For this year’s annual Business Lunch, Moreton Hall and Investec were delighted to welcome over 600 guests. The Keynote speaker was William Hague, or to give him his full title: The Right Honourable, The Lord Hague of Richmond, a true political giant. His topic: ‘The post-Brexit world’.
With the guests busy networking over pre-lunch drinks, the Moreton Enterprises team had a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from business leaders from Shropshire and beyond. Indeed, so interesting were these conversations that it took a concerted effort by Mr Lang to encourage people to take their seats for lunch.
Before lunch commenced, an introduction to Moreton Enterprises was provided by the Lower Sixth directors, Martha and Lily. Martha took this opportunity to introduce the assembled guests to the school’s newest venture: our community theatre - “A theatre for all”, whilst Lily provided an overview of Moreton Enterprises. Our Head Girl, Tara, wrapped things up for the girls by providing the audience with more details of the community theatre.
Following a delicious lunch and much lively conversation, Lord Hague took to the stage and in a speech punctuated with anecdotes and humorous one-liners, spoke of his concerns for the future, concerns that extended well beyond the outcome of any Brexit negotiations. Namely: the resurgence of the far-right, particularly if more centralist parties didn’t tap into the mood of populist nationalism and address the concerns which are causing people to seek far-right solutions to their problems. Lord Hague said that, whilst it was unlikely that Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, would win next month’s Presidential elections in France, it was inevitable that she would become President one day if more centralist parties couldn’t connect with the electorate’s concerns. Migration was another factor that he thought would shape the years to come: with increasing numbers of people on the move, governments the world over will need to think carefully about this issue. Lord Hague suggested that concerns about migration were placing the EU on a path towards “slow disintegration”. He also spoke of his worry that the growing use of social media was contributing to the growth of an ever more polarised society, as people were repeatedly fed on a diet of information which agreed with their own views rather than contrasting views, which would help them form a more balanced idea of the world. As he pointed out, this might work with Netflix, where if you like one film or genre you will get 10 more recommendations of a similar nature, but it was concerning in terms of politics and current affairs.
When reflecting on his life in politics, Lord Hague spoke of the highs and lows of public office: his pride at framing the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995 which transformed the lives of many people with disabilities and his deep regret that the government failed to secure a lasting peace deal in Syria in 2012, that would have prevented so much suffering and loss of life.
When the Q&A session drew to a reluctant close, I was left with a sense that the Brexit negotiations were in some way the least of our problems! Lord Hague presented a view of politics that was far-reaching, compassionate and thought provoking, proving him to be one of the greatest public orators of modern times.
By Martha (L6)