Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 11:58 UK

Brown reveals global moral vision

Gordon Brown at the General Assembly
The prime minister urged nations and religions to act together to solve problems

Gordon Brown has been setting out his vision for a global society governed by a shared "moral sense".

The prime minister was addressing the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.

It is 20 years since Margaret Thatcher gave her "Sermon on the Mound" at the Assembly, arguing a theological basis for her free market thinking.

Mr Brown, whose father was a Kirk minister, said he shared the church's "enduring vision of the good society".

The prime minister said he had never forgotten the lessons he learned in the Kirkcaldy parish manse where he grew up.

We are not moral strangers but there is a shared moral sense common to us all
Gordon Brown
Prime Minister

He added: "He also brought us up to believe that the size of your wealth mattered less than the strength of your character; that a life of joy and fulfilment could be lived in the service of others."

He told the General Assembly there was a "a consistent ethical core" in all the world's great religions, from which billions of people derived inspiration, "showing that we are not moral strangers but there is a shared moral sense common to us all".

Mr Brown argued that the joining together of the information revolution and the human urge to co-operate for justice made it possible for the first time in history for the dream of a truly global society to be realised.

He called for people everywhere to discover their shared values, communicate with each other and join together with people in other countries in a "single moral universe to bring about change".

'Mighty stream'

"This is the irrepressible revolution of our time - a billion voices for change. And I'd like to think that acting together we can become the generation to address climate change," he said.

"Acting together, the first generation in the history of mankind to abolish illiteracy and give every child the right to education; acting together, the first generation to eradicate tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, malaria, on the way to eradicating HIV/Aids.

"And to honour the dream of the scriptures: that justice will roll like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Mrs Thatcher won few converts in Scotland when, at a time when industry was being hard hit, she quoted St Paul saying: "If a man will not work he shall not eat."

When she had finished, the then moderator presented her with Kirk reports on housing and poverty, interpreted by many as a polite rebuke.

Mr Brown's spokesman said that nothing should be read into the fact that the prime minister's speech came 20 years after Lady Thatcher's famous address.

The General Assembly runs until 21 May.

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