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How blue is the Coalition? Part Four: Foreign Affairs

By Paul Goodman

This is the fourth post in a five-part series looking the Government's record and prospects.  In doing so, I'll examine its work under the same headings that Conservative backbench committees follow.  It goes almost without saying that my view on what a Tory view or policy is won't be everyone's.

Screen shot 2010-08-31 at 22.19.59 Foreign Affairs

This is a difficult category to mark- though clearly disappointing in one respect.  There's a Conservative consensus on, say, deficit reduction or criminal justice.  I'm not sure that there is one on foreign affairs: my sense is that there's a growing isolationist streak in the Party, at odds with its traditional commitment to the American alliance.  My own stance is markedly Euro-sceptic - based on the repatriation of powers - mildly U.S-sceptic.

That's probably Cameron's, too.  He wants to break with the Blair neocon legacy, pare down our presence in Afghanistan, and build new relations with emerging powers.  Yoking Home and Foreign Policy in a National Security Council's sensible.  All this deserves reasonable marks, and the Government seems to have the right aim in Afghanistan.  However, attacking Israel in Turkey was a mistake, and doing the same to Pakistan in India a bigger one.  The feint at pursuing a strong Euro-sceptic policy by seeking to repatriate powers has been dropped.  The Sovereignty Bill's been kicked into the long grass.  Euro membership remains open in principle.

Conservative Credentials: Again, can't go higher than 5/10.

Thatcher won the Falklands War and helped win the Cold War, too.  Major held his nerve during the first Iraq war, but inherited a Europe policy fissure on a historical par with the Corn Laws and Free Trade/Protection ruptures.  Thatcher was a great foreign affairs leader, who tried to align her Party's Europe policy with the nation's instincts.  Any successor, Cameron included, is unlikely to measure up to her achievements.


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