliver 2018 South Shields Lecture

Former prime minister Sir John Major. Pic by PA.
Former prime minister Sir John Major. Pic by PA.

Former South Shields MP David Miliband has announced that ex-prime minister Sir John Major will deliver this year's South Shields Lecture.

Sir John Major served as Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997 and will be speaking at Harton Academy this September.

David Miliband.

David Miliband.

Uniquely, this year, the South Shields Lecture will have two former Foreign Secretaries on the stage at the same time.

The lecture will take the form of a conversation between Mr Miliband and Sir John, followed by questions from the audience.

The title of the event is: “Britain, Europe and the Future of Politics”.

Mr Miliband said: "I am honoured that Sir John has agreed to come to South Shields in September.

"We are living through momentous national decisions, notably in respect of our relations with the rest of Europe, and so respectful, informed discussion has never been more important.

"The South Shields Lecture was established to bring national and international perspectives to South Shields, and Sir John’s voice is one that needs to be heard.

“I also believe that the gravity of the situation facing the country demands that politicians and the public speak to each other across partisan divides.

"Sir John’s contribution in government to the peace process in Northern Ireland, as well as Britain’s relations with Europe, mean that he is someone who we should listen to.

"He has an extraordinary story to tell, from Brixton to Downing Street, and his wealth of experience makes him an informed and passionate observer of the political scene. We will have a great evening on September 28.”

Sir John said: “I was delighted to accept David Miliband’s invitation to deliver the South Shields Lecture, and did so without hesitation.

"Politics does not always have to be a battleground, and I believe that the more electors see politicians engaging and debating with each other without rancour – across the political divide – the better it will be for public life.

"I very much look forward to my discussion with David Miliband in September.”

The three most recent speakers at the South Shields Lecture have been film directors Danny Boyle and Sam Mendes as well as North East-born musician Sting.

The lecture was established in 2001, when former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock was speaker.

Other lecturers include actor Patrick Stewart, comedian Jo Brand, and film producer David Puttnam.

Sir Ken Gibson, Executive Headteacher at HartonAcademy, said: “We are extremely proud to have hosted the South Shields Annual Lecture at HartonAcademy for the past nine years and we are honoured at the prospect of meeting Sir John and hearing his views on political events during his time as Prime Minister and now as Brexit is debated in Parliament.

"As a school we strive for excellence and aspiration for all students, and Sir John’s experiences will reinforce to our young people that with dedication and hard work anything is possible."

The lecture will be hosted at Harton Academy on Friday, September 28, starting at 6.30pm.

Tickets are free, but demand will be high so early application is therefore advisable.

Tickets are limited to two per household, and priority will be given to those who reside in the NE33, NE34 and SR6 postcodes (South Shields constituency).

Requests for tickets should be made by email to: events@harton-tc.co.uk