Friday, 24 April 2015

Labour`s foreign policy

One thing very noticeable about the current election campaign is the lack of prominence given to foreign policy, and the reason for this has to be the fact that the policies of the three main parties are so disappointingly similar. There are differences over Europe, admittedly, but these are mostly related to economics and immigration.
At the start of the century, Labour proudly advocated an ethical foreign policy, but a few interventions by Blair soon put a stop to that, and since then, with the exception of Miliband's prevention of the bombing of Syria, Tory/coalition/Labour policies have largely coincided. Should we Labour voters be happy about this situation?
Miliband has declared himself rock solid in favour of maintaining the Trident nuclear option, just like Cameron, but vague statements about deterrents have proved insufficient in answering questions about scenarios where nuclear weapons could be the effective solution, or how the need for American approval can possibly increase British prestige. Then there are the issues of whether the hundred billion or so could be more wisely spent, and whether skills necessary to build nuclear submarines are transferable. I rather like the idea of British state owned cruise ships regularly docking in the popular Mediterranean ports!
In the Middle East, preventing bombing in Syria should have marked the beginning of a foreign policy which aimed for long lasting peace in the area, but with no objections forthcoming, tacit approval has been given, instead, to more intervention, this time by the Saudis in the Yemen.When defence Secretary, Hammond, promised the UK's support for the bombing by the Saudis and the many other Gulf dictatorships, "in every way" it can, shouldn't Labour at least have protested, warned about the need for caution, or made some symbolic gesture? When the Yemen's Houthi fighters have the apparent but modest backing of Iran, questions have to be asked about the point of the recent, much lauded nuclear deal with Iran if we actively encourage Saudi Iranian conflict. No answers emanate from Labour, however.
Have Labour politicians voiced disapproval over the hundreds of American drones dropped on the Yemen because of Al Quida's presence there, even though it is well documented what happens to terrorist support in the event of external attack? Whilst the US and her allies support the Sunni powers in the Yemen against Shia Iran, the opposite occurs in Iraq, with backing for Shia fighters against the Sunni Isis group. Shouldn't Labour be advocating a UN peace initiative, a conference, or something?
Lack of support for Tsipras' s Greece, albeit not unexpected in view of opinions about austerity, are nevertheless, disappointing, too. Does every mainstream politician in Europe lack the bottle to disagree, even mildly, with Merkel? Two minor opposition parties in Germany have voiced support for the Greeks' claim for reparations owed from World War Two, but from Labour the silence is deafening. Surely the payment of Germany reparations offer a sensible and fair method for the Greeks to start balancing their books? On a similar subject, a Labour pledge to return the Parthenon marbles to their rightful owners would not only show them to be on the side of justice, it would prove a much needed boost to the Greek economy.
So much is being ignored , so much is not being said, one can only wonder if a Labour government's foreign policy would be noticeably different in any way at all!

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