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Lord Howell: "The UK is beginning to look like a failed nation"

Picture 5 The Shadow Deputy Leader of the Lords, Lord Howell of Guildford, gave a pretty robust yet dispiriting assessment of the state of the UK as the Upper House debated the Queen's Speech yesterday:

A robust foreign policy should both define and unite us, yet, instead, with the most optimistic view, one is left with a dispiriting picture. At a time when we should be forging new alliances with new sources of power and influence that will affect our destiny intimately; at a time when we should be vigorously promoting new and more flexible structures regionally for the EU, instead of talking of more centralisation; at a time when we should be building up the Commonwealth as the ideal soft power network of the future; at a time when we should be massively strengthening and modernising our security forces to meet asymmetric threats; at a time when we should be redirecting our development and aid policies, and thinking clearly about whether aid really leads to development in all cases-which it does not; at a time when we should be reconstructing our overseas ministries to get a better resource balance and upgrading our whole diplomatic resources-at this time, we are doing none of those things.

Above all, these ambiguities in our world stance divide and confuse us here at home, as both the Afghan and, I am afraid, the Iraqi involvement have divided us, adding to the multicultural mayhem and planting of deep doubt within our society. With our staggering public debt and enormous budget deficit, with the prospect of head-on collision with international bond markets looming and with our lost purpose, we are beginning to look like-and outside commentators are beginning to describe us as-a failed nation.

The global context has changed. Within it we need a new foreign policy direction based on a deep and intelligent analysis of the world conditions. We need new government machinery and a new Government to operate it successfully and with confidence and vigour. Our amazing country, built on its amazing and dazzling past, and still full of talent and vitality, deserves nothing less.

Read his full speech here.

Jonathan Isaby


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